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Composing for musical theatre: approaches to interdisciplinary collaboration


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This study investigates how a composer negotiates the transition from previous solo working practices into an interdisciplinary setting, through the creation of four original works of musical theatre. Experiences of composing within three contrasting collaborative models are considered within a framework of socio-psychological, organisational and creative collaboration theory, and cross-referenced with interview evidence from contemporary musical theatre composers. A five-stage process in the development of a collaborative musical theatre project is presented, illustrating key factors influencing each phase. The musical theatre environment is shown to be an ideal setting for both research into collaborative creativity, and the nurturing of collaborative skill. By consciously exploiting diversity as a resource, the composer can both enrich their compositional practice and learn to collaborate more effectively. Auto-ethnographic research can further enhance this development, with the mental act of self-observation fostering a sense of self-awareness that promotes innovative approaches to the compositional process. The role of composer-researcher demands a flexibility of thought and approach that supports the duality required to effectively shift between collaborative and solo contexts, and the microcosm and macrocosm of the show.
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