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The Sea Gull

An unique take on a classic play about alienation, unrequited love, and the struggle for artistic fulfillment.

We wanted a strange, acoustic soundscape.   At the time, I was studying free improvisation with Tim Feeney, and exploring the sonic possibilities of various objects.  Tim taught me how to play metal cups and mixing bowls with violin bows and how to make them resonate like singing bowls with mallets.  He also taught me how to make a friction mallet from a superball and a scroll saw blade to rub on the head of a frame drum.  I recorded a palette of sound for The Sea Gull using these techniques as well as playing various percussion instruments and cello.  

The cast used objects and instruments in subtle ways throughout.  Chimes, shakers, and bells replaced more literal props.  What resulted was a seamless mix of live and recorded sound that was especially successful due to the spatialization of playback I could achieve in the round.

 

The most rewarding part of this production was collaborating directly with the cast.  I had the pleasure of leading a couple of rehearsals, and using what I learned in Tim’s ensemble to train the cast on their instruments and guide their group improvisation. I used what I saw and heard to create a score for the centerpiece of the performance–an experimental sound bath that symbolized the two years that pass between Acts III & IV.  

These two years hold hardships for the characters.  Most notably, Nina and Trigorin’s baby dies and Trigorin leaves her.  Nina carried and played an old Autoharp, which symbolized the baby.  Most of the cast had various metal cups and mixing bowls, either creating rich sine waves or shrill punctuations.  Konstantin and Yakov played used the friction mallets on the frame drums to make eerie and sorrowful whale-like sounds.  The full cast vocalized with increasing intensity before a jump cut into the final act.  
 

The Sea Gull

written by Anton Chekhov
translated by Jean-Claude van Itallie

Director: Zoë (Duoyi) Wang

Produced by CalArts School of Theater,

December, 2022


 

Nina: Karolina Kwaśniak

Konstantin: Willington Liu

Irina: Erica Malachowski

Trigorin: Michael Lanham

Masha: Justine Faith Camesa

Sorin: Oscar Falcon

Dorn: Lily Rutman

Shamrayev: Clay Hollander

Polina: Madeleine Barnette

Medvedenko: Steele Howell

Yakov: Ling Chang

Scenic Designer: Jane Hamor

Costume Designer: Nishtha Tyagi

Lighting Designer: Jackson Funke

Composer/Sound Designer: Clare Marie Nemanich

Video Designer: Grace Hlavacek

Intimacy Coordinator: Emily Barasch

Technical Director: Ethan Geisness

Sound Engineer: Nick DePinto

Assistant Scenic Designer: Najing Cen

Assistant Costume Designer: Tara Froehlich

Assistant Lighting Designer: Max Okst

Assistant Video Designer: Wei-Fang Chang

Assistant Technical Director: Trevor Desai

Graphic Designer: Luyao Zhang

Producer: Yameng Deng

Associate Production Manager: Katherine Paez Froehlich

Stage Manager: Clara King

Assistant Stage Managers: Winky Kim, Sam Millette

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