In Sweet Land, the audience took on the role of the Arrivals, who have arrived onshore to meet another civilization, the Hosts. Guided through L.A. State Historic Park, audience members were separated into diverging tracks across the space to experience different storylines and perspectives. Starting as a procession through the LA State Historic Park, Sweet Land becomes an opera that erases itself.
The opera poses a question of American origin myth. As a creative team, we had to embrace the didactic direction and leave it open for interpretation. To a degree, we had to embrace the chaos and confusion of the unanswered question, ‘What is America?” The show was slated to run in March 2020, which was cut short due to the covid19 pandemic. However, the question of American identity echoed through civil uprisings in the next couple years and became more than ever timely.
Over the course of the opera, I wanted the video design to continually fade into evermore indistinct representations of history. The projections are almost like ghosts themselves, the video design is not solid. The projections don’t guide the story arc, but they do act as a unifying force. The video opens and ends the story but does not get into the specifics of the story. The audience only sees projections when the whole of them are together, not during their separate tracks.
“Sweet Land began in the scene called The Contact, where projections were displayed on a scrim surface, with a faint background of city lights seeping through. At The Crossroads, a mythical landscape, ghostly projections were displayed on water mist. The show concluded at the Boneyard for the final projections in the scene Echo and Expulsion, where the city environment itself was used as projection surfaces, including 360′ span of North Broadway Bridge facade, 40′ by 12′ billboard sign, abandoned piece of woods and plastics in the construction site nearby the park.”– excerpt from Live Design article
Los Angeles State Historic Park (site specific)
Composers – Raven Chacon and Du Yun
Libretto – Aja Couchois Duncan and Douglas Kearney
Director – Cannupa Hanska Luger and Yuval Sharon
Conductors – Marc Lowenstein and Jenny Wong
Scene Design – Tanya Orellana
Scene Design – Carlo Maghirang
Lighting Design – Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew
Costume Design – E.B. Brooks
Sound Design – Jody Elff
Media Design – Hana S. Kim
Photography – Casey Kringlen and Neil Matsumoto