Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Soundtrack Meets IWSG

Oh dear. It's happened again. The Soundtrack of My Life just crashed into something.

Moving merrily along, minding its own business when...


It ran into this...

A once a month hop in which writers share their insecurities.

Since the soundtrack thus far has mostly been about insecurity, you'd have thought I could've saved just one more post for this joint endeavor.

It turns out the next post in my Soundtrack feature happened in the 8th grade. Jennifer The First, Jenny, and I auditioned for a community theatre production (a pretty big deal for a group of 8th grade girls). I'm fairly certain that I had no idea the level of impact this one play would have on me. Yeah, I can say with certainty that I did NOT.

What was this play? Jesus Christ Superstar.

The obvious impact was that being in it cemented my love for the theatre in general, musicals as a whole. The not-so obvious impact was that it made me take the story of Jesus and truly understand (Listen with your ears if you have them!) that the life of Jesus was real. Not just a story. Quite suddenly, these people came very much alive for me. I'd never considered what it was like to actually live it. To be Jesus. To be Peter.  To be Mary (both of them). To be Judas. Even to be Pilate. I didn't understand what they were up against (an oppressed people) heavily regulated by Rome and even the priests' interpretation of the OT. Life was hard. And scary. And Jesus rocked the boat big-time, making it even scarier.

As we moved from rehearsing portions of the play into doing the whole thing at once, I found myself getting chills from the start (it began with Judas singing Heaven On Their Minds). When Judas killed himself, I began crying. Every. Single. Time. And continued crying through the crucifixion of Jesus. Pretty much cried to the end. Turns out that was okay since the people on stage were sad, mourning the loss of Jesus. And then when he rose again, they were so happy that crying was still acceptable. 

I think it's safe to say that this play caused me to look at Jesus, and all of the people who were part of his life, in a whole new way (life changing stuff, indeed!).

I never thought of Judas as anything other than the betrayer before this musical. That was who he was, but not all of who he was. He was chosen. He was one of the disciples. He left everything, like the rest, to follow Jesus. Things got really hot in the kitchen, so to speak, and Jesus wasn't doing what any of them expected. It got scary. I'm not sure that this song gets it all precisely right from the perspective of Judas, but it certainly provides food for thought.



Have you seen Jesus Christ Superstar? Did it make you consider the "players" in a different light?

How does this relate to the IWSG? As writers, we struggle to breathe life and relatability into our stories. We want people to laugh and cry with our characters. We want them to finish and feel like they were real. It's something I struggle with in my WiP and maybe you struggle with in yours. Maybe the answer to achieving this is to look at our characters in a new way. Write a song for them. Keep a journal for them. When they become real to you, they can become real to your reader.

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and the "minions" who help this event run smoothly every month!

What sort of exercises do you do to make your characters come alive?

If you're enjoying these posts, feel free to share your own Soundtrack. This isn't a hop. No requirements at all, but a suggestion to do it one song at a time. (If you participated in the hop several years ago, you can still do this. Just post them one song at a time, with the freedom to add more songs if you'd like.) I'll link to all participants at the bottom of each of these posts:

StMcC Presents BATTLE OF THE BANDS

45 comments:

  1. It's funny how things from our childhood can mold us for great things as adults. I have a friend who wrote the Bible from the perspective of Judas. It was difficult to read because it grated against my very core but, that's how I knew it was also written well.

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    1. I simply never thought too much about the people in Jesus' life until this play. However, they were very real people.

      I'm sure it was difficult to read your friend's story. People can do terrible things for reasons that seem right at the time. As one of the disciples who saw the miraculous things Jesus did, I have to wonder if Judas didn't think he was pushing Jesus to take over his role as King of this world (which was what they seemed to think despite being told otherwise). OR that Jesus would save himself if it all went too far south. Literally fly off the cross or something like that and beat down their oppressors... and ultimately reigning as King on this earth. My mother says she thought Judas was trying to force his hand. I tend to agree. But I think he (and many of the 12) thought it was so he could reign right here. Jesus said many politically charged things and they expected him to upset the Elite rule of Rome, which had a stranglehold on their people.

      Of course, the other disciples got to see Jesus rise again and finally! understand what Jesus did. Judas killed himself before getting that understanding. It's really very sad (for Judas) and a Gift for everyone else.

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  2. I like that being a part of the production gave you a lifetime love of theatre. I haven't seen it! They had a live show in the next town over not long ago and I considered going but for some reason or other we had to skip it. I'm way way way behind on this one. ;)

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    1. Rosey, it's different than most musicals in that entire thing is done in song. I believe it's actually called a rock opera. For anyone who loves music, a rock opera is a spectacular thing to watch (or be in).

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  3. Love the music in that play, especially "I Don't Know How to Love Him." I think your'e talking about making characters well-rounded. No one is all bad or all good in real life so we have to make sure our fictional characters aren't either. I read my stuff aloud, especially the dialogue, and ask myself if real people would talk this way.

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    1. Karen, I love all the songs, too. "I Don't Know How To Love Him" is a great one. Whenever I listen to "Could We Start Again Please?" I end up singing it for days afterward. I almost used the second one, but I didn't want all of you chastising me for putting a song in your head you couldn't squelch.

      I sometimes read aloud, too. It really does help to hear if it sounds clunky or just not realistic.

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  4. I saw a huge production of "Superstar" at one of those mega-churches. I was impressed.

    So were you in the chorus for the production?

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    1. As an 8th grader among adults, I was in the chorus. For this play, that was pretty darn awesome. The chorus was on stage most of the time!

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  5. Robin, I have not seen the play. You're right in that Jesus doesn't do what we think he should and it does get kinda scary at time. But He's never let me down and I'm a batter person for that.

    And my editor gave me character logs to use to develop my characters. With out my awesome editor, I wouldn;t be where I am today.


    Stephen Tremp
    IWSG Co-host
    www.stephentremp.com

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    1. The more I read my Bible, the more I comprehend how radical Jesus was to the people at that time (and even now). So many things he said and did simply went against the grain (as well as human nature). It's not easy being a disciple of Christ.

      Character logs. Is that a journal for each character? Or an outline detailing what each character is doing? I guess I don't know what that means...

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  6. Hi, Robin...

    Wonderful insight in this particular musical. I had only seen the film version, but it certainly did move me.... I like your insight about Judas... yes, he certainly was chosen and he had one of the hardest parts to play in the crucifixion of Jesus. It was his fate.

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    1. Ironically, I've never seen the movie version.... As for Judas, he did have one of the hardest parts to play.

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  7. GIRL WONDER ~
    That's pretty nice when you can cry through every scene and still be right in character and maintaining the tone of the scene. (SERIOUSLY: Just the fact that you were crying at all is testimony to your sensitivity.)

    I've seen the movie and it wasn't really my cuppa joe. In fact, Judas' "singing" in 'Heaven On Their Minds' is a bit harsh for my ears. However, I do think this captures his mindset pretty well. I believe the primary disconnect was that Judas was viewing the prophecies primarily, if not solely, from a political angle. While, in actuality, Jesus was on a Spiritual mission, because once you get the Spiritual down, everything else - including the political - falls into place.

    Did last night's E-agle land?

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Stephen T-if you have never heard the original cast, the singers were better (Murray Head as Judas, Deep Purple's Ian Gillen as Jesus).

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    2. Yes, actually, I have heard that. It's been so long since I saw the movie and heard the original score that I can't keep them apart in my mind.

      The whole thing really didn't appeal to me at all though. The Gospel story updated with a modern twist? Nah, no thanks, I prefer my Bible stories to seem genuinely ancient. I'll take 'The Robe', 'Ben-Hur', etc.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    3. I think the primary point I was trying to make here is that as an 8th grade girl who grew up in the church so many of the "other" people in the Gospels were simply not real to me. It was like Jesus was this real guy and everyone else cardboard cutouts that mouthed words. I really hadn't considered what it was like to be Jesus' mother (Mary) or any of the rest, including Judas. So this isn't about whether you like or dislike the modern twist on Jesus' story (for me). It was an earth shattering experience because they all became real.

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  8. I've never seen Jesus Christ Superstar. But you know...I have written songs for my characters and even songs for certain scenes and it really does help to nail down the emotion.

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  9. I've never seen Jesus Christ Superstar. But you know...I have written songs for my characters and even songs for certain scenes and it really does help to nail down the emotion.

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    1. That's a good idea. Why say it when you can sing it???

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  10. How wonderful it helped you to understand Jesus better.

    Judas is the perfect example of a well-rounded villain. They are never just evil and often start as good people who just allow things to take them down the wrong path.

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    1. I think the perfect villain in a story is one that never sees himself as the villain. He's got valid reasons for doing what he's doing. As you say, most people who make really bad choices didn't START there.

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  11. I think it's awesome it gave you a greater understanding of Jesus and those around Him.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, that is exactly what happened.

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  12. Making our characters 'real', yeah, that's a challenge. I'm also interested to know what Stephen Tremp means by 'character logs'. Every little bit helps. I think it's important to give them the freedom to express themselves (probably the way we want to express ourselves, without restraint, or feeling insecure, or embarrassed). While it's important to give a physical description of the character an emotional description brings me closer to understanding them and the why and wherefore of their actions. Really getting inside their head, having a feel for the dumb things they might do, or the smart things. Having a feel for their background, upbringing, past loves, etc, etc, etc. It's not easy without filling pages and pages of boring back story.

    With respect to 'Jesus Christ Superstar', been there and done that on several different levels. It's an interest perspective and interpretation by ALW of the Savior's life seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. Now, what I'm going to say next is ONLY my opinion, but I think it's important to take things like this with a 'grain of salt', so to speak. I don't even like the local minister or priest telling me what to think when it comes to the Bible. It's my personal belief that while all of these interpretations are interesting and can help our individual understanding, it is important to study the words of the Savior for ourselves and let the Holy Ghost testify to us the true meanings and value in our lives. It's just my suspicious nature to want to know for myself, and once I do, there is nothing that can turn me from those truths.

    All that being said; anything that leads to further study and inquiry is a good thing, IMO.

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    1. I've been down and out with a migraine since Tuesday (so glad I had all of this set and ready to go) because I've been operating on minimum capability for a while now.

      I think I mentioned something on STremp's blog about not knowing what a character log was. I'll go back and check to see if he replied to that.

      In no way do I think this rock opera replaces The Bible. It was a completely different interpretation that caused me to read my own Bible and see each person in the Gospel story as a PERSON and not a CHARACTER. So, yes, being a part of the play helped lead me further study and inquiry, which is a good thing.

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  13. Robin-

    I love JCS, and was also in a school production (auditioned for Judas, got Herod), still can sing every word and note and play the record every Easter.

    I think that the rock opera did help a bit of a Christian resurgence in the late 60's although the production certainly did not have the power of "The Passion Of The Christ." I actually felt pain after that movie.

    I never cared much for the movie version of JCS-would rather go see a high school play and hear the singing live, plus I felt that their casting of Jesus (Ted Neely?) went for the look but had a lousy voice, especially compared to the incredible performance Ian Gillan put it on the original London cast recording.

    If you say what part you landed, I have ready past it a couple of times.

    Larry

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    1. I still love this play. I think it offers interesting insight on what some of the lesser talked about people in Jesus' story were thinking. Or at least causes a person to think about it for themselves.

      In our community theatre production of this number, King Herod brought down the house every night with his number. (They guy who played him was in many community theatre productions and was very good.) So, you had the flexibility with that one to make it a fantastic number.

      As one of three 8th graders in a cast of adults, I was in the CHORUS. Of course.

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  14. I've heard much of the music, but have not seen the play. It is hard for the common man to see into Judas... a writer sees more, especially if you try writing him.

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    1. Frankly, I think there is some guess work going on when it comes to Judas. The Bible doesn't give many clues as what he was THINKING.

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  15. Hi Robin, I know it had to have been a thrill to participate. I'm happy it remains a treasured memory. At such a young age, you were a brave, enthusiastic soul.

    My older brother played the album quite a bit. Some of it was quite pleasant to me. However once I saw the movie version I was no longer interested. Sudden'y the words became actions that I could not correlate - maybe that was it. I don't really know what happened.

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    1. I've heard most people say that they weren't all that fond of the movie. I still haven't seen it. Can't say I particularly want to now...

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  16. Favorite story in our house: Jesus Christ Superstar is on the television and the Judas character, dressed in red, is singing "Heaven on Their Minds" in the background as Jesus and his disciples walk along in the foreground. My middle son walks through the room and glances at the television and says (as if he is Jesus), "Oh, look, Peter - it's Spiderman."

    I guess you had to be there but it is ingrained in family legend.

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    1. That is funny. Your middle son has quite the sense of humor.

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  17. I remember our music teacher playing the soundtrack to the show in class. Probably never get away with that nowadays in a public school. I've read many books about Judas and he was more than what I thought of him as a child.
    Susan Says

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    1. No, I can't imagine a teacher being allowed to play that now.

      Interesting. I wasn't even aware there were many books out there theorizing about Judas. But it stands to reason there are...

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  18. I relate to your love for something that has touched a heart during acting. I was an extra for the New Testament Project and while I was in the tent, the Roman Soldiers came in in their fancy getup (impressive to see armor and red flowing capes when you're dressed as a drabby Hebrew and so is everyone else!).

    Well, that day, they had acted out the scene where they crowned Christ with thorns and whipped him. You can tell. These actors came in subdued, teary eyed, and humbled. They had a difficult time sharing their experience because of the reenactment of someone (Christ) the loved being hurt and abused. Touching indeed...

    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥

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    1. Wow. It doesn't get any more real than holding the whip does it?

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  19. I will come back and respond to each of these, but I've had a terrible migraine the last few days (so thankful for the ability to schedule posts!).

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  20. Dear Robin, I hope you feel better now. I thank you for your words on my post. I do love Jesus Christ Superstar. It meant a lot when I was young and also made me see things different in regards of him and those that surrounded him. It was quite enlightening and I even learned the songs by heart. I have the movie and the soundtrack. Thanks for reminding me those days.

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    1. I think that seeing those people as REAL PEOPLE really changes everything.

      I hope you feel better, too:)

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  21. I am playing catch up. Today I am in so much pain and so tired I can't function well. It must be the baremetric (spelling??) pressure. I hope you will regain your strength soon. Have you looked into Botox yet? In the last 3 months, my friend has had only 2 migraines so no matter how many needles she will keep doing it. It is so funny because that song was my little anthem when I was in High School. When I was in University, I had one of those idiots talk to me as well and I realized she was so insecure and scared and was using me at that moment due to her fears. I also knew she would revert to same old as soon as she felt she could attach to someone "popular". Whether she did or not, I never fell for it. My epiphany came when I visited by brother's University when I was in Grade 12. His friends talked to me as if I were equal and treated me with dignity and fairness. It changed my life and no longer did those idiots in High School have control over me. I had control over me and the bullying stopped just like that.

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    1. I tried Botox and it didn't work for me. I think relieving my migraines means getting into all that emotional stuff and letting it go. Keeping my allergies under control. Eating healthy. And now I've added neck massage because my neck is so stiff that it seriously hurts. I think it's from keeping all that tension there for such a long time.

      There is nothing like being treated as the valuable human being you are to put things into perspective. That is life changing stuff!

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  22. Hope you're feeling better, Robin. I also hope Dixie is on the mend. I don't think I ever saw the entire musical, but I still remember singing along with a few of the songs. It's very impressive that you made a community theater production when you were only in 8th grade! They probably thought you were a "method" actress/singer when you couldn't stop crying, Robin!

    Julie

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    1. I don't know. They probably needed warm bodies and I was one. I was also an enthusiastic warm body who showed up on time for rehearsal. That couldn't have hurt!

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  23. I LOVE that the musical Jesus Christ Superstar brought you closer to HIM and understanding him. That is the coolest story! I've seen the movie and the musical and I have the soundtrack. Its one of my most favorite ones on Broadway. My favorite is I don't know how to love him which is sung by the character of Mary.

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