Source: Brannon Bowers
When Tania Azevedo and Finn Anderson were commissioned to write a musical centered around family in 2018, they wanted to explore a woman’s identity in relation to motherhood.
Directed by Azevedo and written by Anderson, “A Mother’s Song” was initially developed as part of the Northwestern University’s American Music Theatre Project’s partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The show made its world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the summer of 2018.
Now, Azevedo and Anderson are mounting a new, further developed version of “A Mother’s Song,” this time on Northwestern’s campus. After weeks of rehearsals, readings of the musical will be presented at the Mussetter-Struble Theater in the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts on March 14 and March 15.
“After the successful production [at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe], we saw a lot of potential in the piece and AMTP wanted to continue our international partnership,” producing director of the show Brannon Bowers said. “We found that there were a lot of things left unexplored and things we wanted to change about it to make it more viable for other performances and other productions.”
“A Mother’s Song” is centered around the stories of three different women at different points in history ー one in Scotland, one in Ireland and one in New York ー who belong to the same family tree. All three of the women struggle to adjust with becoming a mother, and their stories are linked through songs passed down by their family.
Anderson said the inspiration for “A Mother’s Song” came from musical traditions such as folk music and folk singing that originated in Scotland, developed in Ireland and made their way to America.
“The music is very much inspired by kind of traditional Celtic folk songs which traveled over to Appalachia,” Anderson said. “It’s inspired by traditional Appalachian music and bluegrass music but also very much embracing a sort of pop, like pop country style, in places too, so this feels very contemporary.”
The 2018 production ran for about an hour and featured a cast of 15, but the upcoming production will run 40 minutes longer with a completely new cast of six. The overall story remains the same, with alterations that provide added depth to the characters.
“I feel a lot clearer on who the characters are and what they want and what’s standing in their way,” Anderson said. “How the different stories play against each other feels a lot clearer than it used to be.”
Azevedo said she and Anderson are excited to be working with AMTP again because the project provides an incredible amount of support to the artists who work under it and because it is exciting to be “working with someone across the pond.”
She added that she had high expectations because of the sense of professionalism she has seen in students in the Northwestern theater department, which she has found both impressive and inspiring.
“In terms of expectation, I certainly have high expectations of what will happen over these two weeks, but I don’t think that they are underfunded,” Azevedo said. “They are coming from a place of knowing that the people we have in the cast are people that are equally as passionate about the project.”
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