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Work Samples

D Crandall music & sound design samples

A few recent music and sound design project samples

D Crandall Lighting samples

A few sample images from recent lighting designs. More detail available in the Projects area.

D Crandall Projections samples

A few images from recent projections designs. More detail is available in the Projects area.

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About David

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

The kind of theater I’ve spent my life in is theater in the wild, undomesticated by commerce, theory or politics but possessing a subversive charge of value, concept and power that, in Hamlet’s phrase, can “delve one yard below their mines/ And blow them at the moon.” From an undergraduate fascination with English ritual street theater and Peter Brooks’ The Empty Space, through my years in Washington, first as a stagehand with Peter Sellars’ American National Theater and then as one of the first... more

Naoko Maeshiba's SUBJECT/OBJECT: lighting design

For her 2016 Theatre Project performance Subject/Object, Naoko Maeshiba, true to form, wanted to turn the theater around backwards: to swim down the ranks of audience seating through billowing plastic waves created by Khristian Weeks, lit from beneath, and to emerge from under the first row of the audience as a newborn creature. Not a problem. Household LED lamps were used under the plastic to prevent heat buildup, and we devised placements that gave the look we wanted. For an appropriately hot look for the "birthing" sequence, small theatrical units were placed in the front row and carefully monitored.
After a second act that was a comedic cabaret, the third section of the piece turned dark and mysterious as the audience, now facing upstage, witnessed a performance tied together by mystery, sound and salt. The piece ends with the performer retracing her path up through the audience seating to the dim expanse at the top of the house.

THE SHATTERING FRAME: Lighting design

For this unique noir tale of urban corruption, director Trevor Wilhelms wanted a shadowy, fluid treatment of the lighting that could be controlled by his actors during performance. Four small spotlights of the sort used in store window displays were handheld by performers and controlled from the dimmer system. This unique system of low-tech moving lights permitted many unique effects to be produced, which lent the story the demimondaine aspect it deserved.

Photos by Allyson Washington

  • Bridgette

    Autumn Breaud as Bridgette Miakaowski
  • Bridgette and The Kid

    Bridgette (Autumn Breaud) and The Kid (Liz Christmas) on the corner
  • Meet Tiger Brown

    Bridgette (Autumn Breaud) and Sheriff Brown (Scott Burke) discuss politics.
  • Talk!

    A rat, played by Dave Iden, gets the treatment, courtesy of Mika Nakano
  • The Mayor in Trouble

    The Kid confronts The Mayor (Jacob Zabawa)

FÊTE OF MISTAKES: lighting design, projections engineering, performer

"In The Fête of Mistakes, Psychic Readings Co constructs an abstract fairground littered with the overwhelmingness of despair and the sustained tension of hopefulness."

This production, produced by Psychic Readings Theater, given at Baltimore's Le Mondo in December 2016, presented a number of interesting challenges and opportunities. The performance space, having no existing lighting system, grid or other infrastructure, was adapted into an intimate, even claustrophobic theater that opened out into the wider space of Le Mondo for a spectacular finale demolition derby. Lighting instruments, ranging from LED flashlights to clip lights to standard theatrical fixtures, were used to create a shadowy, subterranean space situated (or not) beneath Niagara Falls.

Projections were carefully prepared to create a seamless, hypnotic moving mandala and other apparitions which helped propel the plot of this all-American demimonde.

In addition, I appeared (as David J. Crandall) with a prophetic song in the penultimate climax of the evening:

“But you must hurry! Don’t you dare be late!
The engine of fate has no governor! Get what’s coming to you! Go! Go!”

Photos by Dave Iden

Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE at Annex Theater: music direction & orchestrations

One of my favorite works of classical music is Mozart's Magic Flute, a singspiel that is connected, not only to high opera, but to the rowdy German music halls of its time. So I was delighted when, in 2015, Annex Theater asked me to help as music director in staging this gem in a tiny, 30 person theater on North Avenue.

Budget ruled an orchestra out of the question—the score would have to be played on computer and built in software—but it occurred to me to embrace this fact by scoring the orchestra as a collection of sampled toy, mechanical, and a few period and folk instruments. By "period" I mean not only 18th century variants of orchestral instruments, but also samples of authentic 1950s and 60s synthesizers, including the unique Jennings Univox, a vacuum-tube instrument from 1954. The result was an exceptionally warm and unique accompaniment for the singers. The score was mixed in 4-channel surround and played back on computer.

Annex company member Jacob Budenz joined me as director of the singers, and we collaborated on stylistic details; Evan Moritz directed the staging, and Doug Johnson provided magnificent painted backdrops that paged like a giant picture-book to reveal the settings.

Photos by Dave Iden

  • "Hm! Hm! Hm!"

    The orchestration of the quintet "Hm! Hm! Hm!" featuring (the magically silenced) Papageno, Tamino and the three Ladies, set up for editing as MIDI data in Ableton Live.
  • Papageno

    Ishai Barnoy as Papageno in Annex Theater's production of THE MAGIC FLUTE
  • Virtual orchestra

    A "rack" of digitally-sampled instruments in Native Instruments' KONTAKT application. Note the presence of various toy instruments. The panel at the bottom holds controls for the Jennings Univox synthesizer plugin.
  • The Queen of the Night

    Allison Clendaniel as Queen of the Night in Annex Theater's production of THE MAGIC FLUTE.
  • Rehearsal score

    A page from the Queen of the Night's first aria. Red markings indicate "rehearsal letters" corresponding to phrases to be manually cued in performance. We found a Russian-language piano score that had plenty of space to insert our new English translation.
  • Real time playback control

    The music was broken up into phrases for easier rehearsal cuing, and larger sections to be manually cued in performance by the stage manager. This software is Qlab, from Baltimore-based company Figure 53.
  • Overture excerpt

    A brief excerpt from the Overture using sampled toy and mechanical instruments.

THE WEDDING DRESS: Projections (and sound) design

Playwright Nelson Rodrigues revolutionized Brazilian theater in 1942 with this dreamy, radical story of the death of a young woman in the 1920s. Director Rebecca Holderness and set designer Vicki Davis devised a white, fragmented playing space sliced in two by a sheer curtain that ran diagonally for the entire width of the theater.

The video design for this project was based on a small projector mounted in a housing that mimicked the movie cameras of the day, and allowed projected imagery to play across the curtain, permitting actors to have access from either side, and also to "shoot" video onto actors' bodies, upstage walls and other surfaces.

I also contributed the sound design for this project.

  • Video on the curtain

    Video of Rio de Janeiro traffic projected onto a sheer curtain, with an actor behind "mirroring" her own shadow.
  • General view

    The playing space with the curtain open. Note the projector in its housing on a tripod to the right, and the image on the floor, where the actor is looking.

Rhymes with Opera's RED DEATH: Lighting and projections design, tech direction

After working with Baltimore's Rhymes With Opera on David Smooke's Criminal Element, we discussed creating lighting and video for operas that are specifically intended to tour in a standard van.

Adam Matlock's Red Giant was an excellent choice for this. Set in a time when the Sun has become a "red giant" and is about to engulf the Earth, this opera follows three individuals who, among many others, have built jury-rigged spaceships and blasted off for destinations unknown, to escape certain destruction at home.

The lighting rig was very simple, a few instruments on either end of the tiny (8' wide) playing area, LED strip lights along the sides of the "rocket," and a scrim upstage that screened the orchestra (a home security monitor provided a conductor's video feed to the singers via a small CRT that was part of the set). Complex colors and imagery were provided by a single video projector mounted behind and above the action, which washed the singers with nostalgia-laden imagery as they sang of their lost home.

  • Red Giant trio

    Elisabeth Halliday, Bonnie Lander and Robert Maril, in a side view of the stage
  • Red Giant duet

    Elisabeth Halliday and Bonnie Lander at the controls
  • what's out there?

    Robert Maril, Bonnie Lander and Elisabeth Halliday face the unknown

Songs from stage productions

Occasionally, I am called on (or inspired) to compose songs for particular scenes in the plays I design. Here are a pair of songs from recent shows.

  • Hella Bossa

    A character in Annex's MASTER & MARGARITA inspired Dan Hanrahan and myself to create a song for the mysterious redhead demon, Hella, here sung by Kristen Toedtman with Portuguese lyrics by Dan.
  • Kafka On The Shore-title song

    The story of Haruki Murakami's KAFKA ON THE SHORE revolves partially around a song, created during the 60s by a young, amateur musician, which threads throughout a tale of love and redemption that spans 50 years. The thought of period Japanese "rockabiri" music and a mournful Badalamenti-esque baritone guitar inspired this tune, here sung by cast member Julia Nakamoto and with lyrics by Murakami himself.

Acting roles

I have been fortunate to play a number of acting roles, ranging from a composite character in Annex Theater’s Macbeth, who witnesses the action of the play in a drunken post-battle fugue, to a classic role as Father Jack in Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, to a funeral director with a twist in Annex’s UBIK. These opportunities have deepened my understanding of the totality of theater on both sides of the footlights.

In addition to those pictured, I have also played the roles of:

  • The Announcer (voice-over) in Psychic Readings’ The Failures (2016-7)
  • The Old Man in Psychic Readings’ The Purple Flower (2015).
  • The Second Messenger in Two Suns Over Thebes, Annex Theater's adaptation of The Bacchae (2013).
  • Prologue/Sergeant/Porter/Old Man and Seyton in Annex Theater’s Macbeth (2013)
  • Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang in Annex’s UBIK (2012).

David's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.