Darron L West is designing the soundscape for McCarter’s production of Me, Myself & I. His McCarter productions include Crowns, Hamlet, The Bells, Miss Witherspoon and Stick Fly. A sound designer and company member of Anne Bogart’s SITI Company, his work for dance and theater has been heard in over 400 productions on and off-Broadway as well as nationally and internationally. Along with numerous nominations, his accolades for sound design include the 2006 Lortell and AUDELCO Awards, the 2004 and 2005 Henry Hewes Design Awards, a Princess Grace Award, a Village Voice Obie Award and an Entertainment Design Magazine EDDY Award. I asked him seven questions:
What’s your hometown?
I moved around quite a bit as a kid all over Kentucky, but I’d have to say the longest residence was nine years in Elizabethtown KY. So, I’d consider that my hometown.
What do you like most about being a sound designer?
The simple answer is being able to take an enormous love of music and literature and use that to help tell a story to a live audience in the moment. Also, every show is different and has different needs, so it keeps you on your toes. I come at every show with a very dramaturgical slant to the design, asking: What can the sound design do to help tell the story, where can it provide context, emotional clarity, etc.? This involves a great amount of research and interest, so the learning and research aspect is important to me in any project I do.
What’s on your iPod?
Too many to list here of course, but right now I’m digging on:
- Ryan Shaw—This is Ryan Shaw: He’s this young amazing soulful new singer in the mold of Wilson Picket.
- Purcell—Four Suites for Orchestra: I’m just in this Purcell kick lately; go figure.
- Radiohead—In Rainbows: It’s Radiohead! It’s brilliant! Nuff said.
- The Weakerthans—Reunion Tour: Great song writing with a tasty pop sheen from 4 witty Canadians.
- Matt Nathanson—Some Mad Hope: A favorite west coast singer songwriter. Buy it, you’ll love it, trust me I’m a professional.
- Esa-Pekka Salonen’s new recording of Rite of Spring with the LA Phil: The best recording yet of this ahead of it’s time Stravinsky piece.
- And of course always present are the full collections of The Old 97’s, Will Kimbrough, and the best band of all time XTC. Oh yeah - and first 3 REM albums and every podcast of WNYC’s Radiolab. Some things come and go but, those collections are always in there.
What do you love about Princeton?
In a word? (well 3 words actually) Princeton Record Exchange. One of the best vintage LP stores on the East Coast. The Monday morning day offs from working on the show you can always find me sitting in the aisle “bin diving” in the dollar record section. My record time (pun intended) is about 4 hours going through their amazing collection.
All that shopping of course works up an appetite, so after leaving with a sack of prized platters from the Record Exchange I always head down to PJ’s pancake house for a mid-day breakfast. A perfect day off in a perfectly adorable town.
If you were trapped on a desert island, and could only take one book, what would it be and why?
Hmmmmm, I’d have to say a book I always go back to and re-read again every few years is House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. It’s one that involves a lot of participation from the reader as it’s very much a puzzle in its construction. But, if you were going to drop me on the island tomorrow I would have to try to also sneak along the book that I’m currently devouring.:This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin. An amazing book by a music loving neuroscientist. When we’re listening to music, our brains are engaged in an enormously complex computational task—so complex that no man-made computers have yet been able to do anything nearly as sophisticated with sound—and this book breaks down what happens to us when we listen.
What was the first play you ever saw?
Growing up I was involved in a Youth Theater Program in KY and performed in many plays before I actually saw what I would call a professional production. It was a production of Macbeth at Actors Theater of Louisville, I was probably 7 maybe? It’s funny now when I think back on it because I know at the time I’m sure I didn’t understand all the layers that were going on in the production, but I still have many memories of what it felt like watching it.
What is your favorite thing so far about working on Me, Myself & I?
I’m still in the very early stages of the work right now and at the outset before we head into technical rehearsals I would have to say my favorite thing is getting to be back at McCarter and in a room with Emily Mann, who I just adore working with. It’s also a dream come true to get to be in a room with Albee and this amazing play. I came in on the train from New York for the first day of rehearsals and all I could think about was how lucky I was to get to be apart of the journey creating Me Myself & I. I honestly haven’t been this excited about starting a project in a very long time and I consider myself to be very lucky indeed.
Posted by Adam Immerwahr, Producing Associate at McCarter Theatre.