'WHAT'S COOKING' is a blog series wherein the team behind Kitchen Party Theatre Festival gives you a closer peek at some of our secret ingredients, so to speak. What exactly does a recipe for artistic process call for? Who inspires our company members? What have they learned in the industry so far? What do they find interesting about the various characters they play? Today, 'Girls From Away' Co-Director & Lyricist/Composer Timothy Matson shares some Wednesday Wisdom about the development of new theatre & the magic that comes from working together.
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler
The most magical thing for me about making theatre is that baked into the very idea of this art form is collaboration. Working with other individuals to create a common goal. Taking a group of creative and clever minds and pointing them all at the same thing – how do we tell this story or create this event or explore this idea?
There’s some magic in there, don’t you think? That we take a group of artists, we take a written piece (finished or unfinished), we gather together in a room (or even online, as we’ve discovered in the past couple of years), and then we look at it together, and slowly work and chip and shift and explore and discuss and divine, and we end up with a piece of theatre. And all of us in that rehearsal room have our artistry revealed in that final product.
Like in the kitchen, when we take a bunch of ingredients, mix them together, stir them up, put them in the oven, and something wonderful comes out.
I’ve been lucky to work on a handful of brand-new musicals in that past several years, with Best Kind Productions, with Ghostlight Theater Camp, and now with Kitchen Party Theatre Festival. And for me, there really is no greater excitement than having creators, a cast, and a creative team, all together in a room, making a new musical.
One of the first new musicals I worked on was Kyle McDavid’s Impresario, which premiered at the LSPU Hall in May of 2017. When I look at the archival video of that show, or even just the written script and score, I remember little things from rehearsal, from our collaborative process, that now make up the fabric of the piece for any future iterations. Jeff flying across the stage as Laura the parrot and rakishly swishing his father boa; Pete pulling his fake beard with a wink to the audience during the song “Old Gear”; Dan’s ridiculous coke-bottle glasses for Frederick the Philatelist combined with his perfect physical comedy; Kiersten dragging a chair across the stage as slowly as possible while wearing a shower cap.
Or a year later with Dan Lasby and Kyle’s new musical Red Rock, with the comedic combat between Pete and Andrew as the two thugs; Sabrina precisely cutting an apple with a knife as Natasha; or the perfect Marvel-esque ending post-curtain call of Zac as Volkov, sitting centre stage in a little tiny boat, holding a pet guinea pig.
All of those little things that so perfectly capture the tone and joy and ridiculousness of those pieces were all developed and created in the rehearsal room, not by me as one of the directors, but by all of us wondering and exploring together. That’s magic.
The magic takes on a new level when a piece is presented publicly, and the collaboration opens up to include an audience, as well. I remember being in university and seeing Blue Man Group in Chicago. I saw a matinee and though it may have been just another performance in an eight or ten show week for the performers, it was truly transformative for me. If you aren’t familiar with the piece, it’s performance art, and theatre, and improv, and music, all combined and hosted by, well, Blue Men. But that afternoon, as the show reached its tremendous, triumphant, and messy conclusion, I looked around the audience of the theatre and remember thinking “this was unique. This can’t happen again. How can they do this again tonight? This was something special.” We, as an audience, collaborated with those Blue Men and their jello and marshmallows and PVC pipe instruments, to create a unique moment. A moment that has stuck with me for almost twenty years.
I did a lot of improv growing up, and Amy Poehler is certainly a hero of mine. For me, her quote above is about collaboration. That if you are lucky enough (and I so hope we all are) to find a group of people who are inspiring, who challenge you and push you and explore and discover with you, and you commit time and creativity and imagination and joy to them, it will change not only the art you make, but the artist you are, the person you are, and your life as a whole.
I’m so grateful that all of the collaborators I’ve been working with this summer at Kitchen Party have been exactly those kinds of people. Come see what we’ve cooked up, with all of these amazing ingredients, all working together.
TIMOTHY MATSON (he/him)
Girls From Away Lyricist/Composer, Girls From Away Co-Director
Timothy Matson is thrilled to be spending the summer in Grand Falls-Windsor with Kitchen Party Theatre Festival. Some recent directing credits include Be More Chill, Fun Home, Impresario (premiere), next to normal (Best Kind Productions), Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, All Shook Up (Rennie’s Fall Musical), Almost Maine, Happy Days – the Musical, (Mount Pearl Senior High), Promnado (premiere), Pippin, She Loves Me, The Diviners (Acting Manitou Theatre Camp). He is a dedicated teaching artist and educator and has worked with Achieva Educational Services, Ghostlight Theater Camp, and he is the Drama teacher at Mount Pearl Senior High School. He is also Co-Artistic Director of Best Kind Productions. Recent writing credits include Second Shot – the Curling Musical (with Kiersten Noel – premier coming soon!), Isobel Gunn – a New Musical (with Kyle McDavid), The Stars Are Always Brighter When the Lights Go Out, and a new adaptation of Pirates and Penzance. Grateful to be a part of this magical story and season!