Shows R

RUNAWAYS Musical Theatre Piece in Two Acts. Written, composed and directed by Liz Swados. Settings by Douglas W. Schmidt, Woods Mackintosh. Costumes by Hilary Rosenfeld. Sound by Bill Dreisbach. Lighting by Jennifer Tipton. Production supervisor, Jay David Cohen. Associate producer, Bernard Gersten. A New York Shakespeare Festival Production. Produced by Joseph Papp. First produced in New York Off-Broadway 9 March 1978 at the Public Theatre Cabaret/Martinson Hall for 62 performances. Opened 13 May 1978 at the Plymouth Theatre and closed 31 December 1978 after 199 performances. Total, including Off-Broadway run: 261 peformances. THE GATHERING OF RUNAWAYS By Elizabeth Swados "Runaways is a musical theatre piece which was in the works for a year. When I went to Joseph Papp in May of 1977, I had no script, no songs, no story line — just an idea, and an intuition about the potential of adolescents and how they have been grossly underestimated. I wanted to make a collage about the profound effects of our deteriorating families. I wanted to explore the substitutes people find to deal with the loss of family and how these substitutes are sometimes effective and sometimes self-destructive. I wanted to tap the energy of young people. I have seen them excel professionally in athletics, pop and classical music, and I knew there was a real possibility fo rthe same kind of dedication in the theatre — beyond "cutesiness," beyond cliché. Since that May until we opened on Broadway in May of 1978, I was subsidised by the New York Shakespeare Fesitval and did hundreds of interviews, auditions, workshops and rehearsals. I was uplifted by the imagination and spirit of some of the kids I met. I was also appalled at the potential apathy and resignation in these same individuals. In the four-month period of auditions, I saw over two thousand kids at schools, community centres and museums. I was looking for kids who were ornery, athletic, imaginative and, if not overtly political, somehow aware that the human race was in a mess. Contrary to some reports, the cast is not made up of twelve scraggly runaways whom I mercifully rescued from the streets. There are some runaways. But many of the kids are simply, or not so simply, from both broken and solid families. Also, there are three experienced actors who served as anchors and helped set a certain professional standard. In the five months of rehearsals and workshops, I wrote hours of songs, and the company did multitudes of improvisations. One of the most important things we all learned is that the imagination can take you out of your own spiritual ghetto. I didn't want to be romantic about the project or deal with psychological and social problems in soap opera terms. There was an energy, a courage, an honesty in the kids that would constantly challenge my more clichéd artistic notions. Their way of speaking, their rhythms, the look in their eyes; they influenced me. I couldn't have done it without them. A lot of what I wanted to write was in my head, but much of it came from workshops. I'd ask them questions and they would tell me stories. I would sit for hours thinking what would be exactly the right questions that would help me write. They could lie, or they could tell the truth. I'd watch them, feel the pressures on them, become concerned about them. Then I'd go off, and suddenly there would be a song — just from having been with them. I would combine my own artistic sensibilities with the truth of their emotions. The songs in this show are the folk music of a very special tribe called The Runaways. This is their music. There is no plot or story line in Runaways. It's a collage of speeches and songs for their rituals. The way I work