THE SONGWRITING RECIPES OF SCOTLAND, PA
Scotland, PA is the first collaboration between Adam Gown and Michael Mitnick. As the book writer, Michael figures out the architecture of what’s happening scene by scene. Adam, the composer and lyricist, takes Michael’s insights into the characters' thoughts, feelings, or actions and translates them into song. Once a scene and a song exist, Adam and Micheal work together to integrate them into a single vision. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at a few of the songwriting recipes that transformed Scotland, PA from raw material to a fully cooked musical.
INGREDIENTS: CHEF'S NOTE:
RECIPE: "Clairvoyant" instinct
“Clairvoyant” came out of Michael Mitnick’s instinct that the two lead characters should have a duet at that moment. Adam translated that impulse into a song.
INGREDIENTS: 1 long scene 2
CHEF'S NOTE: RECIPE: “Peg McDuff is on the Case”
1 cup of character’s point of view dash of economical lyricism
For “Peg McDuff is on the Case,” Adam adapted a long scene that Michael had written into a song.
INGREDIENTS: 1lb of raw material RECIPE: "Outta Here" CHEF'S NOTE: “Outta Here” is based on a monologue that add emotional vibe to taste
was written by Michael. Although the monologue was not intended to be a part of the script, it provided deep insight into the character's point of view. Adam used the monologue as raw material to write this song for the show.
3 tbsps stream of consciousness essence of subtext
"OUTTA HERE" MONOLOGUE EXCERPTS PAT: We’re not thieves. No. We’re just underachievers making up for lost time. Leave it all behind. The piss-stained bar and the same dumb jokes, night aſter night. Don’t want a suitcase. Just the framed photo of our wedding day and my Dad’s bomber jacket and then we hit the road. Start from scratch. Somewhere by the water where there’s a lot going on. And people with big ideas who like other people who have big ideas. And we’ll be respected for what we do. And if we don’t feel like working, why, we don’t have to. We can just sit on the sand. While the money rolls in from all your big ideas. And we’ll watch the sun disappear behind the water. Forever.
MICHAEL'S ORIGINAL MONOLOGUE: ADAM'S LYRICS
PAT: WE HOP IN OUR PONTIAC AND DRIVE. HEAD TO THE OCEAN, / FEELIN’ ALIVE. / OPEN UP A PLACE / RIGHT THERE IN THE SUN. / WITH ALL YOUR BIG IDEAS, / EVERY SINGLE ONE. / OH, WE GET OUTTA HERE YEAH, WE GET OUTTA HERE / BLOW OFF THESE JERKS, / TELL ‘EM TO SCREW. / THAT’S ALL WE GOTTA DO. / THEY’RE CALLIN’ THE SHOTS, / THEY’RE KEEPIN’ US DOWN./ SO WHEN IS IT OUR TURN? / SCREW THIS DIVE BAR TOWN. / IT’S NOT THAT WE ARE BAD.
BOTH: WE’RE UNDERACHIEVERS MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME. / CAN’T WE GET OUTTA HERE? WE COULD GET OUTTA HERE.
SCOTLAND, PA UPSTAGE GUIDE 17
“As you’ve probably gleaned, there’s not really one recipe going on, just a lot of improvising! One thing we did try to develop was the palette of spices we were cooking with, flavors that felt specific to the world of Scotland, PA. A lot of the rewriting process has been about the seasoning, making sure every moment has a taste of this very specific, slightly off-kilter, dark and funny world.” —Adam Gwon
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