A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Photo: Pete Guither/ISU

Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance
Westhoff Theatre

Director: Vanessa Stalling
Scenic Design: Jen Kazmierczak
Lighting Design: Caisa Sanburg
Composer/Sound Design: Shannon Marie O’Neill (as Shannon O’Neill)
Costume Design: Jamie Jones
All photos on this page: Pete Guither

 

This production was unlike any other production of Midsummer you’ve ever seen. Imagine Puck as a lost little girl stuck in a warehouse who conjures the whole story as a means of escape from her situation. And, imagine Athenians and fairies who dance to 80’s synth-pop style music. This version of Midsummer took audiences on a journey with a terrified little girl who, through dreaming and play, learned how to approach the world without fear and to dance with reckless abandon.

Music was a huge part of this play, and I spent a great deal of time creating musical moments. Sound effects, though present, were minimal. I did, however, have atmospheres playing throughout the entire show. I currently only have selected music loaded to this page, as the atmospheres will require mixdown (I sent different layers of the atmospheres to different speakers in QLab, meaning I need to take them into a multitrack editor and mix them before I can upload them to this site.) I will upload atmospheres soon.

All recordings on this page ℗ 2013 , Shannon  Marie O’Neill.
Music © 2013, Shannon Marie O’Neill

Opening Dance:

This music came in as Puck conjured the story of the Athenians and the fairies. We see her alone and abandoned in a warehouse, and as she begins to play, the dance unfolds around her. The music for this dance was composed after the choreography was set, and in creating the music, I used loops from Logic, but also recorded the voices of our cast saying their favorite lines from the play. In some instances I used cast members’ voices as instruments within the piece — they were turned into instruments via Logic’s EXS 24 sampler, and used as percussion instruments. In other cases, I used the lines as-is. If you listen carefully, you will hear lines from the play mixed in with the music.

 

Forest Transition:

The fairies transform the warehouse into a forest on their first entrance. Director Vanessa Stalling and I discussed how long each portion of the transition should take, and I created this piece around those timings. The transition was magical — flowers popped out of drawers, grass grew out of books, and the warehouse became a wonder of nature.

For this, I recorded some sounds and turned them into instruments and I used some of Logic’s instruments. This is a mixdown of what was played in the space, as I had the different sounds coming from different spaces, based on where action was happening. In all I had six separate speaker locations in the theatre.

 

Lullaby:

This is a scratch track of the song the fairies used to sing Titania to sleep. The fairies sang and danced with this live onstage. The scratch track is 90 BPM, but when live, it was performed between 105 and 115 BPM.

 

Wedding Music/Final Dance:

This begins to play as the lovers get married, and morphs into the final dance moment of the show. It harkens back to the opening dance, but has a decidedly more cheery feel to it. I chose this moment to pull from other texts, giving a nod to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (part of his music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream), as well as a famous Shakespeare sonnet. Again, I used EXS24 instruments to create some of the music, as well as Logic loops and vocal recordings.

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