The Surprise of the Nightingale

The creative process is unpredictable. Case in point, check out these drawings:


"What am I looking at?" you ask. These are character sketches I created for my upcoming musical The Song of the Nightingale from about 20 years ago. Of course, back then I wanted to be a Disney animator, which is why I drew the characters out. Do you see how I even created a Nightingale logo (check out the upper left hand corner)? Ever the brand marketer I was.

Starting from the top right corner, you see the earliest iterations of the characters now known as Madam Wu, Xiao Hai, The Emperor (who uncannily looks like the Sultan from Disney's Aladdin; that film must have been fresh on my mind), Mei Lin, The Nightingale, The Fake Nightingale and Lord Liu Bing Wen.

This drawing had been tucked away in an old sketch book until recent years. And there was a good stretch of time when I thought it was all just meant to be a relic of a child's imagination. In fact, I used to consider making a living in the arts to be wishful thinking (would you believe I once thought of going to business school because I had no idea what else to do with my life?). Thank God I snapped out of it. Thank God I actually decided to take that first acting class after college. And I auditioned for that first show. And I volunteered to vocal direct for that first community production.

All this to say, the creative process for The Song of the Nightingale has been a circuitous one. It has been as much about how I have arrived here as it has been about how did I write this. Just as the Emperor in the fairy tale is surprised by the effect of the Nightingale's song, I find myself repeatedly surprised that this show is actually being realized. But I think the me from twenty years ago is sticking out his tongue at me and saying "I told you so."

Posted on September 23, 2013 and filed under Career, Creative.