The Process / The Stage / Writing

Silly Wise Men


The “I Can’t, I’m Writing” theme continues. Lots of time spent in the dungeon rewriting, with a brief respite to the tower due to some welcome milder temperatures.

This rewrite isn’t a complete overhaul. It is more of a thematic realignment. Part of what we’ve always wanted to do with Liken was to model for our younger audiences ways the stories of the scriptures could be applied to various challenges they face today. So for this retelling of the Christmas story (if, indeed, that is what we’re doing — very hush-hush, you know), we’re applying different bookends. It doesn’t seem like much of a tweak, but I’ve been surprised by the ripple effect that has across the script to make sure all the scenes thematically support Amelia’s (our imaginer child) dilemma, while at the same time keeping Aaron’s songs intact so that we’d be giving fans of the movie version a familiar, yet fresh experience.

All a very left-brained experience.

Until Independence Day (appropriate timing), when I finally got to tackle a new scene that we’re wanting to add. It felt like for a few hours I got to step in glorious first-draft land, a far more fun, right-brained experience.

Photo by Mike King. Creative commons license. Some rights reserved.

I had a basic idea of where I wanted the scene to go and how I wanted it to feel. It would introduce the wise men to our version of the Christmas story. (Before any of my seven readers points it out to me, let me just say that I know the timing of the wise men’s story doesn’t exactly coincide with the original Christmas story. But please go with me on this. I think it might work. Plus, for bonus points, it gives us the chance to end up with a finale in the musical that looks just like the nativity that sits on your piano every Christmas.)

But as I started writing, the characters took it in a direction that was 47 percent sillier than I had anticipated. I think our wise men (Melchior, Caspar, Balthazar and Bob) came into the scene a little loose, perhaps because of being called into work on a holiday.

Time will tell if they survive their own rewrite, or whether we need to beat that extra 47 percent silliness right out of them. (We know we tread a fine line with the Christmas story to be especially reverent with the material, while at the same time we want to make keep our younger audiences engaged so they are invested right through to the end. We allowed ourselves a little bit of fun with the shepherds in the movie version. And this time around, the wise men might help shoulder that load a bit, along with Amelia’s parents. But we’ll be careful. Promise.)

Speaking of the rewrite, burning daylight here. Back to the dungeon…

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