Dry Land focuses on strong, young female characters and is a very empowering story about young women. With this in mind, I decided that most of the artists used for the music should be young female artists. This creates a better connection between the music, the characters, and the play itself. Since, most of the potential demographic that would be seeing this show are undergraduate college students, I decided to find songs within the years 2016 to 2019. This is because since the play takes place in high school, set in the present, I wanted to pick a time in which at one point every undergrad student watching the show was in High School. So if you are a senior chances are you just left high school in 2016, and if you’re a freshman, you most likely just left high school in 2019. This was to create a connection between them and the setting of the play. I wanted to bring them back to when they themselves were in high school so that they could relate more to these characters.
I then created this sense of change throughout the play, that the music itself was changing and “maturing” along with the characters. So, at the beginning and primarily through Act 1, the music is primarily Pop music. Then, once Act 2 starts, the music starts to shift when elements of rock start being introduced, until it completely shifts into Pop Rock. The goal was for the music to discover itself, grow and change, just like Ester and Amy. By the end of the show, the music is completely different then what it was when it started its journey. The reason I chose Pop music as a start and indie rock as a finish was because these genres of music are the most popular genres among teenage girls in the years I mentioned above. All these elements together created a dynamic design in which the music became its own character which matures along with the characters, while still having an underlying structure that keeps it together.
Pre show Music
For Preshow, I wanted it to follow the same Pop music to indie rock arc that the music will take throughout the show, just on a less noticeable scale. The music starts with pop and then gradually over the course of Pre-show, becomes Pop Rock, just like it will do during the show. The songs you will hear are in the same order that they were for the show. Short clips of each song used can be heard below.
Transition From Preshow to Scene 1
"Pretty Girl" functions as a power anthem for young women. It starts us off with this energetic jump into the story by letting us know that these girls we’re about to meet are deep, complex and are more than they are on the surface. It’s also one of the older songs, coming out in 2016. This helps take a majority of the audience, who are undergraduate college students, back to when they were either in high school or fresh out of high school.
Transition from Scene 1 to 2
The almost overly repetitive nature of "Grown Up", in lyrics, bassline, and melody represent Amy’s life. Amy is feeling trapped in the repetitiveness of school and her everyday life. The lyrics help tell the story that she is having to grow up quickly because of her unwanted pregnancy. She's having to grow up much faster than her peers, and I feel like this song perfectly fits her current mindset. She doesn’t want to grow up like this, but she must if she wants to keep going.
Transition from Scene 2 to 3
Immediately before the transition Amy has the line “I think I can hear its heart beating”. When I read that I knew I wanted the next song to use a heartbeat in some way. Hearing the heartbeat pulls us into Amy's mind, we are hearing what she hears. Is the heartbeat real? Or is she hearing things. Another thing this song accomplishes is introduce us to Reba, since the next scene is the first time we see Reba. Reba is the vibrant one of the group as seen by her clothing and personality, so I wanted the music to match her as much as possible.
Bathroom Sounds (Scene 3)
During scene 3, Reba gets up and goes to the bathroom, leaving Amy alone. Amy then has a moment where she pulls out a pregnancy test. She has a moment where she considers telling Reba she's pregnant but decides against it when Reba comes back. To create the effects, I placed a microphone in my bathroom and then proceeded to go to the bathroom. I then got rid of the background noise in Audacity and then put it through a low pass filter to make it slightly muffled.
Transition from Scene 3 to 4
I picked "Swimming Pools" for this transition because while even though the song is a bit on the nose for what's happening in the transition, the lyrics tell a much darker story. The story of someone drinking to drown out their sorrows and feel alive. It’s even darker when you realize the real reason Amy is drinking. Even with this darker undertone, the overall euphoric and partylike atmosphere masks the darker undertones of the song and creates an overall positive tone for the scene in the beginning even though it ends in a very tense confrontation between Amy and Ester.
Transition from Scene 4 to 5
In the previous scene, Ester has finally started to somewhat stand up for herself to Amy's dismay. We can feel the tension between them as the scene ends and the transition starts. I wanted to carry that tension through to the next scene with a song with a more hard-hitting tone and aggressive feel. "Crash & Burn" also evokes a kind of loneliness as we start to drift into Esters mind. The songs lyrics help tell us that Ester is feeling alone and is trying her best to be friends with Amy, but eventually their relationship will be put to the test in the next scene. The title itself I feel is also a slight foreshadow to what's to come.
For Intermission, since we just came off a very intense confrontation between Amy and Ester, I wanted to choose music that had an aggressive tone and more of a driving force. I wanted to keep the audience aware of what had just happened. The music also in a way brings us into Esters mind going into the next Act of the play and her attitude towards Amy going forward. She's frustrated, but still cares for Amy, even if she doesn’t show it. The songs you will hear are in the same order they were for the show.
Transition from Intermission to Scene 6
Since we have now transitioned into the second half of the show, I wanted to immediately distinguish that the tone is going to shift. We now are starting to hear rock creep its way into the musical profile. The reason for this is now that Ester is away from Amy, she is starting to figure out who she truly is, and so is the music. The melody and tone of Motion Sickness have this feeling of longing, yet the lyrics tell a story of distraught. Ester is in someway dealing with “Emotional motion sickness” she has so much bottled inside, yet she doesn’t know what to do with it.
Sex Sounds/Humming (Scene 6)
During scene 6, Victors roommate is rudely having sex, keeping him out of his room and leaving him and Ester in the hallway in an awkward situation. To make it sound like the sounds were coming from behind the door (and make it even more awkward) I had the sound only come out of the speaker that was placed behind the door, and I put the effect through 3 low pass filters in Audacity to create a muffled quality. The humming effect was created because Victor has the line “She likes to sing afterwards… like hum him songs. Its really weird.” so the director thought it would only be appropriate to have it play after the sex sounds were over. My Assistant created the humming sound effect.
Transition from Scene 6 to 7 Part 1
"Guys My Age" is the most hard hitting of all the songs. It really encapsulates how Ester is feeling. She's regained this drive and now has the courage to stand up for herself. After the scene with Victor and hearing about Amy from Victors stories, Ester is ready to go back and confront her. This song serves as a way to let us know that Ester is no longer the same person we met at the start of the show. She has grown and is ready to head straight into the fire.
Transition from Scene 6 to 7 Part 2
I wanted to create a sharp contrast to guys my age to bring us back into Amy's world. Amy is at her lowest point, and I wanted the song to reflect that. We return to the world of Pop if only for a brief moment. Throughout Act 1, the music mostly focused on Amy, and has been supporting her. However, in this moment I wanted the music to be brought down with her, almost as if it is giving up, and is ready to face the fire, just like Amy.
From the beginning, the director wanted a song during this scene, but only so that the audience could hear what the Janitor was listening to. After some tablework with the actor, we landed on "Babe I’m Gonna Leave You". It helped get across that the janitor is clearly much older. It in a way is a foreshadow of what's to come with Amy and Ester. Ester will eventually leave Amy at the end of the play. I thought using this underscore to tell a story while also using it as ambience would be interesting.
Transition from Scene 7 to 8
After following a classic rock song in the janitor scene, we now return to modern rock with "Me & My Dog". The song creates a haunting yet hopeful tone and slowly pulls the audience back in. After the previous scene and the shock it gave to the audience, I felt that this transition should help ease the audience back into the world and reassure them that all is ok. I describe this song as a warm reassuring hug from a close friend who's there to comfort you.
Transition from Scene 8 to 9
Its in this transition where the music has finally completed its journey. As Amy and Ester have matured and figured themselves out and its at this point where the both the characters and the music are in harmony. "Epitaph" brings warmth and closure to the stage and the audience. The music no longer represents Ester or Amy, it represents both of them. It’s at this point that the audience knows that Amy and Ester are truly friends. It creates this sense of a happy ending… at least for now.
Since we started with a power anthem for women, I only thought it necessary to end with a power anthem for women to bring us full circle. The show brings us into the life of young women and shows us the issues that unfortunately many of them face. Ending with "Most Girls" I feel reassures all women that they are valued for who they are. I felt that coming full circle with the music represents that this is only one of many stories and it’s a story that needs to be retold, as many times as necessary, until the message is heard loud and clear.
Director - Angel Lee
Stage Manager - Meredith Grimm-Howell
Asst. Stage Managers - Maddie Meyer & Maddie Stogsdill
Ester - Faith Nagel
Amy - Sam Bowman
Reba - Olivia Daehnke
Victor - Cole Flottman
Janitor - Wyatt Hensel
Photographer - Daniel Degenhardt
Videographer - Molly Garrison
Graphic Designer - Kayla Decker
Scenic Designer - Cameron Smith
Lighting Designer - Molly Garrison
Asst. Lighting Designers - Teegan Winkler & Max Richards
Costume Designer - Theresa Mae Dawson
Asst. Costume Designer - Clare Starkey
Hair & Makeup Designer - Jaime Bridges
Asst. Hair & Makeup Designer - Wendy Morfeld
Asst. Sound Designer - Addison McGrath
Props Designer - Kameron Boucher
Production Manager - Ann Rapp