Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Layers and voices

Today, cohorts of Geva's upcoming show Informed Consent had the opportunity to participate in a recording session in advance of the tech rehearsals this weekend. Despite blizzard warnings, the actors and production staff made it in and a few intrepid cohorts. The first assignment was to record individual family stories, which will be edited and excerpted and layered over one another to create a short, short audio clip of sentence fragments. The recorded stories ranged from one sentence "I don't know my family history" to an engaging retelling of a shoot-out in Uraguay; lots of European immigrant stories, with some Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and long-time American farmers thrown in. The sounds of the voices alone were inspiring, with male and female, British, Texan, Arabic, and Spanish accents included. Each speaker was also asked to say the word "and" and the phrase "Who are you?" My head is swirling with wonder at how this will be put to use. I do have a sense that the fragments will make a strong whole, the bits of stories will make a narrative about family and identity. And all this work for what will probably end up being 20 seconds of the show, in the background.
      We also got to sing! I have not had a chance to see this scene in the rehearsal, although I have read other Cohorts' posts about it. We recorded the chanting for the blood ritual, where he Havasupi reclaim what is theirs and honor their origin. Today we were led by the fine voice of Tina Fabrique and the spontaneous, helpful conducting of Jessica Wortham Newman. We spent 90 minutes overall to make the recordings, including just waiting a few minutes while the large snowplow outside finished rumbling around the parking lot.
I drove home, as the snow and wind increased, thinking about how much energy and thought goes into the tiny pieces. The playwright Deb Laufer has paid so much attention to each word and strand of each story and character. The director Sean Daniels works out snippets at a time of blocking or intonation or gestures with the actors. Now the sound features take center stage. By the end of the week, set pieces, prop placements and lighting will be the focus. And each tiny part of this production carries its own weight and purpose in creating a whole experience for the audience, who largely come in from their Rochester lives unaware of how much care and intention has been given to what they are about to see.

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