The Electra Project

Claire Trevor Theatre
University of California, Irvine
2015

Electra (Leslie Lank) unable to speak as the music of her inevitable fate beholds

Background

The Electra Project, based on Sophocles’ Electra, is a devised theater work conceived and directed by Mihai Maniutiu. Grupul Iza, a Romanian folk band led by Ioan Pop, wrote and performed original music for The Electra Project. This ancient Romanian folk music style remains only in a remote region on north-western Romania called Maramures, where isolation has preserved ancient traditions and rituals. The Electra Project draws comparisons between the culture of Maramures and ancient Greek perspectives by examining themes such as destiny, honor, revenge, greed, class disparity, and the pursuit of power.

Sound Design Concept

Our team incorporated a Meyer Sound VRAS system to perceptively change the acoustics of the auditorium to reflect the intensity of emotion in the characters. We combined this concept with bold reinforcement of the roaming band to keep the audience in lockstep with the hopelessness of Electra’s plight. We also built a massive, synthesized sound for a large pendulum – the single set piece in our show – that ominously loomed upstage of the characters. This omnipresent timepiece amplified and reflected the agitation of the characters as they drifted toward their fateful demises, and oftentimes, their deaths.

Sound System

The Team

Director: Mihai Maniutiu
Musical Director: Ioan Pop
Sound Designer: Brian Svoboda
Assistant Sound Designer: Andrea Allmond
Assistant Sound Designer: Kate Fechtig
Mix Engineer: Kelsi Halverson
Set Designer: Morgan Price
Lighting Designer: Martha Carter
Costume Designer: Julie Carr
Photography: Paul Kennedy

Sound Samples

For the best listening experience, please use high quality headphones or speakers. Audio files are in uncompressed WAV format.

The Pendulum Watches

by Brian Svoboda | The Electra Project

The wicked Clytemnestra intrudes on the sleeping vagrants of her kingdom to place a curse on Orestes as a symbol of her control over the enduring hopelessness of her people. Clytemnestra pays little attention to the ominous pendulum – a symbol that would eventually signal her death. We wanted the sound of the pendulum to have an entrancing and hypnotizing quality that felt both distant and omnipresent. In this scene, the pendulum symbolized the environment of oppression that kept the vagrants asleep and unaware of their oppressors.

The Vagrants Assemble

by Brian Svoboda | The Electra Project

Electra hurls knives to the ground, focusing her rage toward her mother and nemesis, Clytemnestra. The chorus of vagrants assembles into an angry mob that erupts into a song that is rowdy, sexual, and angry. They nearly kill Clytemnestra, but instead leave this duty to Electra, cheering her on as they live vicariously through her rage. As heard in this live recording, we made the sound environment energized and disorienting by elevating the volume of band mix and adding reverberation to the space. This calamity precisely paralleled Electra’s rage.

The Pendulum Kills

by Brian Svoboda | The Electra Project

The scene dramatically changes as Electra lifts a bloody sheet from a shopping cart, revealing her dead mother to Aegisthus, who falls to the ground in terror before being murdered himself. We changed the sound of the pendulum in this scene to have a pulsing characteristic that was louder and more invasive. It was the last thing Aegisthus heard before his death. As the mob of vengeful vagrants consumed Aegisthus, so did the massive sound of the pendulum. When coupled with live music, Aegisthus’ death became a cathartic closure to the play.

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