FESTIVAL COUNTDOWN: Returning to the Festival

With less than a week until the Festival, How to Break bookwriter/lyricist and Festival Alum Aaron Jafferis reminisces about his successes and memories (albeit sporadic)

since the 2007 Festival, and why returning to the Festival proves to be an important step in the development of his latest project.

Along with Rebecca Hart and Yako 440, I’m one of the authors of How to Break, a hip-hop musical about being ill, that will be showcased at this year’s Festival.

I’m pretty sure my and Ian Williams’ show Kingdom was in the NAMT festival 2007. Though I have no memory of the year 2007, I have evidence that it worked out well, since many of the contacts in my “theatre industry” Excel spreadsheet say “NAMT 07.” I also know that it was at the NAMT festival where folks from The Old Globe first got interested in Kingdom, which is what led to our first production, first agent, first improper liaison with a cast member, etc.

(Note: that last “first” is in dispute, thanks to differing definitions of words like “improper” and
“member.” And “first.”)

I can only assume the main difference in terms of process between then and now is that in 2007, Ian and I were sitting on our asses picking our toes (each our own asses and toes, thank you very much – please see reference in paragraph one to “cast.”) waiting for the next email from NAMT telling us what to do; whereas in 2014 my collaborators and I are so incredibly successful, juggling so many projects, that we have been delinquent in serious tasks like blog-writing and less serious tasks like finding a director and cast.

That said, we feel confident that when we (the How to Break team) get it together, NAMT will be able to tell us what to do with it. Unlike in my imaginary memory of 2007, NAMT now has fancy GoogleDrive spreadsheets for casting, fancy logos for all the shows, audio samples on the website, electronic clones of Branden Huldeen, etc.

Meanwhile, my collaborators and I are making up for the technological improvements made by NAMT since 2007 by regressing not only to a pre-digital age but to a pre-paper age.

(When was paper invented? Were the 10 Commandments written in stone because there was no paper, or because stone is an easier material with which to hit people upside the head?)

Kingdom presented difficulties in the NAMT 2007 festival process because Ian scored everything by hand, and the raps were very loosely scored. How to Break is attempting to make up for what it lacks in musical complexity (basically, one person sings all the songs and the other three rap) with an innovative aural score. Meaning we haven’t written any of the music down. (Shh, don’t tell Branden.)

All obnoxious ribbing aside, the support and detail-oriented guidance coming from NAMT throughout this process have been just what we need to get us all on the same page (a metaphorical page given that the score doesn’t exist, but a page nonetheless), and stands in stark contrast to my recent attempt to organize a tour of How to Break with my own theatre company, which crumbled due to the fact that I am not NAMT.

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