I was among the ecstatic audience for the opening of Zorana Sadiq’s MixTape tonight at Crow’s Guloien Theatre.
Yes we’re thrilled to be back in a theatre, delighted to be looking at one another, guessing identities behind the masks. Was that Michael Mori, perhaps Allegra Fulton, or Chris Abraham? In any other city it might be trouble to perform such an oxymoronic ritual as this business of pulling out photo ID rendered meaningless by our face coverings. It’s a silly masquerade, joy overflowing, leading to a brilliant show.
The first half hour was full of big laughs, the audience drawn in by Zorana’s primal TED talk.
While I am completely fascinated by the phenomenon of the mixtape, that personal artifact curated from our shared culture: but this is so much more than that, as we soon discover.
Director Chris Abraham explained a bit about the creative process for the piece:
“As part of last year’s pandemic response, we welcomed artists at Crow’s Theatre to create new works and to develop them through a series of creation residencies. Like Cliff’s As You Like It, and several of our digital offerings this year, MixTape was developed as part of this new Multi-Platform Program.”
I think I discredit it to call it “performance”, when it seems so genuine, so authentically confessional. We’re exploring interconnected aspects of voice and sound and music, the body of the singer being the nexus. This investigation of live music-making and singing from first principles is the most natural place to resume theatre after the hiatus we’ve all been through. Anyone who sings or speaks on a stage will be drawn in irresistibly and enjoy the spirit of discovery & insight.
Is it ironic that the sound design for MixTape is live? Thomas Ryder Payne as sound designer and live sound operator dances on the edge of that interface between live sound and recording. We listen to an organic combination of Zorana and her many voices, the boom box onstage plus the subtle sounds coming from the P.A. that couldn’t possibly be put onto a tape, at least not if it was going to properly respond to the living voice. The sounds (not sure if I should call it a “score”) enact that ideal of being so minimal, so understated as to be subliminal, gently supporting Zorana’s every nuance, virtually unnoticed as a subtle background.
I experienced a few epiphanies. While I avoid spoilers I must quote one at least. I loved hearing Zorana say that the shout is a weaponized use of the voice. A shout can hurt the instrument as much as it hurts the ear of the listener.
It should go without saying that singers aren’t just vehicles for music. The music that moves us moves them too, and all that emotion can get in the way of the process. They are their own instrument, the curator of their music and their own audience.
What does a child hear in the womb and what is the effect?
Zorana submits to a fearless self-examination, in this work that she has been developing for years. She is both the performer and the specimen, both doctor and patient, sometimes opened up for us to discover what’s inside. And she even gives you her playlist afterwards.