New Swan Shakespeare Festival | Director: Eli Simon

The Shakespeare Classic was presented in an intimate setting, so all of the magic inherent in the production was in full view. Puppets were visibly manipulated, shadows were clearly created by actors, floating objects held in place by fairies, etc. The music wanted to be both magical and intimate, and it also wanted to feel appropriate to the scale of the production. The early conversations started out with a Korngoldian sense of grand piracy, but we soon settled on a more smaller vocabulary that didn’t dwarf the stage action.

This music underscored the storm in the first scene. It was accompanied on stage by the frenzy of the characters, and the ending sequence, where the music spreads out and slows down, served to underscore the beginning of the scene with Prospero and Miranda the next morning.

This music underscored Prospero’s explanation to Miranda of her history in Italy before their exile to the isle.

(photo credit: Paul Kennedy)

UC Irvine | Director: Eli Simon

Clown Aliens is a reworking and combination of two different pieces that I designed & scored for the National Theatre of Romania in Cluj. The piece is about a family of clowns from outer space that come to earth as refugees. Once safely on earth, they must learn how to be earthlings, and as we built the show, we sought to explore the choices that immigrant and outsider communities have to make when facing a dominant culture. How much do you hold on to your old culture? How much do you assimilate? How do you navigate you new strange community? Both pieces from Romania are already represented on this site, but for the production at UCI, we were able to bring in live musicians to build a funk band onstage. These recordings are excerpts from a house recording made during dress rehearsals.

Flying Saucer. Baby Clown gets the idea to build a flying saucer to search for her missing mother.

 

Sneaky Funk. This piece underscores the clowns as they escape pursuit by humans. The odd meter and perpetually-modulating key keeps the music on edge.

 

I Wanna Fly Back. At the end of the show, Baby Clown decides that she’s had enough of life on earth and is ready to leave to find her mother.

 

We Hate Them (‘Cuz They’re Different). The clowns and humans sing about how the tension between their two groups.

Brimmer Street | Director: Amy K Harmon

And They They Fell is a poetic play about two teens in Arizona, one a transgender runaway and the other a victim of domestic abuse. The teens find each other, and through their friendship, find the strength needed to transcend their horrible situations. I wrote a guitar score that tried to balance the poetry of the language and the hopefulness of the teens with the reality of their lives.

A transition. The birds flying served as punctuation and as a symbol within the play.

 

Another transition.

 

A third transition.

Geffen Playhouse | Director: Giovanna Sardelli

Though Guards at the Taj is set in 1648 India, the characters speak in modern American English, including accents, slang, and swearing. One of the challenges with the design and score was to find music that felt ancient and modern at the same time. I used digital drums, synthesizer, and traditional pan-Asian instruments to combine the two ideas into the world of the play.

 

A transition.

Another transition.

Teatrul National Cluj, Romania | Director: Eli Simon

Clovni Extraterestri is a sequel of sorts to Razboil Clovnilor (War of the Clowns), a piece that Simon and I developed for the National Theatre a few years ago. RC ends with a family of clowns blowing up their home planet; CE starts with that family of clowns escaping to Earth.  When they land on Earth, they have to make a life for themselves. Some clowns want to hold on to their clown identity, but others are quick to integrate into human culture. They get jobs, they adopt human traditions, they try to retain their own clown-ness. Some clowns are more human than others, but all of the clowns try to find a balance between human-ness and clown-ness. Through it all, the littlest clown, Baby Clown, misses their Mother Clown, who didn’t make the trip (presumably lost in space?).

 

The music is a balance of folk and funk, and was primarily performed by Ada Milea, one of Romania’s national musical treasures. Milea is a gifted singer and guitarist, and she performed in the character of a homeless bum who has wandered into the theatre.  All other music (everything that’s not acoustic guitar) was tracked or performed by me. The rest of the cast also sang, but Milea was the prime voice we heard.

 

Baby Clown things about flying away from Earth to see her mother.

Baby Clown decides to try to build a flying saucer to find her mother.

As the clowns try to make their way in the world, they run into a group of xenophobic humans.

At a crisis of identity and sorrow, Baby Clown’s remembers her mother’s advice.

Ultimately, Baby Clown decides to abandon Earth and seek out her mom.