The New York International Fringe Festival will bring 200 shows to NYC from August 12-28. We spoke with writer Lila Rubin about The Fall.
What was the first musical that made you want to make musicals?
To clarify, The Fall is a play with music, not a musical. (The distinction? In a musical, the music is used as a means of telling the story -- a character expresses him or herself through song instead of spoken text. In a play with music, the music serves not as a storytelling device, but as a complement to the story. It establishes the atmosphere of the play, kind of like the lighting or sound!)
I think it was Shakespeare that initially inspired me to make plays with music. He is the true master of weaving song into plays! I was particularly captivated by a production of As You Like It that included a great deal of music. The ensemble had taken all the little ditties Shakespeare includes in As You Like it and turned them into full-fledged folk songs!
Tell us about your show in 3 sentences or less.
The Fall is about six young women who lost their fathers in the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. Set fifteen years after the attacks, The Fall examines how we recover after a crisis -- the adaptive and maladaptive ways that we cope with grief, the experiences that strengthen us, and the little moments that give us hope.
Describe the sound of the music.
It's like Laura Marling meets a children's choir.
Who is your favorite classic musical theater composer?
I adore George Gershwin.
And your favorite composer working today?
Jeanine Tesori, hands-down.
Why is it important to bring your show to Fringe?
This show is special for so many reasons.
First, for its sheer womanpower. The playwright, composer, director, producer, stage manager, lighting designer, and twelve out of fourteen cast members are female. Furthermore, The Fall is a play about women as daughters, as friends, as active members of their community, not as sex objects. The characters are beautiful in their ability to endure, not in their appearance. To have a play in which women can be complex, ugly, take up space, express total independence -- this is rare.
When I submitted The Fall for FringeNYC, I never imagined that the subject matter would feel so urgent. 9/11 was a defining moment in our collective history. For those of us who did most of our growing up in post-9/11 America, it was one of the first moments to shape our identity as Americans. We are at another one of those defining moments, once again set upon by questions about fear, resilience, and recovery. Do we, as individuals and as a nation, let ourselves be consumed by fear? Those affected by tragedy have to live with their new realities even when our condolences have faded away. It has been fifteen years since 9/11, and yes, the repercussions are still felt all over the world on a massive scale, but we have to remember that at the center of all this, there are still families dealing with it on a personal level every day. If we forget that, history will continue to repeat itself. This play is a reminder of that truth, of that endurance, of the ways in which we care for one another and heal.
Every second, a new statistic of violence springs the top of our news feeds -- dozens killed, or was it hundreds? Was it Baghdad, or maybe France? Belgium? Bangladesh? California? Whose life matters less today? The numbers are dizzying. We forget -- because we have to, for the sake of our sanity -- about the INDIVIDUALS. The Fall is about the individuals. It isn't a play about horror and tragedy. The point isn't to shock or disturb, or even to preach some kind of "love-thy-neighbor" message. It's just about women. They experience shattering loss, they grow up, they forge unique paths, they honor the legacy of their lost fathers, they struggle and make mistakes, and they LIVE. Just like us.
What's next for the show?
We'll see! I dream of someday performing The Fall at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.