Workshops, Masterclasses & Seminars

At MMD we believe in providing long- term development support for our writers. As such, we currently offer a range of development opportunities from seminars and workshops, to masterclasses and industry placements, all designed to address issues related to the craft of writing musical theatre, increase knowledge of the form as a whole, and convey a professional understanding of the business of working in musical theatre. To find out more, click on a title below.

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Through the Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer scheme emerging musical theatre composers are paired with a venue, and given the opportunity to be involved in a range of work which could include underscoring plays, setting text to music or creating their own piece of new work. This opportunity gives valuable experience of working within a venue environment, building working relationships with a range of venues based professionals. Previous venues have included Royal & Derngate, Northampton; Finborough Theatre, London; Soho Theatre, London; Bristol Old Vic; the Watermill, Newbury; Mercury Theatre, Colchester; New Wolsey Ipswich and West Yorkshire Playhouse where Harry Blake is currently Resident Composer. Applications for the next placement at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Spring 2017 have just closed but there will be two more placements later next year.

“Through the Resident Composer Scheme I have worked on an amazing variety of types of shows and platforms.  Meeting and working with lots of different directors and creatives has been incredibly valuable and I hope has been the start of collaborations that will carry on into the future” (Rebecca Applin, current Resident Composer at Mercury Theatre, Colchester and New Wolsey, Ipswich)

“I owe a huge amount to the Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer Scheme. It pretty much kept me in the business”. Dougal Irvine (Resident Composer at Royal and Derngate, Northampton)

The successful recipient receives an all-inclusive fee of £11,000.

For more information please contact Martin Jackson on martin@mercurymusicals.com or call on 020 7395 5461

This scheme is generously funded by the Cameron Mackintosh Foundation and managed by Musical Theatre Network (MTN) and Mercury Musical Developments (MMD).

The Lionel Bart Memorial Masterclass Series:

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Supported by the Lionel Bart Foundation, the Lionel Bart Memorial Masterclass Series provides an opportunity for MMD members to present a piece of work-in-progress and receive individual constructive feedback from industry practitioners in front of a friendly and supportive audience of other members. The critique session is followed by a Q&A with the practitioners about their own career and working processes.

Past guest practitioners have included Steve Brown, John Bucchino, Elliot Davis, Nikolai Foster, Caroline Humphris, Catherine Jayes, Grant Olding, Richard Thomas, Sarah Travis, Lotte Wakeham, Nick Winston and Jeremy Sams.

Nuts & Bolts Workshops:

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The Nuts & Bolts Workshops series explores issues pertinent to the craft of bookwriting, composing and lyric writing. Visiting industry practitioners analyse and share their craft process either in a seminar or workshop format. We will soon be introducing peer-to-peer skill share sessions, where members of MMD can share their knowledge of the craft with one another.

Members can access audio recording of most past events in our Audio Archives in the backstage area of the MMD website.

 

BOOK Music & Lyrics:

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BOOK Music & Lyrics is a programme of on-going workshops for the creation, crafting and on-going development of musical theatre writing and related specialist skills, facilitated by David James.

The workshop has three objectives:

  • Develop and foster craft skills specific to musical theatre for emerging practitioners

  • Generate a broader, more involved collaborative community of and for those practitioners

  • Be led by a professional (rather than an academic) ethos

The individual workshops offer weekly forums for practitioners to use and expand their skills. They are not ‘how to’ sessions but rather laboratories where all participants can feel safe to test and re-test work. They currently run for 32 weeks per year, split between Spring and Autumn terms.

BOOK Music & Lyrics currently consists of five separate but inter-related workshops:

FIRST YEAR COMPOSER/LYRICIST WORKSHOP

A workshop to develop and nurture craft in the writing of songs for musical theatre. Practitioners explore what individual songs must accomplish dramatically in the story-telling of the show, and the practical and technical needs of performers in doing this. The first year consists of assignments to write various types of theatre songs, all of which are presented in the workshop. Facilitators and the group members give and receive constructive feedback in the sessions to inform rewrites and further development. Practitioners work with different collaborators on each assignment. The year’s work culminates in the writing of 10-minute musicals in collaboration with members of the librettist workshop.  Practitioners complete the year with a broader set of techniques and skills with which to approach future projects. It is possible to apply as a composer or a lyricist or both.

SECOND YEAR COMPOSER/LYRICIST WORKSHOP

Members of the former first year group, having paired themselves into teams (or working alone, at the discretion of the facilitators) return to spend the year working on a single project of their choice. The focus is on the challenges of building an entire score. Practitioners must balance the dramatic needs of the show whist shaping the score with different song types that meet the needs of different characters. They must develop a musical voice that is at once uniquely their own but also serves the individual project. Practitioners will have to identify specific problems as they arise and find creative answers for them. At the end of the year each team is expected to present a section of their piece in a showcase, arranged by the workshop. The focus is on skill development and creating a professionally useful folio of songs rather than the creation of entire produceable projects.

ADVANCED COMPOSER/LYRICIST WORKSHOP

This workshop combines members who have participated in the first and second year workshops. The focus is on the members’ current projects and continued artistic development. Participation in the Advanced Workshop is by invitation only.

LIBRETTIST WORKSHOP

This workshop is made up of both new and more experienced members. New participants in their first term begin by focusing on the building blocks for strong story development and the dissection of ‘classic’ musical books, followed by assignments to practice basic tenets of craft. From there, members are encouraged to initiate and develop their own projects, always beginning with a one-page pitch. Is this a good, strong idea? Has an audience (no matter how small or big) been considered? Then, the project is developed through treatment, outline, and on to a full script. All participants also work during the course of the year on two projects with the first year composers and lyricists fostering interaction and collaboration between the groups.

CHOREOGRAPHY WORKSHOP FOR MUSICAL THEATRE

Six chosen choreographers work with the students at The Musical Theatre Academy (The MTA), to develop their choreographic, dramatic story-telling skills and craft specifically for musical theatre in a safe environment of constructive feedback. For each five or six week module, participants meet weekly working in teams of two (each team working on the same material concurrently in separate studios). With the facilitator, participants show and discuss what they have done each week, to compare and contrast the developmental work including research, the story-telling, and the building of a complete dance sequence that integrates into the show as a whole.  The first two modules were sequences from Man of La Mancha and ‘Side by Side’ from Company. There are three or four modules per year. Moving forward, we aim to foster collaborative ties with the other workshops as well for new projects.

UPCOMING

BOOK Music & Lyrics’ has a further workshop programme in the planning stages. With this addition BML’s long-term agenda will be complete.

DIRECTING WORKSHOP FOR MUSICAL THEATRE

Traditionally, directors are the lynchpins of musical collaborative teams; but they, too, need the opportunity to develop their specific craft skills. How are book scenes and musical scenes staged and integrated into a strong whole? How are directors to lead collaborative teams to a single dramatic vision effectively? This workshop is currently in the early planning stages.

Founded in 2010 and, in 2011, BOOK Music & Lyrics won a ‘New Writing Encouragement’ award from the theatre committee of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

Further details of the BML programme can be found here: http://www.bookmusicandlyrics.com/.

Writing Labs:

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  • Advanced Lab. Facilitated by Christine Denniston since 2008, this is an invite only development ‘laboratory’ for Professional Writer Associates.  Writers meet once a month to share and critique their work in a safe and supportive environment. New members are added on an annual basis. For more information, contact Sarah Crook at sarah@mercurymusicals.com .

Current Advanced Lab Members are: Rebecca ApplinChris Ash, Matt Board, Andrew BrindedMichael ConleyTim ConnorSteve EdisMarc FolanTeresa HowardAlex LovelessJames LovelockCarl MillerSue Pearse, Victoria Saxton, Darren Clark, Rhys Jennings

  • Open Lab. Throughout the year we will offer any of our Professional Writer Associate members the chance to share their work and receive critique from their peers in an open lab session. Details to follow.

Please go to our events calendar to see what other seminars, masterclasses and workshops are coming up.

A Reading and Advice service is available to members and non-members where a professional practitioner reads a piece of work and provides specific feedback or more general advice. To find out more please contact Sarah@mercurymusicals.com

We are constantly evolving our offerings to meet the changing needs of our membership so please get in touch and let us know how we can help you. Likewise, do tell us if there are any topics you’d like to see covered in our developmental programmes.