Musical Master Class 9 — Essential Words About Story Structure
For an optimal story structure, Michael Kunze prefers to work with only one protagonist who has to overcome rising opposition. To make the protagonist appear bigger, a very powerful and threatening antagonist must constantly create new opposition.
The story should become the means for the hero’s character to overcome some kind of fault, or shortcoming, either within himself, or in regard to his relationships with other people.
For example, Marie Antoinette must overcome her arrogance and become a better person. The entire story structure must be designed so that all elements support her in this quest.
Michael emphasizes that he does not intend to “preach” to the audience about the “right way” to live one’s life. He’d rather wants to give the story a real meaning which goes beyond the protagonist’s transformation. In fact, the protagonist should only the reach her goal, when she has clearly overcome her character flaws.
“I find this type of structure particularly useful for whipping a story into shape.”
Michael recalls his favorite metaphor—the main character’s descend into a “pit”, somewhere near the beginning of the story, and then his focus on a way out of this “hole”. He adds, “Death and resurrection is a very intense and often recurring theme in my musicals.”
In the case of ELISABETH, her son Rudolph’s burial becomes the catalyst for her own life-changing epiphany. Now she knows what has been wrong with herself. Again, the key song beautifully illustrates her transformation and she can now move on to the fulfillment of her quest…her love for death.
Michael concedes that most of his stories are rooted in historical events. However, he wants his themes—whether they relate to women’s lib, arrogance, or a struggle for freedom— to be understood by a modern-day audience.