Friday, May 20, 2016
Technically Speaking with...Nathan Leigh
Hometown: Newton, MA
Favorite Credits: The Convert (Central Square Theatre, 2016), Mother Hicks (Emerson College, 2015), Sealand The Musical (#Serials@TheFlea, 2011 - 2012)
Why theater?: Theatre, at its best, has the power to tell stories that shift an audience's perceptions, and force them to think and feel in new ways. It can make the intimate feel universal in ways no other medium can truly accomplish. At it's worst, it's one of the few quiet places in New York where you can get a decent nap in.
What is your role on Prospect?: Sound Design and Original Music
Tell us about Prospect: Prospect is a play set in the 80's about worlds and communities colliding over the space of one drug-fueled night. It's about the lengths we go to disconnect from ourselves and each other and our own histories.
What is inspiring your design of Prospect?: 80's underground club music is the big thing I've been listening to. This was the dawn of electronic dance, so there's a joy and a weirdness to that music as producers were figuring out what you could do with synths and drum machines on a shoe-string budget. As a result the music has a lot of personality and idiosyncrasies that are often absent from modern EDM, and serve as a great way to access this story that starts with a night out at the club and gets progressively hazier.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like a story I haven't heard before. I like stories that aren't afraid to make you a little uncomfortable. But mostly I like stories that have something to say about the society we live in, and push audiences to consider a perspective they might not have before. I do a lot of work as an activist, and the thing that I find hardest in that world is conveying the shades of gray around major social issues. Theatre is better than just about any other medium at articulating those inarticulatable shades of gray.
What makes a design “successful”?: A design is usually most successful if the audience doesn't really notice how complicated it is.
How do you approach your work individually and collaboratively?: I like to think on my toes. Usually I'll spend my time before tech collecting raw material and scraps of ideas that can be quickly assembled, rather than walking into tech with a fully polished completed sound design. This lets my work be more in conversation with the other design elements in real time. Lighting and sound work so closely together, that the more we can be bouncing off of each other during the tech process, usually the stronger both designs end up being in the end. When you walk into a room with a finished and polished piece of music that's exactly 34 seconds long and can't be longer or shorter you're not really collaborating.
What is your favorite part about the collaboration process?: My favorite part of the collaborative process is that moment when you've had an idea you're excited about and someone else presents a totally different idea that you had never thought of and is actually way better than yours.
If you could design any play or musical you’ve yet to design, what would it be?: Revolt of the Beavers would be fun to play around with.
What’s up next?: I'm musical directing a production of Girlfriend at Wellfleet Harbor Actor's Theatre and releasing my next solo album titled Ordinary Eternal Machinery.
Boundless Theatre Company will present the New York Premiere of Octavio Solis’ PROSPECT, directed by Elena Araoz at Teatro Circulo (64 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery), May 19-June 5. Tickets ($18) are available online at www.boundlesstheatre.org
For more on Nathan, visit www.nathanleigh.net