Theater in a plague year I: a live production of Lope de Vega's El perro del hortelano
Sound design/live sound mixing.
In Fall 2020, eight months into the COVID-19 crisis, Gala Hispanic Theater was afforded a unique opportunity: as a test for possible future shows, the District of Columbia government permitted Gala to mount the city's first fully staged production for limited-capacity audiences. The facility was revamped for COVID protections and extensive testing was carried out; the project was carefully monitored for risks, and ultimately concluded a successful run with no new infections.
The play was a classic of Spain's Golden Age of theater: Lope de Vega's romantic comedy-cum-social satire "El perro del hortelano," or "The Dog In the Manger," in a streamlined modern adaptation set in a futuristic Venetian club scene.
The set was encased in plexiglas walls as a barrier for aerosols from the performers, who were not masked. This required the use of microphones on everyone, and provided a unique sound-design opportunity. Isolated from the speakers by the plexi walls, the normally feedback-prone microphones could be mixed and effects applied much more creatively. The overheated passions of the close-miked characters could be voiced with telenovela-like reverb effects.
Pulsing club music filled the world on the stage, while speakers surrounding the audience provided an environment for this "terrarium of passions:" the jewel-like set confining the action was heard as if placed outdoors in a garden, the sounds of which provided a gentle context during quiet moments.