Poetry and Songwriting summoned me to Musical Theatre
Tracey Dene Powell
Apr 29, 2022
Writing poetry is like a sculpturer faced with a solid block of marble, the beauty can only be exposed by the careful chipping away of one’s thoughts in order to reveal the right words to express those feelings. It's a journey I make to the centre of my heart, listening intently to the whispers of my soul. This isn't saying that my poems are necessarily outstanding, I am sure many could scoff, but they are raw, authentic and genuine, they rise from a rare openness to share what is within.
My guitar calls out and the lyrics happily join forces
Writing songs, however, I find completely different. There is no journey of discovery, the words find me, and I have very little control. It's as if my guitar calls out and the lyrics happily join forces to create the power of music. This may explain my difficulty in remembering my own lyrics. I feel this more a gift, as my songs belong more to the universe than me and I am not alone in thinking this either. I know of several exceptional world-renowned songwriters, who too describe their best songs as the ones that just flow to them or spill out from the air to be caught.
To this day, I continue to write both poems and songs. I experience the joy of entering two completely different worlds.
And that’s how ‘Phantom Love’ the musical was born
Creating my musical brought a very different challenge and it did spur doubts. Could I possibly adapt my skills to write a script? Could I be unbiased and bring truth to different characters? Not only that, could I go one step further and add music as another dimension of expression? Above all, could I use the power of writing songs to connect and transport the audience into the drama even further beyond words?
My original musical had been set in 3 different time zones: WW1 trenches; 1960's and present day. A professional writer friend, William Ivory, thankfully guided me towards a rethink. He was right...I had in-fact written 3 separate musicals and the complications that could arise amalgamating them into one would be insane.
And that’s how 'Phantom Love the musical' was born. Being entirely based in the trenches of WW1, I knew I could handle the music, as it would all be acoustic. Thankfully, the words found me again.
To meet with him face to face changed everything
Each song was crafted for each character, my lyrics of 'who draws the line' echoed the forceful frustration of soldiers, whilst the gentle sentiments of 'soon enough' reflected homesick emotions. Writing a hymn caught my imagination, I found the concept of both the British and Germans praying to the same God intriguing to say the least. These lyrics were translated and on stage both armies stopped fighting to sing the same hymn on Good Friday.
In hindsight, the timing of writing a WW1 musical helped with convincing Curve Theatre to give me permission, as the whole country was full of remembrance that year. I first performed my musical in my local village hall with a talented cast and a male voice choir. I then invited the local press alongside Theatre Directors (including the Director of Curve theatre) to come along and watch the performance. The Director of Curve unfortunately couldn’t attend, but what did transpire was an opportunity to meet with him face to face and it changed everything. Because it gave me the opportunity to showcase my passion!
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Tracey Dene Powell is a Poet, Songwriter & produced Musical Playwright. Check Tracey out through her social media below.