Tuesday night a UC Irvine workshop reading of the controversial new musical in development, MANSON'S GIRLS stirred up some controversy, and ABC's nightly news reported on it. A result of an ongoing partnership between the Academy for New Musical Theatre (ANMT) and UC Irvine Drama that develops and workshops new musicals to preserve musical theatre as an artistic platform, MANSON'S GIRLS attempts to explore the pathology leading up to the Manson killings of 1969 and offer a cautionary tale for the audience. The musical is being presented in concert version on August 6 and 7 at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., in North Hollywood. Check out ABC's report in the video below!
The musical's bookwriter, Scott Guy, has been asked why he chose this particular subject matter.
"Although the events of the Manson Family took place nearly fifty years ago, I find them incredibly relevant: so many of us, like Manson's girls, just want a family, a place to be accepted, a home where you're nurtured and taken care of. But I see more and more people today doing just what those girls did, namely, not thinking for themselves, but instead allowing others to their thinking for them. Pick your metaphor here: cults, sure, but religion, radical politics, or even a dominant family member or business colleague: it's scary how many people give their minds over to someone else; and I'm hoping the lessons of 'Manson's Girls' will help some of us reexamine our own thoughts and beliefs, and not just blindingly following someone."
Professor Daniel Gary Busby, music director of the production, agrees. "Unfortunately, the kind of group seduction that took place with the Manson family is not a unique situation and exploring it hopefully invites us to look within ourselves and make sure we are not part of something like this, even on a different level."
"All of us at ANMT, UC Irvine Drama, the writers, the director and the actors all have the greatest respect for the victims and their families and there is no intent to glorify Manson, the Family or these killings in any way," said director, Stephanie Coltrin. "We're trying to be sympathetic, and explore what made these girls do what they did. We're neither condoning nor vilifying them; we're trying to understand them."
The workshop reading of MANSON'S GIRLS will take place on Monday and Tuesday August 6 and 7, at the NoHo Arts Center. Visit www.anmt.org/events.asp to make a reservation.
The Academy for New Musical Theatre produces, creates and studies new musicals. We're an academy for musicals like the Academy for Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences is for movies: a community of professional writers, composers, producers and actors writing musicals for tomorrow's audiences. ANMT is also an academy like higher-education universities, offering one of only three professional programs in the U.S. for writers, composers and actors studying how to write musicals. In the past five years, ANMT has developed over 100 musicals, many of which have gone on to productions, festivals, showcases and beyond. This year alone they are developing several dozen musicals, with plans for an equally busy season next year.
Four years ago, Scott Guy (ANMT) and Professor Daniel Gary Busby (UCIrvine Drama) created a partnership dedicated to creating new musicals, as a way to connect talented student actors and professional writers and composers in a mutually beneficial laboratory for developing musicals. MANSON'S GIRLS is only one of a great number of projects being worked on. Both groups and the people they work with are dedicated to the preservation of this unique American art form by creating new work to help ensure its growth and survival.
Drama at UCI is one of the four departments comprising the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, which provides students with extensive opportunities to work in collaboration with students and faculty in the School's closely-related programs - Dance, Music and Studio Art. Within the school, therefore, cross-disciplinary creative opportunities - such as video art, multi-media performance, opera, dance theatre and performance art - continually flourish. Nor are interdisciplinary connections limited to within our School – Drama enjoys fruitful relations with a great many departments and programs across the campus, including English, History, Comparative Literature, Political Science, Computer Science, Asian American Studies, African American Studies, East Asian Languages and Literatures, Critical Theory, Spanish and Portuguese, German and Russian, and French and Italian. And Drama's PhD studies are conducted as part of a comprehensive joint program – the first such in the nation - with our sister campus, UC San Diego.