The Space Between (youtube.com)
A more beautiful, heartfelt and poignant analysis of the huge aching gap that the pandemic has driven between people might be harder to find right now. This time specific mini musical by David Hunter and singer / songwriter Caroline Kay cuts through the pain and isolation of lockdown for a couple who are apart.
It is clear from the outset things are not well, but the glorious editing of face time, text messages and zoom calls just makes the distance greater and the decisions more powerful.
Without doubt there is the sense of Jason Robert Brown about it but the skill and melodic honesty of this new writing is both exciting and inspiring.
Both performers turn in fine performances, the non speaking extras add a realism that steers it from any hint of self indulgence. Which brings a further level of reality.
This piece whilst being a refection of our time is so much more and perhaps a writing partnership well worth exploring. Well worth watching and if you can, donating. 


An interview between David Hunter and Caroline Kay is posted below; detailing their unique creation and how they have yet to meet. 
 David &
Caroline talk about writing ‘The Space Between’ in Lockdown... without actually
meeting!



 Were you aware
of each other’s work before this project?
 David: People
have been telling me to work with Caroline for years! As actors and
singer/songwriters, we have always moved in similar circles but somehow
completely avoided each other! Bizarrely it took Lockdown to finally bring us
together!


 Caroline: Yes.
As David is a leading man in the West End, I’ve been aware of, and admired, his
immense talent for years – I saw him in ‘Waitress’ earlier this year – and
because I’ve followed him on social media, I had also listened to his original
music. We both did solo gigs in January with Lambert Jackson Productions, and a
charity event online during Lockdown, and I think the promo for these gigs may
have put us slightly more on each other’s radar.
 Whose idea was
it?



 David: I came up
with the beginnings of an idea about a couple separated by Lockdown, with all
the drama played out through video calls - Zoom, FaceTime etc. But we developed
the story together as we wrote the songs and explored these characters.
Caroline: David
got in touch with me with the idea of a new short musical about a couple kept
apart by Lockdown and asked what I thought about it and if I wanted to write it
with him. We chatted about the concept and story, and then began the writing
process.


 

When did you
start writing?


 

David: We
started on the 14th of May and basically had everything written in three weeks.
Then began the planning, filming, mixing and editing - which took much longer
than the writing. It’s incredible how much planning had to go into the
recording. Everything you see in the video happened live, in one take and took
some serious planning!

 

Caroline: The
whole project has been put together in under two months, and though it’s just
only 13 minutes of content, I think that’s a real feat for new writing,
particularly given the fact that it all happened in isolation without so much
as a Zoom call or Facetime! David has two kids and various gigs, and I was
lucky to still be working my part-time office job from home, along with writing
my own musical, so I think we worked pretty efficiently!


 

What was the
process of collaboration?


David: We kept
in touch purely by WhatsApp. It wasn’t intentional at first, it’s just how we
started batting idea back and forth. Caroline would play around with a chord
structure or a musical idea for a song and send something over and then we
started firing lyrics and melody ideas at one another. I can honestly say every
moment of the musical has been discussed and agreed upon by both of us. If one
of us wasn’t completely happy, we’d hash it out and find the best solution.
We’re both very open and accepting of other ideas, whilst being ready to
passionately stand up for ones we truly believe in! It’s been a really easy and
enjoyable collaboration.


 

Caroline: It was
a really balanced collaboration in which we both continually progressed the
piece together. After lots of chatting about story and character, I’d start by
playing around at the piano with some chord structures and melody ideas which
I’d send to David for thoughts. The music and melodies would develop from
there, and then we’d delve into the lyrics. Sometimes David would suggest whole
verses of lyrics that we’d then work on, and other times we’d each contribute
alternate lines naturally as we went. When we had the bones of a song created,
we’d both go through it with a fine-tooth comb, questioning certain lines and
lyrics and making changes
.

 

How did you
communicate your ideas?



 

David: Purely by
voicenote and text - we’ve never spoken in any other way! It gave us time to
listen and re-listen to ideas, reflect on them and voicenote back again. More
often than not we’d be on the same page and we’d often voicenote one another at
the same time to find we were passionately making an argument for the same
thing!

 

Caroline: We
communicated solely over Whatsapp and I think we did a great job of expressing
our thoughts and opinions – which can be a hard thing to do in any
collaboration, but particularly one so new that neither of you have even met!
I’m proud of how honest we were able to be with each other; able to stick up
for an idea if we felt strongly about it but equally good at listening to each
other and sometimes finding compromises.
 

Did the Lockdown
affect your work?


 


David:
Massively. First and foremost, it encouraged us to finally work together, but it
also gave us our subject matter and the tools for

telling the
story. It’s amazing to think I’d never heard of Zoom a few months ago and now
it opens a new musical we’ve written!


 

Caroline: Yes, of course, but I’m not sure that it was a negative
effect. Working in different countries and never having so much as a phone call
or video chat about the project is definitely going to affect a collaborative
writing process, but, strangely, it worked for us! Aside from Lockdown
affecting how we worked; it also very evidently affected the piece itself as
the story is set in lockdown too.


 

Did one person
write the lyrics and the other the music or was it more collaborative?
 David: It was
extremely collaborative. Caroline would usually lead off with a musical idea
and then we’d bat ideas back and forth.

Sometimes one of
us would write a whole verse which would stick, other times we’d discuss a
single syllable for hours! We considered and scrutinised every last word and as
a result we’re both utterly thrilled with the final result. It’s easily the
most satisfying creative process I’ve ever been a part of. 

 


Caroline: It was
definitely collaborative on both counts, but I would say that I led with the
music side of things to get us started with each song, and David often led with
lyric ideas. We each had equal say and opinion on both aspects though, and once
we had put together a rough song structure, we would both work on melodies and
lyrics alike.


 

Did either of you
write individual songs?


 

David: It was
much more collaborative than that, but certainly we agreed that we would each
take the lead on our own solo songs. Vocally it had to sit well in our voices,
but also the tone of the language used had to feel real and authentic to us.
Both solo songs still feature huge input from both of us, but we were sensitive
to the fact that it had to feel satisfying for the actor performing it. I’m
forever looking for songs that speak to me and feel authentic for auditions and
such, so it’s been nice to be in total control of that aspect. We could shape
the songs to go exactly where we wanted to go as actors.

 

Caroline: We
both wrote the whole show together, but it’s fair to say that David led with
the male solo, and I with the female, which I think was natural as we knew we’d
each be singing the songs respectively, and knowing our own voices meant being
able to decide keys and certain melody choices which would work best.

 
Could the show
be written longer or is this it?


David: This is
it. The musical was always designed to act as a fleeting glimpse into this
couple’s lives during Lockdown. As a project though, I hoped it would begin a
journey in musical theatre writing, so I expect this is the start of much more
work. Maybe another Short, maybe a full length masterpiece!

 


Caroline: I think for this specific story and format, this is it.
It was born out of our current situation as creatives in Lockdown and is about
a pivotal moment in the lives of this couple as they’re stuck in Lockdown too.
That’s not to say we can’t work on similar ideas, or different projects
entirely together, but I think this show, this short glimpse into a
relationship, is complete as it is.