If the video above didn't grab you, here's a less formal overview by the director.
The Future Soon is a sci-fi musical, based on songs by Jonathan Coulton, where two young roboticists try to save the world while the girl who loves them becomes their cyborg nemesis.
That's the 10-second version. The full version is a 107 page script with 18 songs. If you've never seen a full length Broadway style sci-fi musical before, you're not alone, and we think you should. We're here to help.
If you know who Jonathan Coulton is, you can skip ahead; if not, it's time you learned. This is him*:
*Our editor says it should be "this is he", but that sounds pedantic.
He's a programmer turned singer-songwriter, and he writes songs about people and relationships...computers, robots, cyborgs, and geek culture in general. Head over to http://www.jonathancoulton.com and take a listen--we'll wait.
Great stuff, eh? We think so, too. And because he generously releases his music under the Creative Commons Open Source license, people can have fun with it on their own. Inspired by that, we want to make The Future Soon an Open Source musical. We're still working on the details, but that's one of our goals. And we've already done more than just use his music for free. We have worked with his team at Joco Heavy Industries, including Scarface himself, for almost a year, and have a contract to use his music for this production. We don't just want to use his music, we want to share it, and we want him to benefit.
Back to us
Before unleashing our script on unwary thespians and audiences, we feel honor bound to suffer some slings and arrows and see if the show really works. How do we do that, you ask? By staging a "workshop production." What that means is doing the show, on stage, for the very first time. Full sets, lighting, costumes, and special effects. Perform it in front of an audience to see what they like and what they don't. Find out how long it runs. Does the dialogue work? Do we need to fix the pacing of scenes? Do people like the music, care about the characters and, ultimately, enjoy the show? That's what this campaign is all about.
What we've done so far
- A complete 107 page script (down from a high of 126)
- Numerous script reviews
- Musical arrangements
- Two table readings
- Contract negotiations with Joco Heavy Industries
- Budget estimates
- Facility evaluations
- Concept Art
- Costume, set, lighting, and FX R&D
- Full concept recording
What's that, you say? A concept recording? Good question. When a new musical is written, you need to hear actors singing the parts, and make sure the songs help move the story forward. We've heard our actors sing the songs, but you haven't. And while we love Joco singing his own songs, we have women singing some of them, and chorus numbers. You don't know what that will sound like either. So we went into the studio and recorded all the songs we use in the show. In some cases we did a song with more than one actor, for comparison. A few songs also got a little Broadway treatment, e.g., adding a big finish at the end.
Here is Tyson Bates and the ensemble singing the opening number.
And this is Sarah Howard doing The Big Boom.
Alyssa Hill does a beautiful job on When You Go, with the ensemble humanizing JeNeale Gunnell's arrangement.
Finally, here are two versions of the finale, the first with BJ Howard and Sarah Howard, the second with Tyson Bates and Alexandra Jarratt.
You'll notice that various pledge levels have concept recording tracks as rewards. If you like the clips you just heard, you'll want to pledge at those levels to get the complete versions, and all the songs. You want to hear the big finish, right?
This campaign is what's next. We can't develop the show further without actually staging it, and to do that we need money. We've self-financed everything so far, but just don't have enough in our pockets to mount a high-level production, and we think the workshop production needs to attain a certain level of quality to build further interest in others producing the show. We've done theatre on-the-cheap, but it's a technically complex show including robot and cyborg costumes, projection screens, and an apocalyptic event.
How much people pledge will determine what we can improve in different facets of the production. Our initial goal is the starting point. If we have $50,000, upgraded costumes and special effects are the first priority, but everything improves a bit. If we reach $125,000, we scale everything up, including moving the production to a facility used by big touring shows when they come through town.
How many backers we get will also help us gauge the interest in an Open Source version. If it looks like there's no crossover between Joco fans and theatre types who would love to do this show someday, we need to know that. On the other hand, if there is a huge outpouring of support, proving that people are starved for high quality, modern musicals, we'll be thrilled beyond belief. Not only that, it will show other potential investors and supporters that the demand is there, and your chances of being able to see or do the show locally go up astronomically.
Where? When? Who?
We've done all our readings and recordings near Boise, Idaho, and have a lot of contacts in the area excited to support us. Facilities and other costs are also lower in this area, and we want to make your donations go as far as possible. There are a number of suitable facilities in the area, ranging from 200 to over 1,000 seats. Availability and this campaign's success will dictate the venue.
We plan to mount the show (4-8 performances) by the end of the year, mid-December if possible, which is very aggressive. Putting the show up on a short timeline will keep our momentum going and help us eliminate things that aren't necessary. If we have to push back a month to get a facility, we will, but no more than that. We'll announce specific dates once the campaign is over and we've booked the facility.
Eric will act as producer, oversee finances, and drive the robot design. Gregg will direct the show, and JeNeale will act as music director and manage logistics. We know a great choreographer, technical designer, artists, and costumers, all ready to jump in when we say Go!
We'll also reach out to Makers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maker_culture), because we think they'll come up with things that make the show amazingly cool, and to our friends in the BSU and College of Idaho theatre departments and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Students and apprentices often need places to intern. Working on an ambitious original show, in its first production, will be a great learning experience.
You want more?
Head over to http://www.futuresoonthemusical.com and you can find a synopsis of the story, download snippets of the script, get more details on the creative team, see photos and video clips from some of our gatherings, and become a rabid zomb...er, fan.
Let me sum up
If you're a Jonathan Coulton fan, we think you'll love hearing his songs in the context of a story that ties them together. If you're a theatre fan, it's your chance to support an incipient, perhaps mutant, species of Broadway musical. And if you just like (sometimes bad) comedy, the not-so-occasional homage to other great sci-fi works, programming, robots, cyborgs, or zombies, there is plenty for you to enjoy as well.
And we'll see you in the future...soon.
(Man, that joke just never gets old)
Clearly, some rewards won't be available until after the production. The ship date for rewards is for all items that can be delivered before the production. For example, stickers, posters, and concept recordings can be delivered as soon as the campaign is successful. The archive video is a post-production reward.
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges of staging the basic show are very low, as we have a lot of experience in this area. Where things get tricky is in the technology. Projection screens play a large part in the show, but can't overpower or distract by being too much or low quality. And while we have a number of ideas for how to create convincing robots and cyborgs (zombies are easy by comparison), it will take time to prototype and refine them. Finally, we want to stage the production by the end of the year if possible. The challenge there is scheduling the facility around the many Christmas productions that abound. Worst case, we'll have to push back a bit because not having a theater is kind of a showstopper.
We have the music, the rights to use it, actors chomping at the bit to perform it, and we have Joco's blessing. Those WERE our biggest risks. The rest, by comparison, should be easy.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)