I am all about helping new writing because who doesn’t want something fresh? So when Marta Jorgensen contacted me about her show which she has written and is currently trying to raise funds for, I was very intrigued and excited to talk to her about her process and what she’s trying to do.
What got you into writing?
In my thirties, I was married to a songwriter who ran off with his songwriting partner. In the beginning the urge to write was spurred on by wanting to get even. But as time goes by, one realises that revenge is a dish best left in the ice box. I was ready to throw it out and just write. Screenplays, songs, a lot of political writing and opinion pieces.
I found it nice to be published until… well you know, then you get a rebuttal. I ran for political office in the US and wrote extensively for that. Sustainability, Straight Talk and Citizen Activism. Politics is like theatre and that inspired several songs about politics and media. From those songs came the play.
Has it always been a passion of yours?
No, but singing has been since watching tiny Michael Jackson onstage at a young age singing like an adult. I wanted to be on stage at six years old. I caught a fame bug.
Can you explain what Donny the musical is about?
Donny is done as a play within a play or a kind of Metatheatre. I use this literary device; it is Rhoda’s inner workings, her mind and her thoughts, her emotional state. Freud talks about the dream within a dream and Shakespeare used it with success. The play talks about itself and is aware of itself. In the story she brings her family into her imagination, they sing about it, she sings about how she wants to write an ending she can live with. Rhoda in her dialogue calls attention to the plot and how it is not going her way. Characters give advice to her about what others should do.
Rhoda Haynes, a quirky New York playwright has a grudge against Frenchy King and his lying King Media Empire. Rhoda and her family are suing King Media over fake stories written about them. She can’t do anything or say anything to jeopardise it. But, she wants to get even. Hubert, Rhoda’s husband tells her to write and get it off her chest. So Rhoda, sitting at her desk, starts banging away on an old fashioned typewriter. She starts a play called “Donny and the Sun King”. Here is the story as she creates it – inserting herself and her family members, husband Hubert Haynes, daughter Blaze Haynes, as themselves (Rhoda Haynes, a playwright, Blaze Haynes, Rhoda’s daughter, a famous singer and Hubert Haynes, a Congressman). Just like in real life, the character family debates with Rhoda about plot issues involving them. Rhoda wants an ending she can live with so she tries to write one.
What made you write this show?
From the 80’s to now media has evolved and taken over our lives to an extent that we have lost control of it. Standing at the checkout counter you see name after name splashed there about some affair or travesty they had, then later you read the paper got sued for writing a fake story. Now everyday it’s on the Internet. I started this play three years ago with just that in mind. Now it’s done and we have Mr. Trump in office and all anyone talks about is fake news. So I have tapped into the zeitgeist of the times. But to tell you the truth, I have a fascination with the tabloid world. I love headlines like I married Bigfoot; Aliens are Living in my Basement. Frenchy King sings about these kinds of stories.
The subject is extremely relevant, what made you choose it?
The subject chose itself. How can you not write about it? It is today’s reality. How else can you write about Perry’s Poorhouse, Rhoda’s concept of Hell, a combination of Don Giovanni and Married with children and get away with it. Tabloid media lends itself to fanciful worlds and situations.
You’re raising the money for a score through Hatchfund, can you tell us a little about that?
Yes, Hatchfund is an arts crowd funding organisation. You have to submit to get accepted. They give you an account manager who baby sits you through the crowd funding process. They have a 75% success rate. I am raising money to hire a studio in Santa Barbara CA, Hidden City Studios and its owner, Elliot Lanam, to help flesh out the play songs and other music.
It’s a long process and the biggest part of producing a musical of course. I need $4000 to $5000 to meet my goal by October 31, 2017. There are 19-20 songs with names like My Story, Ratings R Us, Donny’s Lament, Hope and Pride, Perry’s Poorhouse, Babel, Ball and Chain, What’s in a Word, Lower Slobovia. The music is a mix of styles, kids have their sound, the media upper class have their sound and the Rhoda and her family have a sound of their own. All pulled together by a thematic through line.
Did you model the characters on anyone you know?
Well yes, but I might not be able to divulge that. LOL. I don’t want to be sued. That would be too much like the story acting out itself.
But I have to say there is a lot of Rhoda Haynes in me. If you want to know what parts you will have to read the play and donate to the cause. Then I might reveal it.
If you could sum the show in 5 words what would they be?
Beware of writers with grudges.Hilarious, satirical and very entertaining.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Go to school and learn it right. Treat writing like a job but be yourself. Or if you are not yourself, after you write for awhile you will find yourself. Then maybe you might want to lose yourself.
Listen to the small still voice in your head at 5 AM saying get up I have a scene I want to work on. That’s the muse. Or it could be the TV. Most of my work comes while walking in nature. Writing is channeling the universe. A wise man once said that and I find it to be true.