By Maia Rabenold
Barefoot in rags and corsets, three witches with tangled hair danced across the stage to the sound of thunder, wind and clicking sticks.
These sounds of the outdoors will be brought to the Wells-Metz Theatre for IU Theatre’s production of “Macbeth.”
Composer Kimberly Osberg, a second year graduate student in music composition, selected and arranged every sound that will be heard in the show. Most of her work began when she tried the sounds she had been working on in the real setting of the play.
“What I try to do is use my musical materials to create a sound world,” Osberg said. “I try to take very simple, understandable things, like drum sounds and voice sounds and the sounds of bird and use that as the vernacular for the play. Then the music and the play come together, and the music can be another character.”
Using sound to immerse the audience in the story is something Shakespeare would have wanted to do if he had the technology, Osberg said. Osberg has done this by placing speakers above, below, behind and around the audience to fully surround them.
Instead of a traditional stage with all seats facing one side of the room, the stage is set up with seats facing it from all sides. This setup allows the audience to experience not just the play, but each others’ reactions, said director David Kote, a third-year graduate student in the theater department.
“It’s almost like you’re inside of the play,” Kote said. “You’re not just coming to watch it, and there’s a fourth wall between you and the actors. You feel like you’re experiencing it with the actors.”
Kote, who comes from an ensemble acting background, said the biggest challenge has been bringing something fresh and new to a play that has been performed for over 400 years.
“To me, it’s the perfect play,” Kote said. “It’s a wonderful play to handle just because of the richness of it. It has magic, it’s steeped in love and ambition. It has all of the things that great plays have.”
Osberg and the sound designer will be working until opening morning and making sure each speaker is in the correct place and each sound comes out at the right position.
Everything has to be perfect to fully immerse the audience and to create an experience that will be incomparable, Osberg said.
“Sound is constantly around us,” Osberg said. “What sound is able to do is to bring you into a space where you feel like this could be happening in real life. It lets you get lost in what’s going on.”
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The IU Auditorium, the Jacobs School of Music and MidWay Music Speaks were all awarded funds.
Performances will take place on Zoom.
The concert airs at 9:30 p.m. on July 25.