Center for the Performing Arts @ Illinois State University, Normal IL
Directed by Richard Corely Scenic Design by John Charles Stark Costume Design by Olivia Crosby Lighting Design by Mark Maruschak Sound Design by Robert Hornbostel Original Music by Robert Hornbostel and Kieran Pereira This Design was the 2013 winner of the KCACTF Region III Sound Design Excellence Award
A Brief Overview
Anonymous is the story of a boy in search of his mother, who were separated in a storm on their way to America from an unknown country, and is modeled after the story of the Odyssey. The 90 minute show follows Anon through a series of unfortunate events, from storms to freight trains to psychopathic butcher, mirroring the events of the original greek tale. Our Production focused on the story for these refugees, and the struggle of coming to America, and being exploited and treated like human garbage, while still attempting to retain their cultural diversity.
Mixdown of Design
Anonymous is to date the largest undertaking i have been apart of, and one of my favorite designs so far. The design featured original music pulling from 5 different cultural backgrounds, where this music was then taught to actors on instruments that were created from trash materials. Playback was done in a 16 channel speaker array, allowing full control of audio placement, forcing the audience into Anon’s to overcome the same perils with him. The design was a 90 minute non-stop action packed soundscape, and contained over 250 cues in Qlab, coming to a grand total of 15.6GB of data, and featured over 15 original works created by myself and my asst. Kieran.
In order, we hear Anon’s memory of his waring homeland, which sweeps into the sweatshop that his mother works in, and are thrown into a fearsome storm, washed up on shore, and chased into the streets, where he meets Pascal. Pascal and Anon catch a passing train, and wind up at a butchers shop, where Pascal is taken aside and killed by the one-eyed butcher, and Anon escapes by stabbing him when he is distracted. When Anon escapes, he dodges traffic on a highway and winds up in a bar of Harpies, who attempt to trap him, but Anon escapes and ends up getting picked up by a hitchhiker, who in turn attempts to molest Anon. Anon escapes by crashing the truck, and comes across an indian family’s restaurant, where he seeks shelter, and finds the whereabouts of his mother. In an epic closing, Anon confronts the sweatshop owner, and battles him for his mother’s freedom; Anon wins, and is reunited in the end, with the chorus returning to sing their family song.
Preshow for Anonymous was a great opportunity to bring in local immigrants from our school and integrate them into the performed piece. Each of our 11 volunteers read passages of various lengths, ranging from stories of their families, their homeland, their travels to America, and their experiences thus far. I then crafted an environment of a refugee camp, which then was overlayed with a few short songs Kieran and i wrote, that blended different cultural groups. These tracks also utilized the multi-channel rig, allowing the environment to exist in the distance, the music on the proscenium, and the voices to travel around the audience. Here is a small excerpt of the 45 minute preshow.
Nemasini & Anon’s Song
This was an original work that was based off of a Japanese folk song that our Nemasini sang with her mother before they moved to America. I wanted to create a piece that meant a lot to her, while also translating it to this production, pulling bits from other cultures and blending them together into a single song. For the finale of the show, the chorus comes out from the shadows and sings this song with Anon and Nemasini, while also backed by this track, to create a very strong and beautiful ending to this dangerous journey.
The Train was a really fun effect to build as it utilized all 16 playback locations simultaneously to create the rush and power of an actual train. This track shows the individual effects used to produce the train, which were all field recorded original tracks, and a 2-channel mix of the overall effect, that shot across the audience in a great roar of power, shaking the seats, to then settle upstage of the action. There is also a drumming pattern that is introduced, which was used for Anon and Pascal, who start to drum on the side of the train in a bonding moment.