From Company Member Carol: After months of hard work we finally had our first showing of Building Emily Warren! Honestly, it was one of the most stressful but exciting opening days I’ve ever had. Between fixing last minute problems with our sounds and projections and going through songs and dances, the crew was always on high alert, ready to do what we do best.
Since it was just the three of us on crew, the trust and respect between us was crucial, especially today. I’ve learned so much from them and through this process about both lights and sound, two technical aspects of theater I’ve never really learned before. With so much to do and so little time until the lights and music started for our opening number, it felt like we would never be ready. Thankfully we had each other; no matter what the problem, we worked together to solve it.
Even so, the show today went beyond my expectations. Taking into account the fact that we didn’t have a show two months ago and the fact that we didn’t have the music for two of our songs until this week, I think our cast did a phenomenal job pulling through tonight. They worked through every mistake and kept the show going.
I’m so immensely proud of everything our company accomplished. Today’s performance wasn’t perfect, but it did have heart. I feel like we honored the Roebling name and Emily’s legacy and I can’t wait to share her story with others over the course of the next two days and in Scotland at the Edinburgh Fringe!
From Company Member Jason: We are only nine days away from our New York performance. Our actors are just getting used to running through the show without looking over their scripts. Crew is helping us during our runs and brainstorming ideas for lights and sound once we get to Edinburgh. We have also been running through four of our nine songs. We are are constantly fixing and improving the harmonies and tempos. As our show continues to shape its identity, we grow more and more excited to perform it!
From Company Member Zoey: Yesterday was an amazing experience getting know one of our recent supporting engineering firms, RAND. The people there were so kind and welcoming. We told them what our play was about and they loved it! The president of the company, Stephen Varone, even paid us a visit and asked several questions. We talked to several engineers and they were thrilled that our show would help their profession be more visible.
I was really inspired to see how happy RAND was with our project. The company had a lot of positive energy which was nice to see, since it reminded me of our own group. We discussed the Brooklyn Bridge, Emily Warren, and her rooster! We explained the faulty wire situation, which surprisingly, two of the engineers didn’t know about, so we also fed them new information, too! I really appreciated how much RAND was willing to spread the word and help us with our production by getting more supporters. We are another step closer to realizing our dream thanks to RAND and I’m happy they are now a part of our story.
Visit RAND at: https://randpc.com/
From Company Member Jade: Waking up around 6 a.m is a pain that many of us feel, but waking up that early to go to a live taping of a show makes the experience much more exciting. Our group of Fringe performers have been so focused on getting this show on its feet, whilst actively finding and reaching out to new groups of people, that being able to sit down and watch a live taping of The View was an enjoyable change of pace for all of us. The political discussions in the show were not only well constructed but included fair counters from every member of the show. Hearing the cast members have an actual discussion about current issues within our country was much more interesting then a group of people yelling at each other and trying to invalidate each other’s beliefs.
Having the chance to tell the audience about our show was great. Something I enjoyed was being able to talk about what our group has done. We’ve made more than outstanding progress on this journey and being able to tell new people about it who seem intrigued is an amazing thing. Whoopi Goldberg spoke to all of us personally, and that was by far our favorite part. Having an absolutely brilliant person like her speak to us was an honor.
The last segment of the show was a short discussion about a summer reading list, suggested by one of the hosts. The first book was about the woman who took over her husband’s champagne company after his passing. This immediately reminded us of Emily Warren Roebling. Women have accomplished and continue to accomplish so much, and don’t receive the recognition they deserve. There must be plenty of other women like Emily, who have done amazing things but were hidden away.
Our show deals with women’s history as well as the history of New York. We want our show to be an eye opening, conversation starter. The conversation exists, but the more it’s discussed, the more people will try to do something about it. The women of The View inspired us to keep the conversation going.
Visit the website of The View: https://abc.go.com/shows/the-view
Or check out their YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ABCTheView
From Company Member Angela: The past two days have been so exciting; I can’t believe we are rehearsing! We have finally finished writing our script and all our lyrics. We are, however, still stuck on names for two of our songs. I think it’ll come to us sometime during our rehearsals. For things like this you need to be inspired; people will be watching this show to educate themselves on Emily's story, so everything has to be perfect.
This show is so beautiful and powerful. I’m am truly proud of it. We are learning so much about our characters through various acting techniques and exercises. We are also learning how to work together as a unit. I feel like we understand more about ourselves and the characters we work with. (We also learned how to work together by making cake and tacos at our director’s house!) Plus we have been rehearsing in the beautiful South Oxford Space in Brooklyn. This whole experience has been great so far!
Want to use a great rehearsal space? Five-minute walk from Atlantic Station in Brooklyn!: http://www.art-newyork.org/rehearsal-space
From Company Member Nia: Our biggest concern with writing and composing our own musical from scratch was ensuring that our songs made sense to the audience and told the complete story of Emily Warren. It turns out, by only listening to our lyrics, Tony fully understood our concept and message! We were so relieved. Of course, there were several things we as songwriters needed to work on, but Tony's amazing feedback left us confident to make those changes. He spoke to us about over rhyming, organization of our lyrics, and our use of extended vocabulary possibly being a mouthful to sing once the lyrics are tied to music.
It was a big step to even walk into Tony's recording studio. I doubt any of us ever thought that we would be getting our own music performed and published. A lot of us never believed our potential would reach this level of publicity. With that being said, for us to share our raw lyrics with professional songwriter, musician, producer and artist Tony Conniff, and be given constructive criticism; it felt as if we stepped into the world of professionalism in the music industry.
We are now editing our songs and improving them in all the ways Tony suggested, as well as adjusting the structure of a few of them. It was amazing and so genuine for Tony to take the time to help young aspiring lyricists like us bring Emily Warren Roebling's story to life. We are almost there and can use all the help and ideas we can get! Thank you so much for believing in us and keeping up with us. Scotland, here we come!
Check out Tony's website at: http://tonyconniff.com/
From Company Member Carol: Yesterday we took a trip to Roebling, New Jersey in order to visit the Roebling Museum and learn more about Emily and her family. For me, this was a chance to learn more about Emily as a person instead of as an engineer. I was also excited to get out of the city and do some hands-on research instead of just reading about the Roeblings. In addition, being the techie I am, I hoped to find inspiration for set and costumes. Though Emily lived in Trenton, the town of Roebling gave us a good idea of how the people lived at the time.
In the museum, we got to see a bunch of Roebling artifacts, including steel, tools, identification badges, and even a piece of “Roblingite,” which was named after Emily’s husband, Washington Roebling, because of his love of minerals and extensive mineral collection.
We also got the chance to just be together and take in the beauty and history of the town. We learned that 70% of the people living in the town are descendents of either John Roebling or the workers of the Roebling company. I found this bit of information really powerful because it made me realize that Emily, John, and Washington were all real people, and even though logically I knew they were real, this trip made me realize that this isn’t just about the Brooklyn Bridge; it’s also about people who loved, cried, suffered, and laughed.
All in all, even though this trip made me excited to continue writing and really helped me with the writers block I was having with my scene, it gave me so many new ideas I want to add to the show. I am especially excited for the rest of this journey as we continue building Emily Warren.
Want to know more about the Roebling Museum? Visit their website for upcoming events at: http://roeblingmuseum.org/
From Company Member Kirstian Gutierrez: Today we went to visit our wonderful friends at Materials for the Arts and shop for some fabric that we plan on using for the clothing for our musical! After searching for what seemed like forever, we found wonderful colors and patterns to use for our petticoats and dress. We have a nice array of vibrant plaids for bright compliments and geometric shapes as a subliminal homage to the construction of the bridge. We paid attention to the tiniest details! We are extremely excited for the end result and cannot wait for you guys to see what we have in store! Stay tuned!
From Company Member Roxanne Rosario: Our experience at the Brooklyn Bridge definitely helped us with our research. We first went to the Brooklyn Museum to find out more about 19th century. Moreover, we learned about women's rights and how it was in the workforce and wages; we saw how New York City has evolved to what it is now. We also visited a memorable monument, which was the office of the Roeblings where they planned and executed the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge and where John A. Roebling died. Lastly, we visited the Brooklyn Bridge where we walked all along it and saw the important plaques that made an impact in history. John A. Roebling and Washington A. Roebling had their own plaque mentioning them as engineers, while Emily Warren Roebling was not mentioned in the same plaque as one of the engineers that helped build the Brooklyn Bridge. She was, however, dedicated in a separate plaque.
The past two weeks we've spent writing and writing! We brainstormed all the things we wanted to include in the script and decided that if we kept them all, we'd have a 5-part miniseries! We reviewed our list and decided just to keep that things that directly involved Emily. We wrote everything out and moved things around to a plausible order. Once we started to make connections, we made two columns- one that represented what was happening with Emily, and one that represented what was happening with the bridge. We divided everything and now we're writing dialogue and lyrics. We'll post lyrics as soon as they're polished!