Perfect Duluth Day reported in early May that a new musical play written and directed by Conor McPherson with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan was scheduled to open at the Vic Theater in London in July. What wasn’t known at the time is the play is set in Duluth.
Audio clips of two tracks recorded as part of a workshop for Girl from the North Country can be heard in the PDD post from May. Three reports verifying the setting of the play are listed below.
From the BBC New story “Bob Dylan: Conor McPherson on writing the musical“:
Conor McPherson has set the play in a guesthouse in Dylan’s birthplace of Duluth in Minnesota. It is called Girl from the North Country, after a track Dylan wrote in 1963.
From the “About the Show” synopsis from Theatre.London:
McPherson’s play of the same name takes up this idea of wandering. The events of the play take place in Duluth, Minnesota during the Great Depression. A troubled family own a guest house, which is home on a rolling basis to a range of lost souls travelling through the area. One of the characters, Nick Laine, thinks he has found a way out of the situation.
From the Guardian story “Conor McPherson hits the mainstream with haunting drama and Dylan’s songbook”
His latest play, Girl From The North Country, which will open at the Old Vic in London in July, is something else again: a chance to experiment with form and tone. It uses Dylan’s songbook as a jumping off point for a story about a couple running a guesthouse in Duluth, Minnesota, in the 1930s.
“It’s about a week in their lives with the guests passing through, and we have this beautiful opportunity to use Dylan’s songs as part of that. There’s no musical instruments used that wouldn’t have been there in the 30s and that allows us to reveal the prehistory, as it were, of those songs from before Dylan was born, almost as though that music flowed from the airwaves and into his DNA.”
The project came about when the singer’s record company approached McPherson, “and I came up with a few pages of a possible story”, he says. “They showed that to Bob Dylan and his manager and they said we could use whatever music we wanted and in whatever way, which was a great privilege. In the end we’ve used about 16 to 18 songs.”
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