Last week I had a meeting here in Southern California with Chicago-based composer Trevor Watkin, my long-time best friend and infrequent collaborator. I can say with all immodesty that this may be the best show in Chicago this year. Well – maybe, maybe not. But after my meeting with Trevor, I’m as optimistic as I’ve ever been about something I wrote.
What Is “Autumnopolis” Anyway?
It’s a song cycle for the stage — I had a bunch of poems and Trevor is composing music for them to be sung by real people. Real actors, no less. They’ve been arranged in such a way that all these seemingly unrelated poems are now in a sequence that tells a story.
I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but this effort came from Trevor’s head one day. Oddly enough, at that time, he was living in Southern California and I was living in Chicago. Now it’s the opposite. But at the time, it wasn’t fully realized, he just called me up and said he wanted to take some poems of mine and put them to music.
There’s a precedent for that — in college, Trevor wrote music for two poems I had written back in high school and they were part of his final thesis concert at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. They were a smash hit.
So over time, as I composed more poetry, we eventually decided on a pool to choose from and worked to narrow down the final choices into a production of manageable length (not too long!). That became the arrangement today, and the actual story came last.
What’s the Story About?
Without giving away too much at this juncture, I can say this much: it’s dark. It’s a snapshot of an unhealthy mind. I didn’t plan it that way – that’s Trevor’s influence.
There are three independent-yet-intersecting stories. There’s ambition vs. safety, there’s ambition vs. love, there’s love vs. heartache and disappointment, there’s fear of the unknown vs. a burning desire to reach out to our fellow humans.
Here’s the thing about this production. Trevor has elevated it into something amazing. I was not that impressed with my own work until Trevor shed some light on it, and his direction is truly astounding. And he’s a Jeff Award winner, so there’s no doubt the music he composes will be simply gorgeous.
But it’s not playing until September.
Between then and now, there’ll be new updates – your best bet to stay informed is by signing up for the newsletter – and at some point the opportunity to order a CD of the music will come around, so stick with us this year!