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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Drums in the Night: A Collaborative Process

  • Author(s): Chen, Melanie I.
  • Advisor(s): Yadegari, Shahrokh
  • et al.

The concept for Drums in the Night started with a painting by George Grosz as an inspiration for the last act of the play. It was important to create a soundscape that captured the chaos and brightness that was represented in the painting. Mixing voices that traveled with music that had been heard in previous acts, I experimented bringing the audience into Kragler's mind.

With this expressionistic final act in mind, we explored other moments of suspended realism. During the engagement celebration in Act 2, Anna screams in disbelief as Kragler stumbles into the bar. In this moment of confusion, the drunk party goers become rowdy. The chaos melts away into the background as the lovers become lost in each other. The bar atmosphere transforms into Charles Gounod's Ave Maria.

Anna recounts her nightmares when she believed that Kragler was dead. Kragler asks her to marry him. Before she can make a decision, they are abruptly interrupted. Ave

Maria disappears and the noise of the bar returns.

We added a prologue based on Brecht's Ballad of the Dead Soldier. It tells the story of a soldier who died early in the war. The government decides to dig up the body and re-enlist him to get their full worth of a soldier. I collaborated with the singing actor to create our own version. The soundscape had sounds of destruction layered with deep tones to suggest an ominous environment while the sad melody of the music was sung on top.

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