Transition Town – The Musical is the working title for a sparkling new musical to be written by Matt Harvey and Thomas Hewitt Jones, the team behind Rumpelstiltskin, this year’s hit Christmas show at The Egg Theatre, Bath. (Musical extract below)
We want to communicate the breadth and ambition of the Transition movement – to show that resistance is fertile, a half-full glass can be rose-tinted and, crucially, that if you reach for the stars you might just get to the pub.
Here is a little taster of a piece that Matt and Thomas have just written and which will most likely be included in the Musical; It's called Home is Where the Heart is
How can we possibly hope to do justice to such a diverse, ambitious worldwide movement in a musical? How can we not misrepresent it? The answer is: we’re not sure – but we intend to misrepresent it as accurately as we possibly can. We believe a musical is a great way to celebrate the Transition movement as, quite literally, something worth making a song and dance about.
We don’t yet know the particulars of our story – the Transition movement is alive with stories – the plan is to weave a witty, warm-hearted tale of dreamers and do-ers addressing the practical, emotional and philosophical questions thrown up by climate change and oil dependency. They’ll forge friendships, fall out, make-up, and do it all to catchy tunes and big dance numbers. We want to hear generational sing-offs, a Hedge Fund chorus, meet a SWIMBY* protest group, and create a joyous, uplifting musical that brings a bit of Broadway to raised beds everywhere.
"When Matt first mentioned the idea of "Transition Town: The Musical", I couldn't help laughing. There was something silly about it, but at the same time something rather wonderful. Doing Transition has many of the elements of great musicals: drama, moments of high tension, highs of great choral unity, moments when it all locks in beautifully and it feels more exhilating than anything else, and the fact that it needs a whole cast, not just one or two heroes. This is something designed to be performed by communities, and I really hope it becomes the 'Billy Elliot' for community activists, the 'We Will Rock You' for community energy, and the 'West Side Story' of rooftop gardeners. The world needs this musical. Please support it!".
This musical will be written for schools, amateur dramatic groups, Transition groups – in fact any group to that wants to engage their wider community in the challenging questions facing people across the world – in a friendly, uplifting and inspiring way.
We hope to introduce some of the principles shared by the Transition Movement and tell a very human story of change. We have been particularly inspired by Transition events and initiatives in our own towns.
*SWIMBY: Something Wonderful In My Back Yard** ** We think this might end up being the title of the show!
The Project Plan:
We hope to launch this project in March 2015 at an event in Totnes (Devon, UK) where we will invite supporters and anyone who’s interested to come along and meet the team, hear Matt and Thomas perform some of their material and share stories.
Over the following months Matt & Thomas will visit 5 Transition groups to research and gather material for the musical in small and lovely celebratory gatherings where we will invite groups to share their stories with us.
Matt & Thomas will then develop this material and will share some of the early stage stories and songs and an event in Autumn 2015 at The Ariel Arts Centre at KEVICC (King Edward VI Community College in Totnes). This will be an opportunity for friends and supporters to hear material for the first time and offer their thoughts and suggestions about future development.
During 2016, school and community theatre and music groups around Totnes will be invited to work on material with the guidance of an artistic and musical director (who we still have to find) in time for a premiere of the final show in July 2016.
After the premiere, a license to perform the show will then be available for use by other groups.
We hope to produce:
- Transition Town : The Musical a sparkling new musical for amateur groups telling the story of a community encountering some of the questions and issues around peak oil and climate change through catchy songs and exuberant dance numbers
- Transition Town : The Musical - The Documentary which will follow the journey of the project and allow us to share aspects of the project on
- The Blog, Where we plan to have monthly updates for sponsors and supporters
- The DVD and CD of the show
- A script, score and backing recordings for the show
- & Merchandise – Postcards, badges, tee-shirts will also be produced during the project.
Throughout the project we will invite people to get involved:
- We will have design competitions for the merchandise
- We will invite participants to add to the Blog
- We will be looking for directors and performers
Matt Harvey lives in Totnes which is recognised today as the place which the Transition Movement first popped up. Matt has been an encouraging voice and outspoken supporter of a number of the activities that have cropped up through the work of thousands of the town's inhabitants.
Recently Matt was poet in residence at Regen SW where he explored some of the questions around energy in his inimitable and inviting style producing ‘The Element in the Room’ - A collection of 30 poems inspired by renewable energy which has a foreword by the wonderful Jonathan Porritt. You can get a free e-copy of the book from www.regensw.co.uk
Thomas Hewitt Jones is an award-winning composer, winner of the 2003 BBC Young Composer Competition. He composed and produced the music for the four animated Mascot Films for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Most recently, Matt and Thomas have produced Rumplestiltskin – The Musical which is the Christmas Show at The Egg in Bath - This newly-commissioned fantasy tells of magic, mischief and menace in a thrilling take on the classic Grimm fairytale.
Praise for Rumplestiltskin
“Wit, charm and great songs” “With a fierce and feisty heroine at its heart, the Grimm fairytale – rarely seen on stage – gets a radical, risk-taking makeover” - The Guardian
"Combining great songs, a wonderful script and superbly performed set pieces that produce as good an example of family theatre as you're likely to see" - Listomania
"At the very centre of this production is great warmth that captures family values and a healthy sharing of fear alongside the triumph of good over evil." - Whats on Stage
Transition Town : The Musical was conceived by Chloe Uden who is Regen SW’s Arts and Energy Programme Manager. Chloe trained as a puppeteer, is an illustrator and has worked in the sustainable energy sector for 10 years.
“Over the past 10 years of working in the sustainable energy sector and thinking about how we engage people in questions around energy and climate change, I’ve become increasingly aware of the inadequacy of the usual methods of sharing facts and figures and arguing over which technological solutions are best. I think that the arts provide one of the few avenues for exploring these issues, creating a sense of shared or personal meaning and active collaboration and a space to deal with the inevitable emotional and human side of the story.”
This is a really ambitious project! 3 people will be working on the project for 18 months, materials, travel, filming, recording and photography, sets, costumes, merchandise, travel probably lots more! We need to raise a minimum of £40,000 and we're hoping to get some support from sponsors and funders but to kick this project off we need to raise at least £10,000.
We want lots of people to be involved in this project and we're hoping that through kickstarter we'll be able to reach and engage lots of people right at the beginning.
Support for the project:
Throughout this project we will be working closely with a number of partners including The Transition Network, Regen SW and number of community energy groups & KEVICC.
We also intend to work with other professional musical theatre specialists and amateur dramatics groups and sponsors.
Transition network: We will be working with the Transition Network to identify 5 transition groups to visit during the development of the project to explore some of the stories, questions, themes and challenges faced by people as they start to grapple with peak oil and climate changes.
Regen SW: Regen SW is a centre for expertise in sustainable energy. For the past 10 years Regen SW has been working with Community Energy Groups to support them in developing their own projects. Through this work, Regen SW has encountered a number of the challenges that we will be considering in the project. Regen SW will be supporting the project with communications and promotional support as well as ensuring that any funds are properly spent and accounted for.
Merlin’s reaction on being pitched the project "that's bonkers: we should definitely do it"
KEVICC is the largest school in Totnes and is the home of The Ariel Centre which has a wonderful theatre space which can seat up to 300 people. The school have offered us space to develop the work and staff, students and the wider community will be involved throughout.
'KEVICC has a long produced real quality performing arts shows and musicals, and are thrilled to think that our students might have the opportunity to collaborate with a community project such as this. Especially so as it reflects the links we have, and value, with Transition Town Totnes. It would add hugely to the students' experience and achievement and they are eager to be part of the project.'
You are brilliant! We love your curiosity! We hope you have enjoyed reading all the way through this document and we hope you will continue to support this project by finding a reward that suits you and /or sharing it with your friends :-)
This project has already been the beneficiary of support from the fabulous:
New Vision Media (who made the film for this kickstarter project)
Will Dolphin (how has taken most of the awesome photos above)
Amy, Laura, Jessamy, Tom, Finn, Finn, Heather, Corolla, Lydia, Izzy and Tess the dog (who provided the glamour in those pictures!)
Risks and challenges
The central aim of this project is to create an inspiring and engaging piece of musical theatre which can be used by groups around the world.
We don't want to just tell a story about Totnes (which would be fabulous, but...) we want to make sure that this piece is broader than that and relevant in a wider context. So we will be collecting stories and questions from 5 different transition groups to give us a greater breadth.
We know that once the project is complete we will need to make sure that the materials produced are going to support other groups in producing the show themselves. This is why we want to make a documentary of the process so that people can see what it's all about even if they didn't manage to see the first shows. We will also produce a DVD and CD, script and score/soundtrack to support groups who take on the project to do it themselves.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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