Writers Retreat: Polly Peel
Hi all! It’s your Associate Artistic Director Kevin here, but wearing my writer hat instead! Joining me for this blog post is the mahhhvelous Julie Tepperman, book writer for our upcoming show, The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel, which recently won the Paul O’Sullivan Prize for Musical Theatre and will be at the Toronto Fringe this July! (Ahhhhhhh!!!!!) We just got back from a wonderful week-long retreat where we worked exclusively on act one of Polly Peel at Thousand Islands Playhouse, thanks to the incredible support of The Musical Stage Company and the Playhouse.What is a retreat, you ask? A retreat is where a writer or writing team goes somewhere and is given some combination of accommodation, space, and/or other support in order to fully commit themselves the piece/project at hand, free of distraction.
We showed up with a lot of work to do. Polly Peel began as a 20-minute musical idea that was commissioned by The Musical Stage Co. for the Reframed triptych, presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario under the direction and guidance of Robert McQueen. We had always intended for the 20 minute musical to be expanded into a full length book musical, and subsequent to the initial AGO presentation, developed another 20 minutes of it at the InTune Festival in Vancouver (run by the fabulous Touchstone Theatre!). So with 30-40 minutes of existing material, much to create, and much to revise, we got to work!
We worked for 6 days in a row, roughly 12 hours a day (with lots of breaks, sing-a-longs to old musicals we grew up with[i], and a box full of snacks…like, a lot of snacks!) and walked away with a solid and detailed outline for act one, several new songs and scenes, and a huge hit list of stuff yet to write, all colour-coded to indicate various stages of progress.
Thank you so so much to The Musical Stage Co. for organizing this and to the incredible staff at Thousand Islands Playhouse who welcomed us warmly into their space and hosted us so generously.
Writing a new musical is beyond daunting! Though there’s a very tall mountain still to climb, we’ve left feeling a lot more secure in our footing, having scaled a bit more of it together.
Next up, we’re about to dive into auditions for our developmental Fringe production, and we’re super excited/scared! We’re sorry/grateful! We’re defying gravity! We’re soaring, tumbling, freewheeling! We’re waving through a window! We’re a salad splashing its dressing! We’re—[WORD LIMIT REACHED]
[i] Julie – I Dreamed a Dream
Aaron – Luck Be A Lady
Kevin – *Mouth too full of cookies to be sure*