Saturday, March 20, 2010


I found a quote today (which I can't believe I haven't read up until this point) that made me remember why I'm doing this. From No Intermissions: the life of Agnes de Mille by Carol Easton:

According to Trude Rittman, rehearsal pianist on Brigadoon, “Aland and Fritz didn’t trust Agnes. They though, ‘She is so much involved in the balletic aspects, she doesn’t have the whole show in mind.’ On every show, it was always a struggle for her. Rarely did she get what she needed-not just for herself but fro costumes, for whatever she needed for her dance! We used to say that we had to be doubly as good as men in order to make it in the male-dominated theatrical world. It was marvelous that we had each other to exchange our private jokes and comments about all these men for whom we worked. We used to talk about how ridiculous Lerner and Loewe sometimes were with their women. Incredible! Fighting over girls, fighting over divorced women. Always a crisis. They loved each other, couldn’t work with anyone else, but then they hated each other. Agnes was very often much stronger than these two men together. She would fight for her rights, and the creative aspects of certain things. They always felt. ‘She’s going overboard and ruining our show! It’s not her show, it’s our show!’ Nobody won; they compromised.”

Can we take a moment to thank Trude for so beautifully put into one sentence the impetus behind why I'm doing this and why no one knows about her... "We used to say that we had to be doubly as good as men in order to make it in the male-dominated theatrical world." There it is right there. I couldn't have put it better myself. Here she is, being totally brilliant, literally picking up these strands of music and filling them out into the reason we love these shows, and she had to work twice as hard just to make that happen. Think what she would have been doing if women weren't always forced to prove themselves. In the words of Trude Rittmann and John Adams both, "Incredible!"


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

There's gotta be something better than this...

Woho! So I have got 3 chapters and 30 pages...if there was a good way of posting them I would but that's a lot of reading for anyway to do...
I'm writing out of frustration for a totally different reason now. My thesis proper is going very well. So far chapter one is a little rough (it is this vast overview that I feel needs to be trimmed). Chapter 2 is everything I know about her early life (her niece's email address bounced back so that's not a whole lot) and the ballet (which I could write a lot more about but honestly I'm not that knowledgeable in that area anyway). Chapter 3 could probably go on for days but I've ended it for now. It's an overview of musical theatre in the golden age, specifically all the various types of composers and what they do. The really cool thing is for vocal and dance arrangers I have these long lists that Trude compiled for a lecture or something so I know have this incredibly defined description of both of those roles with examples etc. I'm pretty proud.
So that's not what I'm worried about. What I'm struck with now is Trude! The One Woman Show. I've thought about this for some time and now that I have this weekly assigment in my "playcrafting and dramaturgy" class to creat an adaptation from a non-fiction source and describe it in a page and then give a sample of the script. So it's not like I even have to come up with the whole thing. And as soon as I got this assignment I knew that was what I wanted to do...but I can't think of how...that's much more difficult. I thought at first it should just be her..but I think that would miss out on stuff...and I still like the idea of having a pianist be symbolize the composers and play and the dancers doing bits of choreography and also symbolizing the choregraphers...but then I need a through line and I thought it would be fun to put me as the narrator...but now I just feel dumb. That is all. So I'll probably turn something dumb in and I feel dumb about that obviously...but I don't know if she's meant to be a show folks...that's all I'm saying. Oy.
The things I like most right now is a kind of overture that is a medoly of parts of scores she was responsible for...starting with Small House and ending with the big beautiful vocals at the end of Camelot.