Sara Colman – The Hand That Feeds – Why a Musical?
Why a Musical?
musical (noun): a stage, television or film production utilizing popular-style songs – dialogue optional – to tell a story
Blog Post By Sara Colman
I’ve had a secret love of musicals since I was a kid. Instead of doing my overdue homework, Fred and Ginger would fuel my procrastination by singing and dancing their way through my Sunday afternoons. My lovely Nan would have me play & sing Easter Parade every time I went to visit and generations of that side of the family have been major players in Amateur Dramatic Musical Societies across the Town Halls of Devon.
I’ve even been able to earn money and feed this secret passion with dozens of BV sessions for shows on liners like the Queen Mary II; medleys of musical history – a total joy! I’d even spent a couple of hours in the celebrated musical singalong bar Marie’s Crisis in Greenwich Village.
Ok, I did actually spent most of my Village time in the 55 Bar so jazz obviously wins!
But Musical Theatre is in my blood.
And yet I still wasn’t sure how we were ever going to turn such a scientific subject like Food Crime into an engaging musical piece!
The Hand That Feeds – A Musical about Food Crime – was crazy idea, born in the mind of my friend Kate Cooper, debated, discussed and laughed about over many meals and many months.
It was days and nights in Leamington Spa with my new BFF writer Mez Packer, reading the reports, the statistics, the human stories and the history of food and crime. We passed the clay back and forth, moulding the story and colouring it in with lyrics accompanied by copious amounts of tea and Mez’s excellent cooking!
According to John Kenrick at Musicals101.com there are rules to writing musicals, including Show, don’t tell ; Know the basics of good storytelling ; Never teach or preach; Open with a kick-ass song! We’re certainly doing that! Since humans have had the capacity to communicate we’ve been telling stories to entertain and educate.
Caitlin Nicoll illustrates this when she writes about storytelling through music.
Throughout history, people have used song to convey their messages. Troubadours would travel the countryside, telling their tales and singing their songs to kings and noblemen. These songs were silly, they were tragic, they were entertaining.
Slaves in the American South would create and sing songs while they toiled away in the hot fields. These songs would give them hope that they would one day rise above the oppression; they were a distraction from the horrors of their everyday lives.
During the Depression, folksingers used song to fight back against the government, to raise awareness, and again, to give hope. Woody Guthrie, perhaps one of the most prolific songwriters of our time, rambled and sang his way across the country. Like Orpheus before him, he battled discrimination with song. Armed with nothing more than his guitar, he stood up against a corrupt government, and gave a voice to the unheard.
Songs are a powerful way to get your message across. They are our fears, our desires, our hopes, our dreams, our losses, our celebrations, our sorrows, our joys, our memories, our experiences. They are, each and every one of them, a story.
Food Crime is a complex issue, a multi-faceted problem with many perspectives.
It’s a story with countless strands and a subject matter that effects all of us.
Perfect fodder for a musical.
Sara Colman – Narrativium Chemist – composer
“The Hand That Feeds – a musical about food crime” is being staged on the steps of St Martin’s in the Bullring, Birmingham city centre – Saturday 14th May at 12 noon and again at 2.30pm.
Those that register for #StopFoodCrime-fighter goodie bagscan collect them before and after the performances.