SPACE intern Catherine Cohen sits down with composer/lyricist Sharon Kenny and director Laura Savia to discuss their new project, FLASH.
CC: Hi. So, who are you and what project are you working on here at SPACE on Ryder Farm?
Enter Laura Savia
CC: Hello! Who are you and what are you working on here?
LAURA: I’m Sharon Kenny’s biggest fan. I’m Laura Savia and I’m working on FLASH, a new musical by Sharon Kenny and I’ve also been watching videos of her.
LS: I’m watching videos of her work appearing on “Dance Moms”.
CC: Oh “Dance Moms!” Can you explain what that is?
LS: “Dance Moms” is a phenomenal television program. It follows the lives of young dancers (8,9,10 years old) and their moms—hence the name. Sharon’s music has been featured on it four times and now there is a whole movement in the viewing community to cover her songs and to do improv dances to them on YouTube.
CC: Inspiring young ladies everywhere.
LS: Inspiring stuff.
CC: That’s Shannon
LS: Yeah. That is how she rolls
CC: Do you want to tell us a little bit about working on FLASH?
LS: We were able to do a complete overhaul of the project here, which was really necessary. We wouldn’t have been able to do it had we been meeting sporadically in the city, that’s for sure. It was a really gutsy move actually to take over 70% of the material and throw it out and start over. So that was exciting. Sharon is really fearless. She is really fearless!
CC: It sounded great yesterday
LS: Thank you! Ok you can give this interview back to Sharon.
CC: All right. Hi again! So, who are you and what project are you working on at SPACE?
SK: Well, I’m Sharon Kenny and my project is called FLASH and it’s a continuous music theatrical extravaganza that centers around a girl who has kind of lost sight of her identity as an artist and is trying to get that back.
CC: Where are you in the process of working on this?
SK: I came in with one draft and so this was my second pass at it but we did a pretty big shift so all that’s been kept from the very first draft is the very beginning and the very end of the piece and then the meat of it—we threw the whole thing out. So I think it was about 10 or 11 songs that we just cut and then my time here at SPACE I got through about the first six of that section so now I’m at about the halfway point but still at a very early draft.
CC: Do you feel like a lot of this piece has been inspired by your own life and the lives of your friends?
SK: I do. Well I think that the first draft was very much about me and sort of semi autobiographical and it was good to have that past to kind of just get my personal things out on the page. And now in building this with Laura, we are trying to make it theatrical so that it’s interesting to…not just me and my mom.
CC: So how have you spent your time at SPACE?
SK: The first night I was here Laura and I did a lot of outlining and kind of rebuilding and it was actually cool because I spent the summer at Williamstown with Laura working on a completely different project that could not be more different than this. Because this one is kind of like quirky, funny, weird and the one at Williamstown is very dark and based on truth and yeah. So, I had done the first draft of FLASH in March so it was kind of cool to completely forget about it and step away and we both looked at it with completely fresh eyes on Monday and then Tuesday and Wednesday I just spent just writing all day and night and we started with the actors on Thursday and we shared yesterday.
CC: What’s next for this project after SPACE?
SK: I have no idea… I have to finish it first. People have been asking me that and I’m like “I don’t know!” I mean I would love to do a presentation of some sort at some point but I think the big thing for me is that we’re still kind of figuring out what it is. Someone asked me last night, “Is it a song cycle or a rock opera?” and I don’t think its either and so Polly had coined the term “popra” because its not a song cycle because its not really a collection of songs because there is a narrative through, but there are no book scenes so its kind of like its own entity. I surely have not invented this form. I’m sure there are things like it, but now we don’t know what to call it.
CC: Popra! Lets use that term for now. So, if you were to come back in another life to the farm as an animal or a vegetable, which animal or vegetable would you be?
SK: Oh man. Let me think about this. Um…do you have an answer for this? Jeez….
CC: Pressure is on
SK: Oh lord I guess I would be… I was gonna go with a vegetable but we saw an owl on one of our hikes that was really beautiful and… um yeah I guess an owl. I don’t even know why, I mean obviously he was very good looking so clearly we have that in common. And he had very big eyes and was kind of like looking around like very curious and like not really afraid just like “I’m here” and I feel that way most of the time.
CC: Perfect! Ok well that’s it for the interview. Thank you so much!
SK: Thank you!