Today’s question was emailed to us by Tactus Supporter Josh. We hope you and everyone else finds the answer interesting (we do hope to be interesting!). Please feel free to comment and add your thoughts or ask questions that this post may spark! In this case, the answer has two parts. The first is a general response from Sarah. The second is a detailed response about the role that sound plays in this piece and in creating the space of this piece from Adrian.
A question from Josh:
How do you think about invoking a complex environment like Hades or Grand Central Station without use of props or scenery?
A general response from Sarah:
This is a tricky question to answer for me because we worked backwards to decide where the play should be set, and then worked forwards again to express that setting to the audience.
When we first started throwing around ideas for a “fringe show” we knew that we wanted to work on a “found text piece.” Given how easily such a project can become overwhelming and too big for itself, we decided to ground it in a story and in a location. We chose the story of Eurydice because it is a story about communication and information that already participates in a rich discourse about society, womanhood, and voice. Second, we chose Market East in Philadelphia, a well-known train and subway station, because it is a recognizable landmark and because, due to its volume of traffic and location, provides fertile ground for artistic exploration.
So the first part of establishing where we are comes from naming the piece Eurydice in Market East already tells Philadelphia audience a lot. They know Market East as a subway and train station, one that lies close to a lot of shops and that sees a lot of foot traffic. It is, like the story of Eurydice, also a place of music, where buskers are a common sight. By using the story of someone who ends up in Hades (and making sure we review the story in the program for those who do not remember) and then invoking the name of a well-known train station in the very title of the piece, we have already done a lot to help our audience reach the train station and underworld.
When we take this production to New York, we will place Eurydice in Grand Central for the same reasons we placed her in Market East in Philadelphia. We want to locate Eurydice in a place that our audience will know, right from the time they first read the name of the show. We want her story to live partly in their own world – the world where they go to work and return home to play. We want to leave the stage as blank as possible so that the audience can bring their knowledge of the places we do and do not talk about with them from off the streets and continue the finding of this found text piece.
That said, we have to turn to sound for the bulk of the work. And for notes on that, I turn to Adrian.
An in-depth look at sound and space from Adrian:
As our production does not feature either sets or props, the setting has to be felt through non-visual senses: in our case, dialogue and sound. Coming at this from a musician’s perspective, I’ve approached the sound design as a long flowing composition. I view it like a minimalist piece, which evolves slowly and seemingly monotonously, but three or four minutes on, you look back and realize that you are in an entirely different space. At Grand Central Station, there is, of course, the great atrium, which is loud and bustling; however, there are also many smaller tunnels leading to various trains, which I imagine Eurydice exploring during her quest for self-discovery. In creating the space, I seek to aurally transport you out of the bare space where you are experiencing the play and into the vast expanse of a grand train station, which is an experience most urban-dwellers know well and can relate to as part of their daily lives. Of course, rather than pitched motifs as the foundational elements to develop, I am using the actual sounds of several train stations I have visited in both New York and Philadelphia.
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