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CD Production History

 

Far from the Madding Crowd
NYC Reading - October 2014

The Awakening
Finalist in the Academy for New Musical Theatre's 
2008 Search for New Musicals


 

  • Showcased at Theatre Building Chicago in 2003.
  • Presented at the 2002 International Festival of Musical Theatre as part of the Global Search for New Musicals.
  • Presented at the 2005 International Festival of Musical Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 
  • Showcased at the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival in New York City.

 

Although The Awakening and Far from the Madding Crowd are set in different worlds and in different centuries, they have a lot in common. Both stories take place at times of social and political change, Far From the Madding Crowd at the brink of the Industrial Revolution in rural England and The Awakening at the brink of a new century in New Orleans. They feature strong women who both reflect and rebel against the attitudes of their society. Both are rich in local color and the traditions of the period, yet they feel real more than a century later because these characters face the same issues we do: the search for love; the conflicting demands of society and self; and the struggle to make the right choices about the direction of our lives.

The power of these women's journeys towards self-awareness and independence convinced composer Gary Schocker and I that these stories could make the transition from page to stage.

 

The Awakening

And always the sea - beckoning.
Always the sound - rumbling.
Lingering, lost in the roots of a tree.
Waiting for me, 
Waiting like me...

For years, Edna Pontellier has tried to be a good wife and a loving mother like the other Creole matrons, to still her restlessness and her yearning for something more. On Grand Isle, she takes the first tentative steps towards discovering herself - as a woman, as an artist, as a person. The Awakening follows Edna's journey - at once joyous and painful - and the difficult choices she must make in her struggle to live an authentic life.

Published in 1899, Kate Chopin's novella was denounced as shocking and immoral. Not only did Chopin create a woman who valued herself first as a person and second as a mother, but she dared to explore a woman's sexual nature with a candor that even writers of the naturalist school did not attempt. 

For The Awakening, we created a score that contrasts the dream-like quality of Edna's inner life with that of the conventional world around her. From the isolated splendor of Grand Isle to the glittering salons of New Orleans society, Edna pits herself against nature and society in her quest to find fulfillment.

 

Far from the Madding Crowd

After every smile is a time to weep.
What you plow and plant you are bound to reap
As the wheel of the year turns on...

Far from the Madding Crowd charts the tempestuous journey of Bathsheba Everdene as she attempts to find her place in a society that rigidly dictates women’s roles and behaviors. Although she is successful in managing the farm she inherits, she finds it more difficult to control the vagaries of her heart. A girlish prank sets in motion events that build inexorably to tragedy and to Bathsheba’s ultimate discovery of love.

In adapting Thomas Hardy's novel for the musical theatre, we sought to reinforce the novel's sense of timelessness by using traditional English folk songs in addition to our own material. The staging uses minimal props and set pieces, leaving the audience to imagine the farm and the landscape, and freeing them to concentrate on the interaction of the characters. 

The title is an ironic take on Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard with its idealized vision of simple, quietly noble country folk. Although we have taken some liberties with Hardy's plot, we believe the musical captures the drama - and occasional humor - that arises from the turbulent relationships of its characters.

 

Listen to some of the musical selections

 

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