by Samantha Baird, Dramaturg
Before stories were written down they were told in an oral tradition through song, dance, and performance, and that is exactly what we are going back to with this year’s music/dance/theatre workshop production of Rump. Rump: The Musical is an adaptation of Liesl Shurtliff’s bestselling novel Rump. The script for this production was written by MDT’s own Tim Threlfall, who is also the director for the workshop. However, the music for the show is completely devised by the cast of 10 and music director Randy Boothe. So how do you tell a story on stage that hasn’t entirely been written yet?
During the first week of rehearsals, the cast welcomed faculty member Teresa Love for an evening to learn more about storytelling. Love began the workshop with the cast in a circle and started a story about her experience driving to campus. She then asked the cast to continue her story with each person beginning their segment of the story alternating between “fortunately” and “unfortunately.” Through this exercise the cast learned how to keep an agreement with the audience about where the story is headed. The discussion was continued when she spoke about the different versions of The Three Little Pigs that have emerged over the years and how there were always certain elements that stayed consistent. Audiences will find that there are elements of the original Rumpelstiltskin that are still present in this workshop, including the characters of Rumpelstiltskin, the miller, the miller’s daughter, and the king, the bargain made and promises broken, and a power not yet understood. The storytelling workshop ended with the cast in small groups telling stories to each other with story cubes. The cast learned a lot and came together to continue building this all new musical.
What audiences end up seeing on the weekend of December 5-7 will be a brand new, never before seen on stage, retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. The show goes back to the roots of storytelling and oral tradition. I believe that through storytelling we are able to learn more about ourselves and how the stories we tell can change us and others for the better.