I first designed this production of Death of a Salesman with Theater Mitu back in 2008 at the Theater At the 14th Street Y. The production had a bit of a life after that: I went with it to the U.A.E. to present it at NYU Abu Dhabi, it was also performed at BYU in Utah. However, the company has always been focused on creating new work, so the show had its life and then was placed on the shelf...until the summer of 2017 when we brought it back for 8 performances only at BAM's Fisher Theater.
It's impossible to say which of my collaborations with Theater Mitu has been my favourite, but this one holds a special place in my heart. When Rubén and I first sat down to talk through the show, he explained to me that Willy, Linda, and Biff would be live actors. Happy (Willy's other son) would be a full-size rolling punching bag voiced by the puppeteer wearing a wireless mic. All the other characters would be puppeteered objects, with their lines recorded and played back. Rubén had already chosen who he wanted to voice which character, and the people he'd chosen lived all over the country (and a few international folks as well) It was going to be a massive undertaking to get everyone recorded! I ended up writing a long email to them all explaining how to open GarageBand and record themselves. The range in quality of recordings I received was...extensive - trucks rolling by, crying babies, air conditioners running in the background - all through cheap laptop microphones. The period-aesthetic of the show embraced the less-than-ideal recordings and I set to work dirtying them up in different ways so that each puppeteered object had its own identifiable aural character.
In addition to the voice-over characters in the show, there was also a live quartet which played a beautiful score written by Ellen Reid (re-arranged and re-orchestrated with Ada Westfall into a one-woman-band for the BAM production.)
Unlike other shows, it's not as informative to include clips from cues in the show. I made 900+ cues and I've got nothing to play for you! For the BAM production, Ellen and Ada arranged a short, 1 minute excerpt of music which I then layered some of the recorded voices over. Two friends, Adam and Chani, who have filmed a few Mitu shows now, then set some footage to the audio and created the trailer I've linked to below!
A few photos from the production. For more images, check out the gallery of my photos from the show here.