Story vs song: juggling the needs of different narrative forms

The narrative needs of theatre and songwriting can differ significantly, so how do you go about fusing them together in the one production?

Working across artforms is not without its challenges: the narrative needs and structures of a stage play can be quite different from the narrative needs of a song. Consequently, when fusing the two forms, artistic challenges can easily arise.

Based on Thornton Wilder’s 1927 Pulitzer-winning novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Brink Production’s latest work – adapted by Phillip Kavanagh, directed by Brink’s Artistic Director Chris Drummond and starring Paul Capsis – avoided this challenge by ensuring the play’s songs and score were deeply embedded into every step of the creative process.

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Richard Watts OAM is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, a Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend, and was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize in 2020. In 2021 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Green Room Awards Association. Most recently, Richard received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in June 2024. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts