LIFT

A New Musical by Craig Adams

Book by Ian Watson

 Nothing really happens in LIFT, but then that’s the point.

It doesn’t have a clear ‘Boy meets Girl’ plot. It’s about emotions and how strange we are as human beings I suppose, and how the LIFT – the setting for the show – becomes a metaphor for the unspoken feelings the characters keep locked inside.

 So from the very beginning of this process the show has been about people and how we cope in different or similar ways to the same situation. Therefore everything that happens in the show is centered round the characters and LIFT was born from them.

 The original idea started whilst I was training to be an actor. Myself and a group of peers got together and talked about devising a musical.

 Original ideas were loosely based on the concept of interconnecting characters and setting these ‘mis-fits’ - as they became known - in some kind of confined space.  I had always been obsessed by inanimate objects, and how they witness so much life – a bed, a hotel room … a LIFT!

Thus the very first incarnation was born – original working title “One Minute In A Lift!” – and lead to a one-off performance that was received well – the idea being more interesting than the content.  After this I pursued the possibilities that this project could offer. I made loose character sketches, knowing all the time that setting a show entirely in an unchanging, confined space would be dependent on interesting characters that told unique stories.

 The lift in question became Covent Garden tube station lift quite quickly. I embraced the fact that it was a tube station lift, rather than an office or department store lift, because it’s about the travelling, being in that state of flux, having not yet arrived. This is what excited me about the characters and how it affected their state of mind. They find themselves constantly in transit, unresolved in one way or another.  

 Originally the show followed a slightly obvious ‘six degrees of separation’ idea. Allowing the characters to explain their stories through flashbacks and dreams that overlapped.  

Once Ian was onboard it seemed more interesting to us both to pin point a central character that could link everyone. But without him/her being a narrator what kind of involvement could they have?

There were characters that got the chop – a religious but deluded psychiatrist , beyond her own help, who has fallen in love with a ‘Jesus Look-a-like’ barista. There was also a female cellist – the Busker’s estranged wife, who writes the letter that now lies at the heart of this particular minute of reality.

Once we’d settled on all eight characters it felt right that the Busker might be our version of a narrator, guiding the audience through these imagined life stories without leading them by the nose or even speaking directly to them, or anyone else. He shows us his ideas of these strangers less obviously, through the songs he writes about them – the character’s he sees everyday in the lift.

Making him a songwriter - an artist full of angst – desperately trying to find himself through the songs he writes that nobody hears, he could manipulate these characters into telling his story rather than telling their own – art inspiring life, inspiring art!

His music, his lyrics and even his own thoughts are, like him, “in this lift, going nowhere.” The words and melodies bounce back at him through the characters and their own, imagined, realities.

What came out of hours of discussion and draft after draft was a story that is one character’s – the Busker’s – but equally could be every other character’s too.

Eventually the theme of how we communicate in modern life by never really communicating at all, and how we would rather build imaginary lives around us that simply ‘say how we feel’ became inextricably linked with the idea of repetition and reprise from altered perspectives. Soon the need for exposition and traditional narratives were rendered away from the heart of the show and it became its own little unapologetic story- in a lift!

Our characters and our Busker’s dreams are all contained in an unforgiving and inescapable steel box with ‘No armor, and no protection’.

‘We all speak the same words, live the same stories and dream the same dreams …’  We all have the ability to communicate, to learn and to love and yet we share the most intimate spaces in lifts, on trains and in life as if we’re strangers who share nothing. This is what the show tries to explore.

 

 
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