Many of us this week have been thinking perhaps more than usual how precious our children are to us, and in that spirit, here’s to the children in our lives, and here are the children of our most generous backers and most special friends, children who brighten our days and inspire our work.
The very first people I thanked in the acknowledgements page of A Horse With Wings were fellow Kickstarter project creators Cory Silverberg, Jordan Stratford, Ross Williams, and Peter Friedrich. Not only do these guys know how much hard work campaigning can be, but they helped me out so much, even spreading the word about KinderBard among their own backers.
Also, you may know that our KinderBard campaign signed up for Kicking It Forward, where successful project creators pledge to put 5% of their finished product profits back into other projects. And although it’s a long way until I’m likely to see any profits from this venture, I haven’t stopped pledging funds to other worthy projects I’ve discovered.
So I just wanted to quickly tell you about the two most recent projects I backed, both of whose project creators I have since been in personal touch with.
Romeo & Juliet: A Puppet Music Video not only has one of the most entertaining introductory videos you’ll ever see, but its creator, Dan Ring (Harvard grad, composer and musician) aims to create original music and videos featuring puppets to introduce kids to Shakespeare’s work, and he’s going to make these works available for free! I haven’t told Dan this yet, but I’m secretly hoping that we might be able to team up with him and his puppeting talent for some of KinderBard volume 2!
To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure is a chooseable-path adventure version of Hamlet, with truly amazing art and artists (I’m wondering if Sohyun may be asked to contribute?) where you can choose your character and decide your own fate! It’s all so self-empowering, and personally, I can’t wait to receive my Kickstarter-exclusive prequel mini-adventure called Poor Yorick!
We had a a rehearsal yesterday with our principal singers (they were both 4-year-olds, but yesterday Sherman turned five – the rehearsal took place after her birthday party…!) and we are so very excited for our upcoming studio session on Saturday, when we will be recording two of the most challenging songs, emotionally. They are “Alas, Poor Yorick” sung of course by Hamlet (Sohyun’s and Sherman’s favourite of all my songs so far), and “Butterflies” sung by Achilles from Troilus and Cressida, my personal favourite mostly because I think the structure and the lyrics are very elegant.
We have a feeling Julian’s going to be amazing!
So while we’re talking about songs, I thought I’d just note here the shortlist of all the songs we think will be in the album, Volume 1 of KinderBard: songs for children etc. etc. Many of you will have seen this list on our Kickstarter page, but I wanted to have it here too for posterity.
I Don’t Know What to Say sung by Cordelia from King Lear
It’s Not My Fault sung by Caliban from The Tempest
One Thing I Can’t Catch sung by Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Dirty Laundry sung by Falstaff from The Merry Wives of Windsor
I’m Going to Make You Love Me sung by Petruchio & Katherina from The Taming of the Shrew
You Treat Me Like a Football sung by Dromio of Ephesus from Comedy of Errors
A Horse with Wings sung by Imogen from Cymbeline
Alas, Poor Yorick sung by Hamlet from Hamlet
Crocodile Tears sung by Queen Margaret from Henry VI, part 2
What Is This Thing I Found? sung by the Old Shepherd & Perdita from The Winter’s Tale
Butterflies sung by Achilles from Troilus and Cressida
It’s Just a Name sung by Juliet from Romeo and Juliet
Smelly Dog sung by Launce from Two Gentlemen of Verona
I Don’t Like You, Really sung by Benedick & Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing
Let’s Pretend (to Be Happy) sung by Rosalind from As You Like It
And here’s the video that originally accompanied this list – a little presentation about our creative process (including a sneak preview of our new song One Thing I Can’t Catch performed by Sherman)
They say it all starts with the inspiration, so I’m fortunate to have the best muse one could wish for – William Shakespeare himself.
They say that this is the fun part, getting inspired, and it certainly is for me, because I get to sit in bed, propped up with pillows, and just read. Rereading Shakespeare takes me back places. Memorable theatre performances… I suddenly remember a school field trip to a Kabuki-style The Tempest performed entirely in Japanese, with the coolest Caliban ever. None of us spoke Japanese, and dare I say it, somehow that made the experience even better – the performance transcended language. I have countless memories of school productions, cinematic experiences, or just periods of solitary reading. Happy memories. They relax me.
But my mind is searching. As I read, I’m subconsciously looking for pieces of a puzzle, something that will fit. I’m thinking about how it feels to be four years old, my daughter’s age, what her life is like, what moves her. I’m looking for a gesture, a sentence, a particular situation in the play I’m reading, when I’ll suddenly have that ‘eureka’ moment and I’ll think, “My daughter would totally get this, if only it weren’t written in iambic pentameter!”
I’m not so presumptuous to I think that my job is making something from nothing. Because it’s already right there, all in the text, in words that were written four hundred years ago. When, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helena says, “Sickness is catching: O, were favour so, / Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;” I know that children have wondered whether their best friend is more popular, or more beautiful than they. When Beatrice and Benedick bicker in Much Ado About Nothing, I remember that I was once a prurient boy who tried to disguise my curiosity by tormenting the objects of my affection. And even one isolated line like “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him,” brings back my own fond memories of grandparents and affectionate older friends long gone, and suddenly I’m a child again.
So I’m reading and understanding Shakespeare using everything I’ve learned, all my adult tools, but I’m having to see his words through a child’s eyes, and finally, to express that essence in song, using a child’s words. Once I’m in that childlike state, the song just comes, taking the form of any one of a multitude of nursery rhymes I’ve absorbed over the years, and this completes my creative process.
They say that “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Actually, Picasso said that. And in my case, it’s problem solved, because my work takes me back to that childlike state again, and every time, it feels as if the stars are aligned.