Q&A with Joshua H. Cohen - words for Tamar of the River

Joshua H. Cohen is a New York based playwright, lyricist and composer. He won the Jonathan Larson award for Tamar of the River (with Marisa Michelson).  He has scads of accomplishments, which you can find at http://www.joshuahcohen.com. 

See what he has to say about Tamar below...I love getting a peak into other writers' processes!

1) How did you get involved working on Tamar?

When Marisa received the American Musical Voices grant, she approached me with the idea of adapting this story from Genesis into a music-theater piece about a young woman trying to stop a war. I was immediately attracted to the moral complexity of it -- can an action that seems revolting actually be the best course? What is too far in pursuit of a noble goal? -- and to the musical possibilities of a young woman's developing relationship with God.

2) How do you and Marisa, the composer, collaborate?

Our collaboration, like our work, is fluid. First drafts of songs and scenes often happen over email, with Marisa sending me wordless recordings, or me sending her a completed lyric. Then we get together to pound out the details, in one session ranging over the entire show, and in another spending hours on a single moment. Also, I pace a lot.

3) If there were one sentence from the show that captured its essence, what would it be?

One of the things I love about Tamar is that it defies easy solutions to complex problems. If I had to summarize the point of the show, it might be the lyric the River sings at the end: "It will come. Peace will come. Days will come. Days will go. It will come. Peace will come. Time will ebb. Time will flow."

4) What are your dreams for Tamar?

The maddening complexities of war and peace are always readily apparent somewhere in the world. Syria today, who knows where tomorrow. If Tamar can spur and contribute to some part of that conversation, that would make me very happy. Of course, for that to happen, as may people as possible need to see it first...