Civilians’ R&D In Process: AGAINST WOMEN & MUSIC!

In our R&D In Process Series, members of our 2019-20 R&D Group take us behind-the-scenes of their projects in development. Today, Kate Douglas and Grace McLean let us in on a work session for their new musical "Against Women & Music!" It will receive a work-in-progress showing on June 29 at 3pm.

Kate Douglas and Grace McLean’s Against Women & Music! is an exquisitely fun and twisted anachronistic chamber musical that explores the 19th Century perception that music was dangerous for women to play – or even hear. Through an aesthetic of dry politeness and absurdity, and with a wholly unique sound, the deeply researched Against Women & Music! delves into the entanglement of morality and order with women’s bodily autonomy.

In this post, Kate and Grace pull back the curtain on the process of creating a new musical. Above, you can watch the video of a work session in which they edited “Unflinching,” a key song in their show. Below, you can find Kate and Grace’s thoughts on the writing process and handwritten edits on “Unflinching.”

—The Civilians


The form and tone of our musical Against Women & Music! has straddled not only our natural inclination towards the absurd but also a rich amount of medical texts on women’s bodies. It has been very fruitful (and often disturbing) to have so much dramaturgy to look to outside ourselves when we feel lost in the process.

We tend to write drafts based off an outline, test it out in a reading with performers and then go back and reimagine much of the story to more clearly support what is most important to us in this musical. As we get closer, these reimaginings are getting finer and finer.

This session is a very focused discussion of a seminal musical moment in the show sung by the lady of the house. These lyrics were generated in a spacious understanding of what the moment represented emotionally for this character, and after a reading, we were ready to pare it down in a way that moved the momentum of the scene forward.

Against Women and Music! will have a work-in-progress showing on June 29th at 3pm. RSVP here.

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