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Christine Jones: Set Design

"I possess a soft spot for Noah's writing. He wrote one of the first pieces for a theatre dear to my heart, Theatre for One. I have a soft spot for Vivienne Benesch too. She played the solo role in the exquisite monologue Noah wrote, Hands.

Their collaboration made a lasting impact on anyone who saw it. (Theatre for One is performed for one audience member at a time). Rejoining with Noah and Vivienne seemed fated, and the play itself reached in immediately to assert its place in my present.

Immediately, I had a vision of what I thought the design might be, not because Noah is prescriptive about what things should look like, but because the feelings his writing evokes are so personally nostalgic and universal at the same time that you can't help but be inspired. The play feels exceedingly intimate, though it spans a large swath of time and relationships. The primary goal of the scenic envelope is to put Ernestine at the very center and to make us feel like we are right here with her. That was the impetus of the design, the rest, like the cake she bakes, I would like to think, is atoms and stardust. We have all been floating distanced, and dancing in our Zoom grids, one foot in, one foot out, masks on, masks off, beginnings and endings. We were days away from installing the world of our play into the theatre when we went into lockdown. How many Marches ago? As time has passed, babies have been born, and we have lost loved ones. I am grateful to be returned to this present, this place, this play, these people, and with you, dear audience member." —Christine Jones, Set Design 

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Kate Hopgood: Original Music

"The original music for Birthday Candles was created around the idea that the universe, in all its beauty, is encompassed in the simplest of tasks: to bake a cake, to paint one’s nails, to see a play, to be in these moments of everyday acts of love. It is meant to be a reflection of the beauty of learning, as expressed in Billy’s piano works and amplification of lives touching one another as melodies. Simple as they may seem, these motives, these moments, work together inside the stories of all our lives to create a tapestry of memory that reverberates and binds us together through all existence." —Kate Hopgood, Original Music

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John Gromada: Sound Design

"Sound directly connects to one’s subconscious. As a designer, I am always trying to connect the story to the audience’s inner nervous system working through their ears and brains to amplify the emotional content of the play. That’s what I hope to do with my sound design for Birthday Candles. In this production, I’m going to try drawing from common kitchen objects and the sounds they make to put together a language for the play. I have a beautiful set of resonant cooking bowls I am experimenting with to come up with a language for the little transitional time shifts/tesseracts in the piece. Maybe we will hear these sounds live within the kitchen scenes as mundane sounds that then become part of the music of the play. I’m hoping to plant sonic seeds along the way, little fragments that will then coalesce into something larger for the metaphysical ending. We have spoken a lot about the ritual aspects of cooking and how it relates to the ritualistic structure of Birthday Candles. Much like Thornton Wilder celebrates and elevates the mundane in his writing, I hope to do this with sound. 

Also, it is my job to work with composer Kate Hopgood, helping her arrange, record and develop the musical score so that it works hand and hand with the sound design to tell the story of the play. I hope that it all adds up to you having a wonderful experience watching this beautiful work of theatre!" —John Gromada, Sound Design

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