The Siti Company's bobrauschenbergamerica returns to New York City with a limited engagement at Dance Theatre Workshop, April 23-May 16, 2010. livedesignonline is running a series of interviews with the designers* of this production, in which director Anne Bogart and playwright Charles L. Mee have created a wild theatrical road trip through the American landscape as Robert Rauschenberg might have conceived it had he been a playwright instead of a painter. More than a biographical portrait, bobrauschenbergamerica, which premiered at the Humana Festival in 2001, is a tribute to one artist’s singular vision. First up, sound designer Darron L. West, a Siti Company member since 1993:
Live Design: How are you rethinking or re-designing your work for this revival of the piece? Are there any new design or technology elements that have been added? Or deleted?
Darron L. West: bobrauschenbergamerica has had quite a run of it in our repertoire since it premiered. From Paris and Dublin to Columbus and Boston and a brief run at The Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival in 2003, which won the 2004 Henry Hewes Design Award for the entire production team.
Because the company continually re-visits its pieces I'm always attempting to come back to the play in rehearsals with fresh eyes. There was a continuity issue in the soundscape of the play that I'm actually going to get to go back and fix finally (there was just no time before) So, there will be some new surprises at the end of the show for those in New York who may have been lucky enough to see it at BAM.
Of course there are always technical issues in the sound rig that will be recalculated due to the size of the theaters and the relationship of the stage footprint to the audience. It's going to be fantastic for us and for the audience to get the play back into the more intimate space of Dance Theater Workshop. It's one of my favorite rooms in NYC and bobrauschenbergamerica is one of the more visceral pieces in the history of the company so it's going to be great to get back in the faces of the audience. The comedy of the piece always seems to shine thru more in the intimate spaces where we've done the show. The actors in the SITI company have an enormous control of their voices but, of course there have been the need for mics in some of the larger venues we've played but the in the DTW performances we'll get to go back to more of an acoustic show which is going to be great since that's how the show was originally conceived, to give the audience the feeling they're right there on stage with us.
As far as sound technology goes, the show was created in 2001 so the soundscape was at that time run on three Mini Disc decks (remember those?) and was moved over to SFX for a brief period as well I think. But, thankfully it's now being controlled by Q-Lab v.2. We first moved it into Q-Lab v.1 for the Ireland performances in 2007. The production has run the gamut of playback technology since it's birth nine years ago. In getting prepped for the remount I went back to the original 2001 plot (which I've included just for kicks as a PDF) and was a bit astonished at how much the technology has changed from then to now. I mixed the original performances during the Humana Festival and in looking at the 2001 plot I had forgotten how busy I was during the show shuttling those MD decks from cue to cue.
LD: How is your gear list different, and what led to the changes...
DW: For the Dance Theater Workshop production the theater has such an amazing sound system in the room to begin with I'm augmenting very little for the run of the show. At this point only back stage vocal monitors for Will Bond's shower song when he serenades the audience with the old Inkspots song "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire."
Once upon a time we used a Sennheiser Miki2 mounted in a Sennheiser headset frame for the same actor Will Bond in a very surreal section of the show but, for the DTW run we get to step up the technology to the DPA 4088 which is going to be very exciting for the actor as he's going to have so much more sensitivity with the DPA to play with in the scene.
The rest of the show rig will consist of the DTW house system:
1 Soundcraft 32 channel K3 series console
BSS Soundweb 9088ii and 9008 DSP's for speaker management
3-XTA GQ600 Graphic EQ's
2-Klark Teknick DN410 Parametric EQ's
1 Lexicon PCM91 FX unit
2 DBX160A Compressors
2 EAW ASR665e Mains
8 Tannoy i12's for Upstage, Rear of House and General Stage Monitoring
2 Meyer Sound USW-1P Subs
Amplification for the system is powered by Crown MA1202's, MA2402's, MA3600VZ, CE200's,and XTi200's.
Playback will come from the trusty SITI Company core two duo Macbook and MOTU Ultralite Interface running 8 channels of Q-Lab playback with Headphone monitoring by Beyer Dynamic DT220's when it's noisy and Grado SR225's when it's not.
* Set and costume design by James Schuette
Lighting design by Brian H Scott
Sound Design by Darron L West