By Fred Elieh
Through the years Mesopotamian Night has had the privilege to bring to life tales written by great writers in the form of a musical. Such examples are Malek Rama by Hannibal Alkhas, William Daniel’s Taliboota, The Tragedy of Badri by John Alkhas, David Elian’s Maam Shalou , and last but not least, Majnavta by Edison Ebrahimi.
One of the most challenging tasks for our committee each year is deciding on a topic for our musicals. This process not only takes months of research, but it also requires us to take a selected work and often enhance it, all the while keeping the integrity of what the original writer envisioned. We call this conception.
The development process follows and often takes months to complete. This involves adapting the selected topic and making it suitable for a performance. Factors in this process include duration, characters, mood, and message. This challenging process requires an immense amount of collaboration between the writer, composer, and artistic director.
It is only then that the writing meets the music. This process too is a very delicate balance. Often a written work loses part of its meaning when it is sung or set to music. The composer must adhere to the original feel of the written work from a musical approach. It is critical that there is unison in the delivery of the story’s message to our audience from both perspectives. Our team of composers each have unique approaches as to how to achieve this. Depending on the work, some are set completely to music and sung, while others incorporate narration, and yet others are a mix of the two.
Last, the musical is born and begins to take shape. We inject the other vital components such as stage design, backup drop, and costumes. It takes hundreds of hours over the course of just a few months for the musical to grow and be considered suitable for an audience performance. All this work is for a one night performance which elevates the stress level for the entire cast of volunteers.
It is imperative for us as an organization and as Assyrians to continue promoting our performing arts and especially stage performances such as musicals and plays. These performances not only show our devotion for the arts, but also our admiration for our previous and current writers.
In researching the different options for next year’s event, our team also came up with an option to give an opportunity to any aspiring writers that want to see their work come to life. While we are very fond of the works of our more experienced writers, we also need to encourage and give the younger generation writers opportunities to grow or we will forever be retelling the same tales. Our hope is that this opportunity brings unique and even modern tales to life.
Mesopotamian Night Artistic Director