Pictured above: The band members of the Barback Daddies, from left to right: Jules (Maggie Ward), Donna (Mary Kate Young), Keel (Electra Tremulis) and Ghost (Alec Phan)/Photo: Matthew Gregory Hollis
Editor’s Note: This is an expression by Danielle Levsky in response to The Barback Daddies in an experimental list form; it is followed by information about the work and process.
On March 1, as a part of Pop Magic Productions’ Incubator Series, Olivia Lilley began working with Alec Phan, Electra Tremulis, Maggie Ward, Mary Kate Young, Raymond Cleveland and Alexandros Xourias to create an original, devised musical. Lilley taught the actors/composers/writers everything she knew about writing musical theater, and they created a story complete with nine, original songs through improvisation, discussion and collective songwriting. Lilley wrote the libretto and directed the musical while being assistant directed by Morgan Massero.
The story honed in on a Logan Square Riot Grrrl band The Barback Daddies. When the guitarist Ghost (Phan) is unwillingly outed as transgender by his partner/the band’s social media guy (Cleveland), the band is forced to confront Ghost’s evolution, as well as each of their own evolvements. The story that unfolds challenges each of the band members’ perspectives as friends, collaborators and humans, overall. In the event description of the page, it is described as “a story of feminism becoming intersectional… a story of transformation, identity and music.”
I also found it to be a story of disconnection and communication, evolving as rapidly as the elements that surround us.
Scene 1. Buckle Up Bitch plays.
Ghost, the guitarist: Water
Keel, the singer: Fire
Jules, the keyboardist: Earth
Donna, the new drummer: Water
Chris, Ghost’s partner/the band’s social media guy: Air
Scene 2. If I Could Run plays.
Ghost: Water, Water, Air, Water
Scene 3. Roman Rockets On The Run plays.
Keel: Fire, Water, Air
Jules: Earth, Air
Donna: Water, Air
Scene 4. Let’s Get Lost plays.
Mar, a solo artist: Air
Ghost: Water, Fire
Chris: Fire, Fire, Fire
Scene 5. Erase Me plays.
Keel: Fire, Air, Fire, Air
Ghost: Water, Fire
Donna: Air, Earth
Jules: Earth, Water
Scene 6. Bitch In The Room plays.
Chris: Fire, Air, Fire
Donna: Earth, Fire, Fire
Keel: Fire, Fire, Fire
Jules: Earth, Fire, Earth, Fire
Ghost: Earth, Fire
Scene 7. Final Shot plays.
Jules: Air, Fire, Water
Scene 8. Space plays.
Mar, a solo artist: Earth, Air, Fire, Water
Ghost: Earth, Water
Scene 9. I Still See You plays.
Keel: Water, Air, Fire, Earth
Ghost: Fire, Air, Water, Earth
All the elements come together.
At each of the showings of the Barback Daddies, the team presents the musical and follows it with a talkback, where they gather the audience’s reactions and thoughts to where the musical currently stands. Throughout the process, the team has applied dynamic changes, like adding an additional song to the show after the first weekend’s run of workshop performances. And like each transformation, this new song will surely change, adapt and mold the elements that surround each of the characters and the story, overall.
The Barback Daddies performances will occur May 25 and May 26 at 8 PM at ACM Music, 3001 North Central Park Avenue. More information can be found at facebook.com/events/2028411967485640.
Danielle Levsky (she/her/hers) is the Theater Editor of Scapi Magazine. She is a feminist, Jew, poet, essayist, performance artist, and instructional designer. In addition to her work at Scapi, she has covered community news, arts reviews, lifestyle editorials, and cultural events for several publications. Between February 2018-2019, she completed a fellowship where she wrote a collection of community-engaged essays about her identity and heritage. She also writes typewriter poems on demand with Poems While You Wait. Follow her on her poetry Instagram to read some works in progress.