How do you write the lyrics for an entire new musical in three weeks with 25 authors?

Here’s how. I think.

We’re going to choose an over-arching narrative for our class-written musical, something with mass culture appeal that has not yet been made into a musical – Harry Potter…AVATAR…something… – and break it, roughly, into acts and scenes. Each student gets assigned to an act and a scene, and to the song from that scene.

They each (the students) only have to write one set of lyrics. One. But they have to revise it twice. They’ll be assigned (or can assign themselves, better) to particular topics or scenes from the over-arching story, and that topic becomes their song. They work on it for the entire course.

The students are going to be divided into 5 groups of 5 each, each assigned to a chunk of the narrative. I’ll try, based on the first day, to break it up so that folks with theater experience are divided fairly among the groups.

The other 4 members of the group become the chorus members for the lyricist’s song, if the song has a chorus. Everyone will, in this way, be in four choruses as well as writing their own song.

Any rehearsal time they get will have to occur outside of class – I think most of them won’t rehearse, but will just do a cold read.

And on the final day of the course, we’ll present all the lyrics, one after another, in narrative sequence, resulting in a mass-crafted musical. There won’t be music, but they can read them out loud.

I like it. A lot. I like it better for its many seeming impossibilities.