In 2007, I directed David Auburn’s outstanding drama, Proof, for the St. Clair Theatre Guild. It wasn’t a typical show for that group, which was much better known for its productions of classic musicals. But we had an opening in the schedule and I’d wanted to direct the show since I saw it in New York in 2001.
We put together a great group of actors and crew who were looking for the type of challenge Auburn’s play would provide. Proof won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2001 and also the Tony Award for Best Play, so we were working with first-rate material.
A successful production is much more than just the acting. Set design and construction, props, costumes, lighting, and many other elements are each important to create the environment where audiences can set their everyday lives aside for a couple of hours and immerse themselves in the fictional world we create. For me, a big part of that immersion begins with the pre-show music which plays as the audience is seating themselves and sometimes right before the curtain opens or the lights go up. Not unlike music that accompanies the opening credits of a film, pre-show music can give the audience a clue about what’s about to happen, setting a tone with a major or minor key, slow or fast tempo, or humorous or serious lyrics.
For Proof, I wanted a song to play right before the lights went up, but I didn’t want something that people would immediately recognize. I turned to Bandcamp and looked for artists in the Midwest, entered some keywords, and discovered Josh Woodward. Josh was living in Findlay, Ohio, back then, and was releasing a prodigious amount of self-penned and self-produced music which was all high quality and very original.
As I listened to several of Josh’s songs, one stood out as a possibility for the opening of Proof: “She Dreams In Blue.” Josh describes it on his current website as “Dark Acoustic,” and that’s exactly what it is, and exactly why it was perfect for our show. (By the way, Josh allows visitors to freely download and enjoy all of his music for a donation – or even free – because he’s licensed all of them through a Creative Commons Attribution license. If you stop by and enjoy his work, please drop him a donation!)
In 2007, I wasn’t certain if it was really okay to use Creative Commons-licensed music in a live theater performance, so I emailed Josh to check. He responded quickly and was happy to hear that I wanted to use “She Dreams In Blue.” He asked that I give him credit in the program, which I was happy to do.
Josh’s latest album is Sunny Side of the Trees. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, these days and almost never performs live anymore, but he continues to write and record his unique songs for our enjoyment.
Each of our performances of Proof began with this song. I still love it, and thirteen years later I’ve finally figured out how to play it myself (Josh’s instructions involve using two capos – I found a way to do it with one, but my version pales in comparison to his). It’s a great song, and this is a live version of it that he recorded at Coffee Amici in Findlay in 2009. I hope you enjoy it.