Day 20 Blood [By The Mummers]
By The Mummers: One Big BLOODy Family
It has been my experience that, traditionally, a large group of very different people is terrible at getting anything done. This person has one thought, and this person has another, and these three people haven't even been paying attention-it gets to be a pretty messy situation. Yet, remarkably, this is how theatre lives and thrives; a mob of actors, crew, writers, directors, and producers manage to calm their own crazy for a moment in order to create something extraordinary. The best example I have seen yet is with the development of BLOOD [By The Mummers], a piece of musical theatre that was collectively written by almost a dozen actors-all done without any grisly murders occurring (off the page, at least).
BLOOD, in theory, should never have existed. Birthed in the food court of Macy's at Herald Square, it was meant to be a one-time Halloween show. With a story conceived by a few Mummers, it looked like it was the beginning of any other piece of theatre; however, what happened next is what makes it so incredible. Sitting together, whether in a food court or someone's living room, over nine people wrote the show, with a handful composing two songs. It had jokes, it had an interactive prom, it had a storyline filled with goofy superstitions and curses and a part for everyone. Every actor would have their moment, their chance to shine in the spotlight. No one ever felt shafted by another's monologue, or this person's great punch line. It was an ensemble piece in every sense of the word.
When it came time to bring BLOOD back to life in the fall of 2010, a handful of new members had been added to [By The Mummers], which meant even more voices to throw in the rewriting mix. Two members of the group had been furiously composing music, which meant something new: BLOOD couldn't exist in the form it had originally. It was time to write the show all over again, with more people and new ideas, and still without attacking each other form the insanity of it all. Once again, however, it worked-and beautifully so. In one of the many apartments in which rehearsals would take place, an idea for a scene would be thrown out, then improv'd, then written properly, with all members suggesting lines, twists, and more. By the end of a few weeks, a script had somehow, magically developed. Reading through it, it was a perfect blend of a dozen voices, with individual moments that said, "Look at what this person wrote!" [By The Mummers] wrote a script that reflected their own unique structure.
Since its original inception, BLOOD has been rewritten, unwritten, thrown to the floor and stepped on, picked up, and dusted off, and still always by the collaborative ensemble of [By The Mummers]. They all share the work, the jokes, the monologues. They've all brought in props, picked out costumes, promoted and marketed. And most remarkable, they've done the whole thing while remaining friends. A line may be cut, a song may be changed, but everyone knows it's for the good of the show and the good of the group. Is there tension occasionally? Of course, no show is created without it-but, at the end of the night, there are hugs goodbye and plans for coffee dates. It is almost nauseating in its sweetness, but it works. [By The Mummers] has become more than just a theatre ensemble, it's become a family. A strange, quirky family that writes about Macbeth and vampires and high school drama and uses copious amounts of fake blood to do it-but, truly, a wonderful family nonetheless.
To learn more or to buy your tickets to Blood [By The Mummers] go to www. nymf.org/bloodbythemummers or call 212-352-3101