Students create a new piece of musical theatre

Aesops Fables
Aesops Fables

Students from Monash University have adapted a selection of the most theatrical of ancient Greek slave Aesop’s morality tales in their upcoming production of Aesop’s Fables.

Some of the tales will be familiar, some obscure, but will be witty and thought-provoking in this project that not only involves theatre, singing and composition students working together, but marks an exciting collaboration between the Centre for Theatre and Performance and the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music.

Aesop’s Fables represents the next phase in the practice-as-research teaching approach for the Bachelor of Performing Arts students, where they engage with theoretical concepts, as well as the formal structures and the conventions of musical theatre creatively.

Director Matthew Lockitt, from the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies, said Aesop’s Fables is one of the most exciting projects he has been involved with.

“Fifteen weeks ago I sat in a circle with my second-year students and we read a list of fables, and now here we are about to present a new musical with book, music and lyrics all written by the students,” Mr Lockitt said.

“Over the fifteen weeks we have been engaged in the process of adaptation, of lyric writing for the musical stage, of writing songs that develop character and plot, or exploring musical styles and techniques that express character.”

The process eventually shifted to staging where the ideas explored on paper have been tested and developed on stage. Aesop’s Fables as they have written it, offers a wide range of musical theatre styles from vaudeville to jazz, through to the sounds reminiscent of contemporary Broadway composers Stephen Sondheim, Michael John LaChiusa and Adam Guettel.

“To be involved in the creation of a space in which the students are able to explore the musical theatre form by creating it from the ground up to a fully realised production is one of the most satisfying opportunities of my directing and academic careers,” Mr Lockitt said.

“And who knows, maybe we’ll ignite a young writer’s desire to make musical theatre in the wider world.”

Aesop’s Fables will be on show from Thursday 24 October to Saturday 26 October 2013, at the Drama Theatre, Monash University Clayton campus. Entry is $10. To book your tickets call the Monash Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) Box Office on +61 3 9905 1111 or visit the MAPA website.

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