A is for Always

(This is my first post for the A-Z Blogging Challenge. This post isn’t fully cooked but I am posting it anyway. Some editing may occur later.)

You’ve heard the Irving Berlin song ‘Always’, right? (Sinatra’s version is here. It’s one of my favourites – such a solid and lovely ‘I’ll be right where you need me’ message.

But have you also heard the Leonard Cohen version? Nothing explicit in that but it may not be suitable for all audiences) That’s got all the solidness of the original but adds in a little extra for other sorts of *ahem* needs – it is Cohen, after all.

I’ve always (ha!) been struck by the differences between the two versions. I mean, I know they were created in two very different times, so I wasn’t expecting them to have quite the same tone, but there’s a raunchiness to Cohen’s wording and delivery that I find very intriguing and I have always wanted to write a play that included both versions. One as the established mood and one as a turning point. A love story that gets thrown off its path.

Back in the day (a.k.a. before I had kids), I was the founder/director/writer of a theatre group that did dinner theatres. These weren’t quite the type of thing that ‘dinner theatre’ brings to mind for me nowadays – elaborate musicals with huge production values – they were pretty low key, community theatre type things that had second-hand store costumes and amateur actors.*

Our shows always had music in them but they weren’t musicals per se and our scripts were largely collaborations extended from improv sessions. I would take our ramblings, and the characters we created, and do a writing marathon to bang out a script. When we didn’t have time for an improv session or if nothing workable came out of the improv, sometimes we created a whole show just to feature a certain song that one of us wanted to sing. For the record, very few of us were powerful singers – our motto at the time was borrowed from Vivi Walker in Rebecca Wells’ Little Altars Everywhere** – ‘If you can’t sing it good, sing it loud.’

After I had kids (and they didn’t sleep for AGES), I didn’t have the time or the energy for the long rambly sessions needed to create the shows and we morphed into a different sort of theatre group and eventually stopped doing shows at all for a while. I still long to do that show though, the one where a character has to choose between two people who will love her/him always – one with calm steady love, and one with a sort of raunchy passion.

Until I started to write this post, I had always (ha! There I go again!) thought that the reason I didn’t write this particular play was because I had just gotten out of the habit of writing plays at all. Now I wonder if it was just a mismatch between idea and performers.

Perhaps I need to stretch my play-writing muscles again.

*Note: Many of the actors who worked with me actually have gone on to become professionals, but that has little or nothing to do with me or with my point here.

** That book has some triggering content with regards to abuse. Proceed with caution.