Crafting Theatre, Part 4: First Draft
Writing the script for this new show took two days.
That doesn’t seem long to some people, I assume, who take weeks or months to pen a script. But remember, over the past two weeks, I had formed a pretty solid idea of what I wanted to do: I had thought out many of the scenes already, and the first draft was more about organizing facts and building a solid premise for the story.
There is a certain formula to a script for a musical ‘jukebox show’ that works well. It’s a versatile formula, and I’ve used it many times before. But since this was going to be a theatrical piece, it wasn’t just about using a proven formula. I needed characters, and to set it in a certain time, and even though the arc of the show could follow the formula, within the form, it was going to be a bit different.
First off, when to set it? And then, what to do about the fact that it was primarily Deanna Durbin’s story, but it was also going to be about Judy Garland… My training is in music, and personally, I don’t think anyone should do multiple characters on stage, unless they are do them incredibly well. So one character, Deanna. And where would Judy be? Well, she could be there but unseen, but that didn’t work with her as a person. And would they be children? Or change ages throughout the show?
Once I made those decisions, the script almost wrote itself. I finished it up, and then I put it down and went out for crepes. Took the rest of the day off, then immediately started on the second draft , which was far tighter and contained breaks for songs.
I didn’t pick the songs yet – although I had already decided on some of them – this was more about finding the right voice for the character – Deanna - while presenting interesting and compelling facts about both Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland. And there were a lot of facts. There were so many, in fact, that I had to be constantly careful that the script was presenting a story, not merely reciting facts. The second draft was about taking out lot of the facts, and to make it showing, not merely telling.
When the second draft was done, I read it through a few times, tightened it up some more, and then it was time to start thinking about music…