R + J: The Vineyard

Adapted from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet by Janette Bauer and Aaron Sawyer

Directed by Aaron Sawyer

Red Theater, fall 2015


In fall 2015, I was asked by Red Theater Chicago if I'd be interested in designing sound for an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. I was being asked at the last minute because this adaptation moved the action to a thriving Deaf community on Martha's Vineyard circa 1890 and would, therefore, incorporate American Sign Language. They hadn't anticipated needing sound.


The challenge, then, was to find a balance, to find just enough of a soundscape while also respecting the sounds of silence. And in short order.


The music cues became thematic signposts: simple leitmotifs deployed sparingly at crucial junctures.


As I learned, Deaf people can actually hear some things, but only select and usually extreme parts of the spectrum of comprehensible human sound. So, these extremes — piercing highs and rumbling lows — made their way in, too.


For this, I got my favorite pull quote, courtesy of SPORK! Magazine: "[The sound adds] an additional disorienting layer to confusion and anxiety.."


That's what I do best.

"But soft!..."


The Potion


Queen Mab's Theme

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