THOUGHTS BY THE WRITER
The Genesis of the idea for adapting Ship Of Fools into a musical happened on a warm summer night
in 2005. Having rented the Stanley Kramer film version of Katherine Anne Porter's novel, I was sitting
with a friend, watching Jose Greco dance the Flamenco, when I turned to said friend and uttered
those prophetic words, ‘Gee whiz, this show ought to be a Broadway musical.' I went out, bought
the novel and fell under the spell of Ms. Porter's extraordinary story.
That spontaneous comment began a six-month process of
acquiring the rights from the Katherine Anne Porter estate. As soon
as I received the call granting me the exclusive right to adapt Ship Of
Fools into a musical, I started putting down on paper the myriad of
ideas that had been swirling around my mind for months. Because
I'd resisted the temptation to start work on the project until I knew I
had the legal rights, when I sat down to the challenge of the blank
page, it was no challenge after all. The words started pouring out.
In the three years since, work on the project has progressed
unabated. When my friend and past collaborator, Erv Raible came
on board (pun intended), the fun really began.
To date, the book has been adapted, songs have been written, more
songs are in the works, the book is constantly changing, lyrics are
tweaked, melodies sharpened, actors rehearsed, demos recorded,
and readings provide insight and gratification.
The ship of fools is an allegory dating from the 15th century, which depicts a
vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or
oblivious, passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant
of their own direction. In 1933, when our musical takes place, the passengers
of the cruise ship Vera, traveling from Mexico to Germany, are really sailing
into World War II, blithely unaware.
Today, many citizens of countries around the world sense that they're sailing
into an apocalyptic storm. But like the passengers of the Vera, we become
complacent, denying the reality of the danger we will eventually have to
confront. Art mirrors life, life mirrors art. Katherine Anne Porter's novel
reveals universal truths about humanity's schemes and dreams,
about our pettiness and our generosity, our intolerance and our love.
Above all, it reminds us that we are all searching for a safe harbor, a place to
- Pam Tate
|Ship Of Fools Sculpture
Artist: Professor Juergen Weber
Throughout it all, my work on Ship Of Fools continues to fascinate, surprise and inspire me. I keep
two pictures on the wall above my computer, one a picture of Katherine Anne Porter, the other the
famous Hieronymus Bosch painting, Ship Of Fools. I look at Porter's photograph and say, 'I promise,
Katie, I'll do right by you.’ Bosch's painting reminds me that this story is a cautionary tale that has
been around a very long time. That's why I think Ship Of Fools is so important to us today.