I’m not really one for exclamation marks, but I am so excited about this project.
AMBITION has long been one of my ambitions.
(To write an all singing, all dancing, all shiny as you like, musical.)
Hampshire Music Service commissioned me to write a musical. I’ve been working on the book – that’s what the script part is called – since early 2016. I then met with a composer who works for HMS, called David Cefai. When we started working together (the day of the leave the EU vote), David had tremendously long dreadlocks. Then one day he turned up with them all shorn off. That was quite surreal, luckily he didn’t lose his musical strength (that’s a reference to Samson there, in case you don’t get it!).
Working with a composer
David and I worked together, I gave him outline lyrics, he composed. Some of the songs I have an original idea sound files for – when I was writing the lyrics the tunes popped in my head (I’ll try to figure out how to upload those – they’re truly awful). David made sense of them, and created other tunes, and made a magical score. He tweaked the lyrics to fit the music and introduced me to concepts such as the middle eight. I’ve always been in awe of people who can hear a tune and then play it, and sing to it, and make it better. It’s an amazing skill, and David would switch between instruments as he worked. Sometimes we made a chorus and then he’d send me a sound file of the verse later, sometimes we edited lyrics to fit, sometimes we argued, mostly we laughed.
That’s been a strange journey as I’ve never written song lyrics before. I have written poetry though, and I could feel the similarities. I learnt from David that you need to focus strongly on the idea behind the song, which was very hard for me to do as I like to to tell stories in my poetry – as I did in my original lyrics. Lots of my lyrics got cut, and that’s fine. As you work on projects it’s really important to edit, and reshape and stand-back and work out what really works, and what is vanity.
I’ve run a couple of workshops with the book, and one with David for the music. I think that’s really important as a creator, to share your work, and listen to honest feedback. If it’s slow, or doesn’t make sense, or difficult in another way, sharing your work helps ease out those sticky moments. And you also learn what does work, where the laughs come, where the characters have emotional resonance, where your writing has hit the spot.
Ambition is about a boy band and its management. It’s a year in the life. I think it will resonate with audiences, we’re all well versed in this type of story about manufactured pop. But, Ambition is deeper than that – it asks what you’d give up for your ambition? This is an interesting topic especially in the new political environment in which we find ourselves.
Want to be involved?
There is just a whisker of time left for young performers to apply to audition (until Sunday 11th Dec). Search facebook for Musical Theatre Project: Hampshire Music Service, to find out the details. Or, put the dates in your diary to come and see it Spring 2017. 12 May, Berry Theatre, Hedge End. 13 May, New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth.
To get back to my website, click Zella’s ambition came true!