Sharing Stories Through Songs

June 12, 2018

When audiences come to see Pigeon Creek shows, there are a number of things they can
expect to see.

 

 


1.) Really awesome Shakespeare performances
2.) All of the other audience member (we perform with universal lighting)
3.) Minimal sets, usually just a bench or some blocks. Occasionally a balcony.
4.–99.) Lots of other awesome things that I won’t name, but you all know. Plus, I’ve got to
get to the point.
5.) Super fun, well performed, toe-tapping live music!
I bring this up because in our upcoming production of ”Henry VI” our live musical
performances will feature even a larger role in the production. For those of you who may not
know Shakespeare actually wrote THREE plays about the life of Henry VI. They are
conveniently titled: “Henry VI: Part I,” “Henry VI: Part II,” and “Henry VI: Part III.” Very
exciting.


There are many Shakespeare companies that perform each play in its entirety as part of what
is commonly known as The History Cycle. This is when a theater company will perform every
one of Shakespeare’s history plays in chronological order. Pigeon Creek is in the middle of this.
We’ve already performed “Richard II,” a conflation of the two parts of “Henry IV,” and
adaptation of “Henry V,” are about to take on “Henry VI”, and have “Richard III” on the
schedule in the future. All together it’s an eight play run. But because of conflations, Pigeon
Creek will end up performing five productions. In order to do that we are combining the three
parts of Henry Six into one play.


To achieve this, it’s necessary to cut quite a bit of the text and decide which parts of the story
one wants to tell. For this production, we are focusing mainly on the major plot of the battle over
the crown between Henry the Sixth and Richard the Duke of York. But, one of the things that
happens when you cut that much, is that you risk losing some vital information that the audience
needs to follow the story.


This is where music comes in. The director for the show, David Little, has done a lot of work
with musical theater in his career. When he and Executive Director Katherine Mayberry started
discussing this project he had an idea to use music to tie all the parts of the story together. So he
has created a “Balladeer” character to help with this. The Balladeer will introduce the story,
announce characters, describe action that might be missing to fill in gaps, and generally kind of
narrate for the audience to help tell the story of the play. All of this will be done musically.
However, it has to be said that we are not creating “Henry Six: The Musical,” but rather
using music as a device to help tell the story. So don’t expect long numbers, or specific musical
theater tropes. Instead, the music may underscore a lot of the scenes, and have just a few verses
of song here or there to connect the action, and be a continuous thread throughout the show.


I will be playing the Balladeer for this production, and will also be helping to arrange much
of the music for the show. David has set the “period” of the play around the late 1800s and early

1900s. So much of the music will be Americana folk inspired. We are still very early in the
production. I’ve set down some general song structures and simple chord progressions, but I’ll be
depending on the rest of the cast to help fill in the sound. And very soon we will start putting all
the music into the show. We have a very musical cast. Every single actor sings or plays a musical
instrument or two. So I’m very excited to get working on this project. I hope you’ll come see the
show and find out what we’ve come up with.

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