Gina Scaccia recently produced “Cartoonespeare,” a musical CD and an animated DVD interpreting Shakespeare’s sonnets.
The music is extraordinary; the styles vary from lyrical melodies, to monk-like chants, to country, folk, rap and blues. The musical concepts make Shakespeare’s language accessible to the most modern of audiences.
“Cartoonespeare” originated with “Love’s Not Time’s Fool,” which were wonderfully diverse theatrical interpretations of Shakespeare’s sonnets performed last spring at Rogue Community College, adapted and directed by Ron Danko and produced by John Cole.
Scaccia received her music degree from Southern Oregon University this year. Most recently she composed and performed the music for “Larry’s Best Friend” at Ashland Contemporary Theatre. We visited over tea one afternoon.
EH: How did you produce the music for Shakespeare’s sonnets?
GS: I’ve always been involved in theater but “Love’s Not Time’s Fool” was my first solo musical direction. Composing and being in charge of all of the music was a blast.
EH: What was your process?
GS: I wrote most of them on guitar. I just felt the rhythm of the words, and I listened in my own head to what I think the music should sound like. I used a little digital recorder, and I would keep recording. I have all those recordings, the evolution of each one of the sonnets; it’s really interesting to hear how they evolved. Once I found the rhythm of the sonnets, it was just like an avalanche. And then I wanted to write more and more. I still want to write more music for Shakespeare’s sonnets.
EH: What is it about theater that is so enticing?
GS: Theater is one area that I really didn’t see myself being involved in. Going through Southern Oregon University, I thought I was going to compose music and be a singer/songwriter. Then I got the invite from Ron Danko for “Love’s Not Time’s Fool,” and I got pulled into the theater scene. And all of a sudden I’m absolutely addicted to it.
I don’t know if it is because we crazy artist types work better with deadlines and pressure, and the pressure almost squeezes the art out of us. Some people are addicted to jumping out of airplanes and skiing down mountains. I think it’s an adrenaline rush, and it’s a good, healthy one. One that it doesn’t matter if your parachute doesn’t open. But it does feel dangerous, even though it’s not a big deal if you miss a line, or if I miss a cue, and I play the wrong music here and there. It’s really not a big deal, but in your mind. I think creative people are perfectionists in general, and so we put that self-pressure on. It’s an intensity.
And there’s the addictive quality of the sound of applause, being a show-off and being a ham, wanting to be the big fish in the little pond. I think it’s a combination of all those things. I just love it. And plus I love to share my art. Theater is an art; and obviously actors want to share their art. Then there’s the teamwork portion of it. You have your little backstage head-butting here and there. But in general, it’s a family. It’s a team. It’s very addictive. And now I just want to be more involved in theater. Having the ability to play the music live is so much fun. I have to stay on top of the actors. Live sound-tracking like that is just amazing.