The Thing I Hold
The Thing I Hold was performed as a part of the Hangar Theatre’s Wedge Series. This show is a modern retelling of the Athenian Tragedy, Alcestis. The main design concept that our team worked around was creating a link between ancient and modern elements.
The Thing I Hold by Harrison David Rivers
Director - Ismael Lara, Jr.
Scenic Design - Matthew B. Kornegay
Lighting Design - Caitlin E. Brown
Sound Design - Tommy Truelsen
Costume Design - Vicky Butler
Song of Seikilos
For sound, I first created a link between ancient and modern music. This production centered around two primary pieces which both share the message of living life to the fullest. The first being the “Song of Seikilos” which is the oldest complete musical composition and dates back to the 1st or 2nd century AD in Ancient Greece. I taught the chant to all of the actors on both the Ancient Greek text as well as the English translation. The performance of this piece opened the play and featured two soloists as well as the entire company singing the chant.
Our director found much inspiration from “Answers” by Alyss. A large portion of my underscoring mimics the incessant loop from the song. The part of the song that caught our attention the most is the poem which encourages the audience to “be love”. At the moment in the story where Alcestis has her epiphany, the poem from “Answers” by Alyss is heard. Each cast member recorded themselves reading the poem on their own electronic device and sent it to me. Their versions of the poem were then spliced together to create the final product. For the underscore of this show, I coached three actresses on doing their own vocal ad-libbing over a loop, inspired by “Answers” by Alyss.
The second way in which I used sound to create a link between ancient and modern elements was through creating drones to be linked to different characters or moments in the show. Musical drones have been used throughout all of history dating back to the usage of aulos, an ancient Greek wind instrument, in the 5th century BC. Modern drones are often used in minimalistic works, and electronic drones are often used in film scores. Three drones were created for this production. The first drone accompanies the production anytime that death is onstage. The second drone is associated with Alcestis, it is virtually the same thing as the death drone but with the addition of a chain rattle layered over top. The death drone over Alcestis symbolizes death looming over her, and the chains symbolize her being bound to Admetus due to her decision to take his place and give her life up for him. This drone accompanies Alcestis as she dies with her final breath being represented by one last shake of the chains. The third drone plays during moments of flashbacks.
PC: Matthew B. Kornegay