Piers Caldwell + SAÏAH /// Music + Theater

When it comes to composing music for theatrical experiences, I've been spoiled by the opportunities to work with the kind of bold and beautiful projects that Saïah dares to create and explore. Terminus marks my fourth collaboration with the team and the process of working with them is always new and intensely captivating. As with the previous scores I've written for Saïah, (2011's “City of Lions and Gods”, 2013's “Moby Dick” [with Irish composer and good friend Ian McCarthy] and 2013's Scoutmob installation “Shame”) the greatest challenge is that I am not based in Atlanta--(the music for Terminus was written and produced in Berlin whilst rehearsals continued in Atlanta). This means I am necessarily removed from being able to see the entire experience develop in real time.  In response I do what many actors do: I research the environment surrounding the text. Music tells the story of the time in which it was written from the tender perspective of the individual, as well as from the rallied voices of the people on the ground. It speaks to the human experience within, because of, and despite, historical and cultural events...just as great theatre does. The civil war was, of course, such a dense and intensely emotional point for America that the pain of war, loss, fear and yearning are all wonderfully encapsulated within the era's music.

When writing, I really spend more time thinking about the sonic environment of the show's universe than the compositions individually.

It is not only composition that tells the story: instrumentation speaks just as clearly. I begin by internalising how instruments and sounds can be used to capture social and cultural resonances and tell stories: from the mournful sounds of solo fiddle echoing lonesome family members and lovers left behind, or the sense of familial tether and the energy of life and love through the joyous plucking of a banjo. These are all written into our cultural and musical heritages. For Terminus I poured over the popular songs of the era (an unsurprising number of which were hymns), and once I had spent some time with the sounds, instrumentation, and compositions of the time, I set about exploring how these elements could inform a score that would support Marium's beautiful text with an ear for both the traditional, and the new. What came about  is just that really...the sound of yearning, pain, love, forgiveness, betrayal, and loss as imagined for these very beautiful characters, who have been so carefully illustrated within this rich backdrop of turmoil and uncertainty.



I think in this way, audiences experience much more than just an immersive sensual theatre experience: they feel the waves of emotional resonances that echo the congruences of human experience past and present. This realisation of unity with our past draws us closer not only to our ancestors, but to the people present in our lives now, and our own hopes and dreams for the future. This is what I adore and respect about working with Saïah: they allow for, and demand of, their collaborators to draw the 'innovative' from the intuitive and natural, and discover the story and passion of the truth. This is always the paramount objective from their gorgeous scripts, to the performances of their incredible actors, and the inspiring casts of truly talented multi-disciplined artists who get involved with each new work. I am genuinely humbled and delighted to have been a part of the fabric of Terminus.

- written by: Piers Caldwell

Piers Caldwell is Skwirl, a beatsmith/songwriter and (as the 'Shido' moniker) an ambient composer from the pastoral expanses of America's upper midwest and currently based in Berlin. His work is colourful and vivid, often cloaked in a haze of distant emotional memory, but with a dense and vibrant sonic palette. Never one to settle on genre bound definition, he produces music for the mind, body and soul; often bucking easily categorised aesthetics for an authentic and constantly evolving reflection of a multitude of musical influences from jazz to minimal techno, hip hop to ambient drone. 2014 is poised to be a big year for the up and coming producer, with an intense myriad of releases spanning his wildly varied sound currently in the works.