Herakles: Gestural Surround Mixing for Real-Time Applications

In Orange Theatre’s unique multimedia reimagining of the play, live video and sound effects help tell the story of Euripides' Herakles, the famous hero who returns home from his adventures to save his family from a tyrant, only to be stricken by a madness that causes him to murder his wife and children. This new work incorporates contemporary texts, live music, and the company’s personal material into the original story, offering a striking, modern take on the age-old tragedy.

The design for Herakles I was born out of the Orange ensemble's need to break from the end-stage style of their last few works- which meant I had to redefine the auditory world Orange productions live in.

When an audience moves around a set- perspective shifts depending on where you were standing. The sound and media systems were designed to handle this problem of perspective. 18 screens and 32 individually addressed speakers lined the outer edge of the set, giving us the ability to send specific streams of audio and video to different groups of the audience around the venue.

I mixed the show in multiple mono streams that were processed through a custom Ambisonics patch in Max/MSP. This let me choose to address the speakers as point source or like a multi-channel array, where we could move any of the mono mixes like 3D sound objects in the space.

The content of the show was driven by our interest in using live foley to focus in on the emotional center of each character in the current moment. I would improvise and perform live foley along with a single performer, recording samples into Ableton Live to loop and layer as the action continued. In this way, I was able to create a rich, subtle, and human soundscape that helped pull and push the action as the show progressed.