Friday, November 22, 2013

Slumberland: Before Dress

Dream Master

Adventures In Slumberland opens a week from tomorrow. I had the opportunity to enjoy a run-through on Wednesday evening, the first opportunity they had to conduct one since the previous Sunday. The amount of work they had performed since my last visit, some ten days earlier, was remarkable.

Having the opportunity to share this comic strip, which had made such an impression on me and countless others, in a live stage performance, has been a, uh, well ... a dream of mine, for some time.

There have been other theatrical productions based on Little Nemo. In 2012, composer Daron Hagen and lyricist J.D. McClatchy were commissioned by the Sarasota Youth Opera to create such a work, and devised a two-hour opera, a hero's quest in which Emperor Sol seeks to destroy Slumberland by making it day all the time.

Lyrics include:
We need a world where things are different.
We need a world we can’t control, 
Where nothing is what it seems.
We need a world of dreams.
Even McCay himself produced a lavish stage production, with a cast of hundreds, of the kind only imaginable in the early 20th century opera houses or in university theater departments. My question was how could I write a script:
  • specifically for children
  • intended for a cast of half a dozen or so
  • produceable with a modest budget
  • running less than an hour
And even more important to me:
  • be always dreamlike
  • jump suddenly from place to place
  • feature a lot of characters
  • have no obviously coherent storyline
  • have always had a completely coherent storyline
  • NOT be a hero's journey
So much of what I adore about McCay's strip is that the language is completely bizarre. Maybe that was convention. Bill Watterson himself criticizes the actual writing in the strip, that the dialogue seems an after-thought. But I just find it all relevantly absurd.
NEMO: Santa Claus! What are you going to do? Where are we going? Where are your reindeer?
SANTA: Never mind, don't breathe.
Don't breathe? wtf?

I want to report here about all those items which are working so well in this expansive dream-in-miniature, but I am afraid of giving away anything. I can say this, every performer is filling his or her intended role just as I had hoped when we cast them.

Eight days now. They will be full days. Haven't even seen the costumes on them yet.

This is another dream I had.

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