‘The Privilege of being a Writer’ by Béa Gonzalez



Hello. It is a very long time now since August 2008 when Béa Gonzalez wrote the very first blog on the previous website dedicated to our musical theatre adaptation of her extraordinarily beautiful novel, The Mapmaker’s Opera.

The journey that brings us forward now to December 2017 – and this brand new website – reminds all of us involved that we have been on this journey for nearly 10 years. The more extraordinary reality is that this is not an uncommon development time for new Broadway bound musicals. The new website is also timely in that the fully revised version of our theatrical adaptation; now known as The Stranger from Seville, will have its first backers audition workshop in New York in September 2018 directed by Martin Platt.

We have brought a selection of the older blogs from the original website across to this new one; ones that reflect some of the most interesting research and ideas that we accumulated over the initial writing phase of this musical (2011 – 2014) and which culminated in 2014 with a grand-jury selection to participate in the New York Musical Theatre Festival!

It is not at all widely known that up until the New York Musical Festival rehearsals, we had never heard any of the music or book in any type of reading or workshop. It seems crazy now that this was the case but, for writers coming from Australia, this is a unenviable reality as there are no formal systems in place within the industry (if you can call it that) to do readings and workshops as is possible in the USA!

The musical has since gone through significant changes and re-writes, a process that has never been arduous for us in any capacity, but has taken a number of years to work through. This is so, because, since the project’s inception – and Béa’s belief in our efforts – we have never lost that spark of inspirational love we have for her storytelling and belief in the story that it tells.

In April and May 2018, we will do some new music demos of a few of the new songs we have written prior to undertaking our New York workshop. Stay tuned!

Kevin Purcell
Composer | Songwriter
The Stranger from Seville

18 August, 2008 [the first blog written from the original website]

Béa Gonzalez

If there is one thing that is truly wonderful about being a writer, it is the many people you meet because of a book you have written and to whom you would have no connection otherwise. Our books become the “slender threads” the Jungian writer and wise man Robert Johnson speaks of, which unite your life with other threads held by people in sometimes disparate corners of the earth.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I heard from my agent that an Australian composer had called to enquire about turning my novel into a music drama. It was all the more surprising given that I had articulated my desire to see such a thing happen when the novel was originally published and was informed that having a book turned into a musical was rare indeed!

I immediately contacted Kevin—delirious with gratitude that he should be interested in such a thing–and a scant few months later we were meeting in Toronto and discussing the project over dinner in a restaurant on Harbord Street with a glass of wine in hand (Australian, of course!)

Kevin is right—I did write the novel as if I were writing the libretto for an opera. The scenes would unfold beyond an imaginary curtain as I wrote and I could see the characters traipsing across the stage discussing this and that and living out the details of the drama. The music I tried to create through the rhythm of the words which is the only thing a writer can do—because language can never adequately convey emotions as powerfully as music is able to do. The only way a writer can ever hope to infuse the text with musicality is through verbal rhythm and rhyme but that too is difficult and it is easy to miss the mark.

Since that wonderful dinner on Harbord Street I have been amazed at the dedication Kevin and his librettist, Victor Kazan, have shown to get the project done and get it done right. All too often a novel is bought to be made into a film and a writer dreams and waits, and the novel sits on a shelf, waiting for someone to infuse the pages with a new kind of life. The passion and commitment shown by Victor and Kevin is all the more extraordinary because of that. The work began immediately and when the outline for the musical was sent to me a couple of months ago, I was delighted with the result.

I think now of Kevin in Spain listening to the most difficult of all art forms, flamenco—difficult because it can never be fully grasped nor completely understood except in that one moment when duende infuses the performance and you are captured heart and soul—-I think of Kevin experiencing that and I remember what the Andalusian poet and dramatist, Garcia Lorca, once wrote:

With idea, sound, gesture, the duende delights in struggling freely with the creator on the edge of the pit. Angel and Muse flee, with violin and compasses, and the duende wounds, and in trying to heal that wound that never heals, lies the strangeness, the inventiveness of a man’s work.

May the duende continue to accompany Kevin in the creation of his music drama for which the book can serve only as a springboard. And I thank Kevin and Victor for making Mapmaker’s come alive in a new and magical way.