As I Lay Dying (2011)

by William Faulkner

Adapted by Janice Fuller

Directed by Beth Homan

Based on William Faulkner's novel of the same name, this production took a look at the life of the Bundren family and their struggles with poverty and the task to bury their dead mother. Because much of the narrative is internal in the novel, we had to find a way to capture that in the production. My design used traditional 1920's and 30's delta blues instrumentation, but was affected with reverb and tempo shifts to show the switch between reality and the inner psyche. The contrast between diegetic sound effects and underscoring was what helped me to create the atmospheres I was hoping for. Instrumentation became essential in my process. While much of pre show intermission and post show utilized slide guitar, the underscoring for each character's inner psyche had a different instrument. Darl's instrument was the piano. Dewey Dell was violin. Addie was cello. These combined with other layering and effects helped to create the separation between reality and the minds of the characters. Another element I explored was compounding themes. When the buzzards first arrived, the track was one simple ominous note. Each time they returned a new note was added to the chord that created more dissonance. Finally, diegetic sound effects were layered over music to create reality and establish atmosphere. The Ford scene and the Fire scene are examples of this. Photos are by Sean Meyers Photography.

Opening

 

This was the opening track of the show. I wanted as song that helped to establish the poverty and grittiness of the world. By utilizing the Delta Blues style it gave a very distinct time and place.This acoustic slide guitar was performed by Aaron Alderman and recorded by myself. It is inspired by the opening of Paris,Texas by Ry Cooder.

You Could Do So Much For Me

 

One of the plots of As I Lay Dying is Dewey Dell's story. She was raped and became pregnant. When the family goes in to town she seeks an abortion. In this scene, she is discussing the rape and how it feels to have something growing inside of her. The track was slowed down by 25% to accentuate the natural bends in the pitch and make the music more unsettling. A Violin was used as Dewey Dell's instrument in a reflection of her being the most delicate and prim of the family.

Darl's Final Monologue

 

In the final moment's of the play Darl has a monologue where he finally descends into his madness. It is a dark moment and he is left alone. To underscore this moment I used a selection from Chopin's Raindrops in D flat major Op.28 No. 15. The song starts out light and pleasent and slowly warps and becomes ominous. This in addition to the actor's performance helped to demonstrate the deterioration of his mind. Darl's instrument was the piano because it ws seen as different from the other strings (the rest of the family).

Buzzards 1,2, 3 & 4

Another type of underscoring I utilized was reoccurring themes that built on one another. During the show there are several times where the family was surrounded by buzzards. Each time a new layer was added to create a discordant sound.

Cash & The Adze

This moment underscored a monologue by Cash, the eldest brother. He was methodical in his thinking so I used percussion as his instrument. During this moment Cash is describing how to build his mother's coffin. Because it is delivered so directly and rote the track was intended to help elevate the struggle in his mind.

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