Email from David Thomas to the cast and musicians of Mirror Man
All the i's are dotted and t's crossed and we're rolling on MIRROR MAN. Now that it's too late-- heh heh-- I thought I should give a brief introduction and marginal pep talk. I can't remember what I've said to who so if I repeat myself just bear with me.
Many of you have worked with me before and know what to expect. For the others I should note a few things.
1. I operate on a need-to-know basis. I model my m.o. on the CIA and other fine like-minded establishments. The conceptual rationalization I've arrived at to explain myself is as follows: Whatever I tell you will corrupt the process so the less talk the better. I choose co-workers with a view to a hoped for chemical reaction. I don't know what that reaction will be but if you put interesting and talented people together something worth doing is bound to happen. The object is, as Mr. Kidney has pointed out, Reality.
2. Anything that can be explained isn't worth doing.
3. I aim to get things to sit just below the level of competence and then rely on inspiration and fear. The real reason I work this way is that I loathe rehearsing. The conceptual rationalization is as follows:
a. Everybody knows what a song is; that if you find yourself in a verse then a chorus will be appearing soon and that a chorus has certain well known characteristics; thatafter an obvious number of choruses have happened then there's a bridge where the instrumental people get to do something and the singers drink beer and pose with sensitive and/or pained expressions.
b. A song is best the first few times it's played into existence. All the musicians are cooperating to bring order to chaos, the focus on The Moment is sharp. The Unexpected is not seen as a mistake but as a natural event that enlightens the experience. Spontaneous generation encourages the expansion of ideas and intrudes a semblance of the real world into the process.
c. Plus I hate rehearsing. You have been chosen for Mirror Man because of who you are as an artist. I want you to be you, not to play a part that's in my head. The more cozy we are, the more comfortably we settle into a routine, the less likely we are to get the "danger" of you being you.
All that said, most of all don't worry. It real does work out. I am a laissez-faire perfectionist.
What is Mirror Man?
The most important thing to do at this point is to listen intently to the MEADVILLE disk. Its themes are the themes we will be pursuing. Its sound and approach are the foundation of what we will be doing. Mirror Man is based on the notion that geography, like the truth, is a mirror. In it a man may see himself as he really is, or he may choose to look away. The dramatic setting is borrowed loosely from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology by way of my faulty memory: I remembered the book as being a prose piece in which the dead inhabitants of a small town cemetary step forward in turn to testify.
The characters (Linda, Robert, Jackie, Daved and Jane) will be seated on a semi-circle of chairs, minstral show style. Bob is not a character. His role is to provide the scenary by spoken word. I am the narrative voice. Characters will be called forward to testify. This can be spoken or sung. You will know your roles as best I can manage to describe them and you will have some words which you can treat freely. Some of you will be given more to work from than others. I will base this on my estimate of what it will take to "play" you to the greatest effect. I also hope that you will contribute as occurs to you. I am asking Robert, for example, to tell a story he once told me about the background to one of his songs. Some of the songs will be ones I've already written, some will be specifically written for this.
I have already gotten together with the 2pbs (Keith and Andy) and we've compiled music for much of the show. In the next month I will be formulating the scenes and words. The music to a piece will be a series of themes and tones. You will know where to start. Once started the task is easy. Just go.
That's all for now. I am currently on tour in Germany and will return to England Jan 26. At that point I will be working full-time on this project til Glory Day.