Timeline of A Scotch Verdict

Timeline of A Scotch Verdict Development

We first conceived the idea of writing a hybrid piece containing elements of opera and musical theatre in 1998.  The musical, as we now call it, is based on Lillian Faderman’s Scotch Verdict, which revolves around the true story of Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods who ran a boarding school for girls in 1810 Edinburgh, Scotland.  The accusation of one of their students, Jane Cumming, illegitimate grandchild of wealthy and powerful Dame Cumming Gordon, brought ruin upon the school and the schoolmistresses.  Jane Cumming had accused the schoolmistresses of committing “unnatural acts” together.  This tale told to Dame Gordon led to letters circulated to the families of the other girls of the school, and in a matter of a couple of days, no one remained at the school except for Jane and Marianne.  Jane and Marianne went to the best lawyer in Edinburgh to sue Dame Gordon for libel, and from this actual case, we have the complete trial transcript.  The tale may sound familiar to you as it is the same story that Lillian Hellman presents in A Children’s Hour, though she never gave credit to the original historical incident.

We faced many difficulties in this project:

Two of our synopses for the piece are quite telling about the discovery of the core of the work as does the change of name of the piece from The Misses Pirie and Woods to A Scotch Verdict

We have presented a timeline here that reveals the fluid process we went through in our development of the musical.  We wish to share our journey with the artistic community, and for those of you who love musicals, to share and demonstrate the winding path with its many blind alleys that is part of a musical’s route to production.