Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Silly Wants: An Interview with Shoshana Greenberg

Shoshana Greenberg is a graduate of the NYU Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program and a talented writer/lyricist/bookwriter. In addition to her own writing endeavors, she is also a fellow Thursday blogger for RSO's Crazytown blog, where she curates pieces for the weekly Rough and Ready, a regular feature that debuts a fresh new musical theatre piece created within the last 2 weeks. Shoshana took some time to answer questions about her experiences organizing Rough and Ready, the inspiration for her own work, and putting her projects out there.

("Purple House" with music by Julia Meinwald, lyrics by Kirsten Guenther and Shoshana Greenberg, sung by Manoel Felciano and Lauren Worsham)

How did the idea for Rough and Ready come about?

Shoshana Greenberg: Ryan Scott Oliver, the visionary behind Crazytown, emailed me at the end of December and said he was expanding his blog and would I be interested in doing a weekly post featuring new work written in the last two weeks. Ryan and I were in the same class at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program, so he knew of my love for new work and writers. The idea of sharing the exciting work coming out of the musical theater writing community on the Blog was very intriguing. I immediately said yes.

Me: What is the process of curating these songs every week?

Shoshana: Sometimes people will submit work and sometimes I solicit people. It depends on what I have ready to go and what might be good for that week. I’m looking to partner with more places as I did with Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA) last month and also to feature work that corresponds more with what’s going on in the theater community at the moment. For example, people who have just had a production announced or a concert or have one coming up.

Me: Have you found anything surprising about being able to feature work that is still relatively new to the world? Do you have any particular favorite featured songs since you started doing the column?

Shoshana: I think what I’ve found surprising, in a good way, is how willing people are to put themselves and their work out there. Everyone is so brave about it, especially with work that is so new. I guess we’re now living in an era with YouTube and our own websites where it’s not a big deal to put new work up all the time, but I’m still surprised and inspired by people’s courage to just put their work out there, to say, “I like my work. It’s good. Check it out.”

It’s really hard to pick a favorite song. I’ve really loved everything I’ve featured. Alex Beech and Karl Michael Johnson’s “Great New England Pumpkin Shoot” was cool because I read that lyric and was very taken with it, but when I heard the recording later, the music just made the lyric sing so beautifully. The songs from Gaby Alter and Itamar Moses’s show Nobody Loves You have been fun to feature as well -- I’m really excited that that piece is getting a production.

Me: You are also a writer/lyricist/bookwriter yourself! What projects are you currently working on, and will any of your work be featured on Rough and Ready in the future?

Shoshana: I just finished the first draft of my first play! I’d written musicals and wanted to expand into playwriting and I finally found the means and courage to do so by taking playwriting classes at Primary Stages ESPA. I’m going to rewrite that first draft in another ESPA class this summer. In the musical theater realm, I am getting ready to rewrite one of my thesis musicals from NYU with my collaborators. We are planning to do a reading at Primary Stages in the fall. Other than that, I have some musical projects in the very early stages with a couple collaborators. I hope something of mine can be featured on Rough and Ready soon!

("Dark Night" with lyrics by Shoshana Greenberg and Rachel Jett, music by Moonhee Park, sung by Kenita Miller)

Me: Do you have any particular influences/role models that motivate to get your work out into the world?

Shoshana: I’m constantly influenced and inspired by the alums of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program. They somehow manage to get work out into the world while staying true to themselves as writers and continue to redefine what it means to be a successful musical theater writer. I’m so proud to be a part of that community.

Another role model is Tina Fey not only because of her talent but because she works really hard. Reading about her work ethic and how that led to her success motivates me to overcome any laziness I may have and produce work.

("Silly Wants" with lyrics by Shoshana Greenberg, music by Jeffrey Dennis Smith, sung by Amy Linden)

Me: I’ve also seen that you have a lot of marketing experience in your professional life. Being a writer and having that job experience, do you have any advice for aspiring writers on how to best market themselves/their work?

Shoshana: The most important thing is to be out there. Go to as many theater events, cabarets, and shows as you can. Meet people. It’s also important to have a social media presence. I have met so many theater people through Twitter, and Facebook allows you to stay connected to people you might otherwise lose track of. Get your songs into small concerts. Do a cabaret or two, if possible. Keep submitting work.

Other than that, just believe in your work and own your identity as a writer. For some people, this is easy, but for others, like myself, this is a process and takes practice. But you won’t be a writer unless you are able to tell the world that you are a writer.

Me: Any plugs for any upcoming projects/shows?

Shoshana: There’s so much happening! Go see Michael R. Jackson’s show at the Beechman on June 27, 9:30pm. He was featured on Rough and Ready a few months ago, and his work is great.

A project I’m currently working on with two NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing alums is a new company called the Blue Room Arts Collective. We put together writer-driven concerts based on a theme. Writers from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing alumni community submit songs either written for the show or written previously but fit the theme. Last fall we did the concert Brooklyn’s Got Character[s] for which each writer or writing team had to interview a Brooklyn resident and write a song about that person. We’re currently putting together our next concert, called Party Time, which explores the “party song” and its varied uses and meanings. We already have a lot of our song submissions, and I think it’s going to be a really fun show.

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