The rain falls outside the house, inside are trapped the pathetically realistic characters of our story. Equal parts cinema, story telling, and technology this piece is both desperate and transformative.
Piece: Vieux Carré
Author: Tennessee Williams
Production: UCSD Department of Theater
Director: Will Detlefsen
Set Design: Anna Robinson
Costume Design Amanda Junior Bergmann
Lighting Design: Joel Britt & Brandon H Rosen
Venue: La Jolla Playhouse Marcus Weiss Forum Theater
Date: November 2016
The technical inspiration for this piece came from a variety of sources, and, like many of my designs, reflected the creative space in which I was revolving at the time of its conception. I had recently returned from the 2016 International Computer Music Conference in Utrecht where, among many other things, I had been exposed to some great modular synth performances (which I have loved ever since I first saw Philip White perform at JACK in 2012) and the music of Marcel Wierckx. Upon returning I was intent on two things: perfecting my own noise generator in Pure data which more closely resembled the warmth of analog synth and exploring spatialized audio using ambisonics.
The recurring sonic event in Vieux Carré is the sound of rain outside of the house and I it seemed only right that the swirling noise that I was attempting to create would serve as the blueprint for these ambiences. In addition to creating a warmly banded noise source (see diagram at right), I enabled the upper most band to travel randomly throughout the range. This provided the variation that I enjoy in the fundamental level of my instruments (when I'm surprised by my sounds I become inspired by them). The bass frequency of the noise could be controlled either by random signal/metronome or via piano keyboard controller. These interfaces provide the maneuverability necessary to create in real time.
The actors were outfitted with body mics in order to give us the control we wanted both in loud sections of transition and during the hyper intimate bedroom scenes. This sound concept was a natural fit for the live feed which was broadcast on the rear wall of the the theatre for the majority of the performance.
When dealing with abstract sound sources the environment needs to simultaneously allow for the human quality of emotion. Director Will Detlefsen imagined a musical ideé fixe for the Overture and climax of this piece: for this purpose Mahler's Adagietto from Symphony 5 provided an excellent foil. The dark parallels in the use of this piece for this gay coming of age story and Luchino Visconti's treatment of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice did not go unnoticed.