Direction: Jaye Willams
Sound Design and Composition: Mark Caspary
Scenic Design: Leah Ramillano
Lighting Design: Kristen Neu
Costume Design: Danielle Nieves
The Liquid Plain
In this the second ever mounting of The Liquid Plain, I served as the sound designer, composer and music director. The production was staged in the round, at the Robert Cohen Theater at the University of California-Irvine in January 2015. Naomi Wallace’s play explores sexuality and the violence of the slave trade as we meet two runaway slaves on the docks of an 18th century Rhode Island port to the lost archive of the slave trade at the bottom of the ocean. In the play there are many songs sung by the main character, John Cranston as he remembers his past as a slave trader. The sonic environment for this play was dynamically coupled to the tension and violence in the story, by shifting the sounds of the ocean and the environment.
The Dynamic Environment
The centerpiece of the sonic environment is the Ocean. The Ocean fills the abyss that our dock and audience reside in. The ocean signifies disequilibrium, and who in the story has the power. The Environment of the play reacts to the violence against the slave characters in the darker moments, for example Cranston’s sexual aggressions towards Adjua. The Sea gets more tempestuous and the environment takes on a tonal quality.
One of the other major themes in the show was the presents of a worm in Cranston’s leg that represents his and the other slavers guilt for what they have done. This theme is more and more present as the play progresses in this moment the guilt/worm is transferred to the captain of the slaver that throws Adjua’s sister overboard.
In act II. Bristol, Adjua’s daughter has a nightmare where she is tied to a chair and was thrown off a ship like her aunt. In our play this nightmare represented as movement sequence.
Speaker System Paperwork
Creating the sound system for this show presented some interesting challenges. First, designing an acoustically successful show in the round with asymmetrical audience seating. Second, immersing the audience in the ocean. To accomplish both goals we used a variation on the Meyers Sound Variable acoustic system to enhance audibility as well as immersing the audience with sound. Above is a drafting package of the sound system that was delivered to the sound shop supervisor. It includes: detailed drawings of the ground plan, cables runs, front of house position, and a section view of the system.