Friday, June 21, 2024

Q&A with Jennifer Schwed and Doug Bradshaw




Jennifer Schwed and Doug Bradshaw are the creators of the new musical audiobook 19: The Musical. It focuses on important figures in the women's suffrage movement. Schwed and Bradshaw are playwrights, filmmakers, and multimedia storytellers.


Q: What inspired you to create 19: The Musical?


A: As multimedia creators, we were considering our next production after finishing a run of an immersive theatrical play about Edgar Allan Poe.


It was the fall of 2016, and inspired by both the storytelling elements of Hamilton and what we had assumed would be the election of the first female president, we arrived at the idea of 19: The Musical.


This would be an artistic homage to the women who fought and won the right to vote in the US, the 19th Amendment. So much of women’s history remains buried and we felt now was a great time to right that wrong.

Q: How did the two of you collaborate on the project?


A: We’ve been collaborating for over a decade, so we’ve developed a sort of rhythm to creating projects. We outline a story together, deciding on the flow and what material will be covered. Then we kind of go into our corners and tackle different parts of a production.


Sometimes, the creative process is just inspired--one of us absolutely wants to write a song for one scene and the other is drawn to another scene.


What’s nice is that you have a partner to work through tricky parts or passages, testing them out loud, trying different words and phrases. And then of course, we do write together sometimes!

Q: How did you research the project, and what did you learn that especially surprised you?


A: Our research consisted of a lot of reading, speaking to many historians and watching documentaries. Almost everything we learned was a surprise as this subject is so poorly covered in most schools.


One of the most surprising things we learned was how often these women put themselves in harm’s way, spending time in jail, being force-fed and beaten. These women were relentless in their pursuit of equality.


And these suffragists were also a blueprint for the Civil Rights movement in America; they were the first group to peacefully assemble and demand their rights by marching to the White House.


Q: What do you hope listeners take away from the project?


A: We hope listeners appreciate how important it is to be involved and stay involved in politics because it impacts every bit of their lives. We want listeners to be inspired by the idea of working together and creating influence that can affect positive change.


And most importantly, we want to credit these women who went before us; we want to shed light on their story, their power and their perseverance. 

Q: What are you working on now?


A: Currently, we’re reworking our immersive Poe production for other mediums, we’re outlining a noir detective series, and there are a few other ideas on the table!

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: We would love for the audiobook of 19: The Musical to be shared in schools and used for educating children and young adults about the inspiring historical actions of the women who fought for and won the right to vote.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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