Technology, Performance, Storytelling.

Lights Out Damn'd Spot

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Lights Out Damn'd Spot: Concept

Lights Out Damn’d Spot was a production of Macbeth presented in complete darkness. Five actors created “live radio in the dark,” evoking over thirty characters and an array of physical environments with only voices and live sound effects.

The intention was for audience members to focus on the richness of Shakespeare’s language without the distraction of visual interpretive choices such as lighting, set and costume design. Additionally, the darkness played on Macbeth’s themes of fear, illusion, opposition and the frightening power of the imagination.

Lights Out Damn’d Spot was generously supported by the Stanford Arts Institute’s Mash-Up Grant, provided to artistic pieces which combine two or more contrasting media. We combined an emphasis on orality and sound design from radio with the craft of live theater to develop a unique and deeply gripping form of storytelling.

Sound Design

The sound of Lights Out Damn’d Spot took three forms:

First, the live voices of five actors. As lines were spoken and picked up by four microphones in the room, reverb was added in real time to give the room the illusion of different environments: an echo-y banquet hall, a stone chamber, or an outdoor field.

Second, foley effects created by the actors, including the sharpening of knives, the rattling and knocking of witches, the sound of dinner guests’ clinking silverware, etc.

Third, a three-dimensional soundscape playing from over twenty-five speakers surrounding the audience: above, below and 360o around. Sounds like a slamming door or the clash of swords were highly localized in the room; background ambience like battlefield cries or crickets filled the entire space. This was made possible by the auditory capabilities of The Listening Room in Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music & Acoustics (CCRMA). 

CCRMA’S Listening Room with 360-degree speaker array

CCRMA’S Listening Room with 360-degree speaker array

May 7-10 2015
Directed by Weston Gaylord
Cast: Dante Belletti, Adi Chang, Weston Gaylord, Audrey Moyce, Nora Tjossem
Sound Design: Joel Chapman

This project was generously supported by the Stanford Arts Institute Mashup Grant. 

Lights Out  setup before blackout, with audience seated at the center

Lights Out setup before blackout, with audience seated at the center

PRESS: "Who's Afraid of the Dark?" by Benina Stern, Stanford Arts Review, May 11th 2015. 
"A passionate understanding of the text and a verve for character work...I did not I did not realize the imagery would come to life more in the absence of sight."