NET/TEN Shareback: Lightning Rod Special & Alex Bechtel - Twisting the Familiar: How to Devise a Musical

2016-17 Exchange Grant Recipients

Lightning Rod Special (Philadelphia, PA) partnered with Barrymore-award-winning composer and music director Alex Bechtel (Philadelphia, PA) to create an ensemble-generated musical theater piece about the abortion debate in America. This partnership supported a mutual artistic exchange that stretches Bechtel creatively to make music collaboratively with devisers, while empowering and educating Lightning Rod Special in musical theater experimentation.


Lightning Rod Special has been collaborating with composer Alex Bechtel on the creation of a new, ensemble-devised musical called “Unformed Consent” about the state of the abortion debate in America. Whereas Alex has expertise in writing music, his process is generally a solitary one. Lightning Rod Special’s creation methods are all-hands-on-deck but generally text- or body-based and never involved writing music. A shared interest, however, is in innovation and never resting on the laurels of what has worked before. Our goals in this exchange were twofold: first, that each of us (Alex and LRS) would be stretched beyond our creative comfort zones and second, that we would come out the other side with a toolkit for making music as an ensemble.

Over several weeks of development in 2017, we tried many different methods for approaching group-writing. By taking techniques and tools that each of use in our separate practices, bending and reshaping them into something wholly new, we came up with a series of exercises that resulted in the creation of several songs for “Unformed Consent.” On top of that, we were able to find a process that that could be distilled into a communicable workshop format. Herein you’ll find a teaching guide for that workshop.

--Lightning Rod Special and Alex Bechtel

Download the PDF of "Twisting the Familiar: How to Devise a Musical" below:

Play "Bayla's Song" below:



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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

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