The Inconvenient Miracle began as a play in 2012, my first year of graduate school at The New School for Drama. It was inspired by a series of psychosomatic episodes I experienced throughout high school and college where I believed myself to be pregnant, despite still being a virgin. In grad school, I begin to re-examine these experiences and delve into what they might mean as both a feminist and a person of faith. I began to see them as a manifestation of the conflicted feelings I have about my own religion, about sexuality, and about womanhood. Before long, the characters of Vanessa, a sarcastic teenage girl with a major mystical conundrum, and Sister Florence, the long-repressed lesbian nun, appeared before me. And so, Whatchamacallit: A Play About Jesus was born.
I was first introduced to Ria T. DiLullo and The Skeleton Rep through a mutual friend in 2014. (All right, it was her ex-boyfriend, but who cares?) Ria was the first director to truly love the play and understand its themes and its specific brand of comedy. We organized a developmental reading for the play, which eventually evolved into a full production the following year. Whatchamacallit: A Play About Jesus was produced by The Skeleton Rep and received a two-week run in April of 2016 at The Secret Theater in Long Island City. As director, Ria introduced music as a new layer in the script. While I had originally written a group of disciples who functioned similarly to a Greek chorus, Ria asked if she could incorporate the disciples singing, and I agreed. Under her leadership, the play truly blossomed. Despite a very successful run, one thing was clear to both of us: the work was far from complete. It needed to be a musical.
By profound good fortune- or divine intervention?- I met Emily Rose Simons through the CRY HAVOC Company, where we had both worked as apprentices. After hearing her music, I become convinced that she was the perfect composer for my musical. I shared the original script with her, and she loved it. Emily Rose provided the essential third element to our trio: an experienced musical theater writer with a deep love and understanding of the form.
The first draft of The Inconvenient Miracle received an informal reading as part of The Skeleton Rep’s Salon Series. Since then, portions of the play have received periodic developmental readings within the company. We were also very fortunate to have excerpts of the play presented at the 2018 BEAM Showcase- Shining a Light on New British Musical Theater.
In April of 2018, we produced a semi-realized workshop production for a sold-out audience at The Tank. Based on this workshop, we were invited to present a portion of the show at the New York New Works festival. We are working on further developing the piece based on feedback from these two presentations.
At this point, Emily Rose, Ria, and I have been working on what has become The Inconvenient Miracle for a year. As the book-writer, I have been challenged to dive even deeper into questions I merely touched on in the play, such as the relationship between sexual consent and divine power. The musical has proven to be far deeper, more complex, and funnier than the original, and I never could have reached this place without the inquisitive prodding and profound insights of my collaborators.
-Emily Claire Schmitt