Sophia's Forest
Sound Sculptures — Literal Mechanisms of Storytelling

Sophia’s Forest explores the effects of the immigrant experience on families, through the story of Sophia, a nine-year-old recent immigrant to the US. Sound is an important mechanism for the character of Sophia to process memory and grief, as she tries to understand the trauma of the escape from her homeland resulting in the death of her sister. Composer Lembit Beecher collaborated with the ExCITe Center at Drexel University to create nine electronically-controlled sound sculptures placed across the stage as literal mechanisms of sound and storytelling.

The sounds the sculptures create are a direct outgrowth of Sophia’s memories: bike wheels recall Sophia’s youthful adventures with her sister Emma, and wine glasses become a central part of her mother Anna’s coping once the family moves to America.

“We began with this idea of a child interacting with her imagination. That was the kernel, and we had to have some way to make that come alive,” shares Beecher. “When it’s all working, you get this hum, singers interacting with it, stage action going on.”

In preparation for Sophia’s Forest West Coast premiere, Beecher carefully calibrated, wrapped and packed up all nine sound sculptures with the help of OP Director of Production Tony Shayne who then transported them on a nearly 3000 mile journey from their home at Drexel University in Philadelphia to San Francisco.

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See and hear the sound sculptures in action