Recently, Kelley Jo and I shared excerpts from “Ducks on the Moon: A Parent Meet Autism…A Play with Music.” We performed about half of it on a lovely Thanksgiving evening. We participated in a salon with wonderful poetry readings by two poets from “Listen To Dis Community Arts Organization” (http://www.listentodis.com/), as well as a recitation of Hymns in Danish. Kathryn Ricketts (http://kathrynricketts.blogspot.ca/) and her research partner Terry Sefton offered a dance and cello performance as part of their “Stories of Windsor: Mapping and Mining Narratives of Place through Interdisciplinary Performance” based upon a story provided by our Kelley Jo. There was also some art work; truly a multi-genre arts-based evening.
We sought feedback from this artistic audience. I am starting to understand the iterative process of creating musicals or a play with music; at its heart is how the audience takes up the story—how it takes up the artography. Then, one need to change/adapt/alter aspects to better reflect both the artistic vision and, in our case our arts-based educational research (ABER) aims.
Coming from the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Kelley Jo and I really wanted to have a song that expressed the (seemingly) arbitrary behaviours of students with ASD when their environment is perceived to be unpredictable. Hence the song, “Guess I Missed those Cumulonimbus Clouds (Wendy the Weather Girl);” however, that connection was lost to some. Perhaps, we need to make that connection clearer in the script. Secondly, there was a suggestion that the music needs to be more incidental and parsed better throughout the play. I think we knew that one; we were just focussing on getting the songs performed on that initial performance. Generally speaking, people spoke to the power of the play, the power of that story—and to the power of the musical lyrics. We know we need to continue to refine our lyrics, but several commented the lyrics were quite clever and appropriate—good feedback to get for our first performance!