ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshops
PHOTO: Stephen Schwartz and Craig Carnelia at an ASCAP panel discussion - Photo by Terence de Giere
2017 ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop
Similar to NY description below.
Workshops are usually held at 7:00 p.m. sharp, at ASCAP, 5th Floor, One Lincoln Plaza (Broadway between 63rd and 64th Streets) in New York. They are by invitation only.
Chosen workshop participants will have the opportunity to present selections from their original works in progress for professional critique. Other people may attend as audience members. Each session will feature prominent guests from all aspects of musical theatre, including producers, directors, critics, performers and composers.
Past panelists have included Lynn Ahrens (Tony Award-winning lyricist: Ragtime);
Stephen Flaherty (Tony Award-winning composer: Ragtime); Sheldon Harnick
(Tony Award-winning lyricist: Fiddler on the Roof); Mark Hollmann (Tony
Award-winning composer/lyricist: Urinetown); Rupert Holmes (Tony
Award-winning librettist and composer/lyricist: Drood); and Joseph Stein
(Tony Award-winning librettist: Fiddler on the Roof).
The ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop in New York is part of an ongoing series of workshops sponsored by The ASCAP Foundation to nurture new American musicals. The workshops are free of charge and are open to everyone, regardless of performing right affiliation.
These sessions are open for aspiring musical writers. Stephen Schwartz comments, "One of the things I like most about the ASCAP/Disney workshop is that I feel it is as useful to the aspiring writers that attend who are not presenting musicals, as it is to those that are presenting their work. The issues that are raised, the ideas, criticism and suggestions offered by our panels are applicable to the work of every musical creator in the room."
The workshop is free of charge and open to everyone, regardless of performing right affiliation. All aspiring musical theatre writers are encouraged to attend.
Stephen Schwartz serves as artistic director for the annual Disney/ASCAP Foundation workshops in Musical Theatre held in Los Angeles in January and February and the ASCAP Foundation workshops in New York City every spring.
FORMAT FOR PREVIOUS YEARS
In advance of the workshops, composers and book writers submit works in progress for review. A few are selected for short presentations at the workshops. Professional songwriters and others in the field provide feedback on the shows being presented that evening while onlookers absorb the insights offered.
I Create Music - ASCAP's annual festival for songwriters.
History - From the first one, 2006
Stephen Schwartz moderated one of the many Career Building Workshops at the first ASCAP expo in 2006, and in all likelyhood will be an integral part of next year's event. The panel on Friday, April 21st was called Pop Music: Knockin' on Broadway's Door. They discussed the influence of Pop music on Broadway. To what degree does it succeed and what part has it played in the evolution of the Broadway musical? Top Broadway writers in a discussion of this new trend.
Photo by ASCAP/Erik Philbrook. (l-r) ASCAP's Director of Musical Theatre Michael Kerker, Eric Whitacre, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Bray and Henry Krieger
Moderator: Stephen Schwartz Composer: Broadway: Wicked, Godspell, Pippin
Stephen Bray Songwriter: Broadway: The Color Purple, "Express Yourself"
Henry Krieger Composer: Broadway: Dreamgirls, The Tap Dance Kid
Eric Whitacre Composer: Paradise Lost, Sleep, Cloudburst
Over 1,200 songwriters and composers, 200 panelists and 500 music industry professionals packed into the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles April 20-22 to participate in the sold-out ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO. The three-day event, sponsored by Gibson Guitar, the world's premier musical instrument manufacturer, is the first-ever major entertainment industry conference dedicated to songwriting and composing.
"As the only U.S. performing rights organization owned and operated by songwriters, composers and music publishers, we decided to utilize one of our greatest strengths when developing the programming for the EXPO -- each other, " said ASCAP President and Chairman Marilyn Bergman. "I sincerely thank the remarkable range of music creators and music industry representatives who so generously agreed to share their expertise, and all the registrants for attending. Your participation has turned ASCAP's first EXPO into a true landmark event, and I look forward to seeing you all again at next year's EXPO."
The non-stop menu of education, entertainment and excitement proved to be a recipe for success for the eager-to-learn attendees who traveled from all 50 US states and abroad, including Australia, the Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom, to discover new technology, share knowledge and experience, develop new skills, inspire one another and celebrate the craft of creating music.
By Shawn McCarthy
Originally published for The Schwartz Scene
According to Webster's the verb nurturing means: "To help grow or develop; cultivate." Since its inception in 1977 the New York-based American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) Musical Theatre Workshops have strived to accomplish a nurturing environment for talented, up and coming composers, lyrists and book writers.
Although nurturing new talent has consistently been part of the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshops, in many ways its purpose and mandate has evolved over the years and in particular since Stephen Schwartz assumed the helm as the Artistic Director in 1993.
Michael Kerker, Director of ASCAP's Musical Theatre division explains, "In 1977 Charles Strouse (composer of ANNIE, BYE BYE BIRDIE, RAGS among others) became the Artistic Director of the workshops whose purpose at that time was really to help develop projects that were well on their way and essentially almost ready for prospective producers to consider. There would be 12 – 15 projects presented by different writing teams for a group of panelist which, included theatre critics as well as well-known musical writers, who would provide feedback to each team. As well an audience of on-lookers who were allowed to vocalize their feedback as well."
This format remained intact until Charles Strouse stepped down and Stephen Schwartz assumed the leadership in 1993. Kerker continues, "When I approached Stephen he was somewhat reluctant at first partially because of some unpleasant experiences participating in similar workshops run by another organization and partially because he found the format of our workshops at that time unappealing." Stephen however did finally agree to come on board with the understanding that there'd be changes made to structure of the workshops. These changes included: a smaller number of projects being presented (4 –6) that were at a fairly early stage in their development, theatre critics were no longer among the panelists and direct audience feedback was eliminated. "Audience feedback had too often become individuals contradicting the panelists which is really not very helpful to the writing teams," continues Kerker.
These changes were only the beginning of Stephen's impact on the workshops.
"He is a tremendous teacher who possesses such charisma and commitment. He spends time with each writing team privately before the workshops and explains the guidelines, and encourages them to listen carefully to the feedback from the panelists, maybe even tape record what's being said so they can listen to it again later. He also helps them understand that panelists aren't always right and to not take everyone's feedback to heart."
In the workshops themselves Stephen acts as co-host (along with Michael Kerker) and moderator in addition to being on the panel itself. Generally the panel consists of 3 industry people – musical theatre writers, producers, artistic directors etc. – and Stephen who typically speaks last in order of sequence.
"He provides both very insightful, specific feedback on the work as well as general feedback on some of the key rules of writing for the musical theatre," says Kerker.
An example of Stephen's insightfulness occurred recently at a Disney/ASCAP Workshop held in February in California (Stephen runs both the New York, and since it's inception in Oct 1996, the West Coast workshops cosponsored by Disney.) On this particular night, after the 55 minute presentation of the first act and a short intermission, Stephen pointed out to the talented writing team of "McGinty's Wake" (Brian Patrick Mulligan and Frank Palmieri) that one of the integral requirements in musical theatre writing is the need for the protagonist or main character(s) to desperately want something I.E. they are on a quest. As well, there needs to be another character or group of characters that's standing in the way or are somehow trying to prevent this from happening (the device also known as conflict). This salient plot device was somehow missing or not entirely clear and Stephen was highlighting it as an area for the team to further develop.
"Stephen is very much aware that he's not only speaking to the writing team but also to the audience in attendance many of whom are writers, producers and industry people themselves," continues Kerker.
Stephen's commitment to fostering gifted writers doesn't end there however. In 2000 he was named artistic director for "In the Works", a new ASCAP Foundation/Kennedy Center joint musical theater development program. It's through this program that shows are further developed as they are readied for, hopefully, a full production.
Such was the case with a show written by Emmy-awarding winning Paris Barclay whose show "Letters From 'Nam" was first presented at the ASCAP/Disney Workshops and then subsequently developed at the Kennedy Center through the "In the Works" program. This resulted in the show receiving a full production, which premiered at the North Shore Music Theatre in 2001 opening to both critical and public acclaim.
As Stephen continues to infuse the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop's with his wisdom, energy and insight, no doubt they will continue to be of tremendous benefit and education to writers and on-lookers a like.
Kerker perhaps sums it up best, "Whether you're one of the writer's or an audience member, you always take away a bit of Stephen when you've been to one of the workshops."