Emily Merten | Mustang News

Students in Sound Design and Production (MU 412) are gearing up for RSVP XXIII: Fatherland, running May 29 and 31 in the Performing Arts Center (PAC).

RSVP is not a concert, a play or a dance performance. It is a transmedia concert that uses different media elements — music, dance, costume, lighting — to convey a theme or a story.

“It’s not like watching a play where the story goes along and this happens to this character and that happens to another character,” music professor Antonio G. Barata said. “It’s almost like you’re watching a puzzle being put together through these scenes and art that makes suggestions.”

The annual show utilizes media to help the audience solve this puzzle. Without a traditional plot structure, the show leaves plenty of room for audience interpretation.

Sound design is a focus area within the Music Department, where students learn the skills and technology involved in creating music and sound effects. Barata, one of the founding fathers of the program over 20 years ago, teaches the Sound Design and Production class and writes a script for RSVP each year.

Barata presents the class with a script at the beginning of the quarter, and the students create all media elements involved. Each class is a production meeting; from the music, to costume design, to lighting to stage set up, the students bring the show to life.

Music senior and assistant director Tyler Stockton said each student brings an important perspective to the show.

“If you give the same scene to two different people, the outcome is going to be completely different,” Stockton said. “Just in terms of that, it’s incredible to see what people come up with.”

This year’s show, Fatherland, will tackle the question of belonging.

“We are trying to change the way people think about who and what they belong to,” Stockton said. “This year, we’ve been experiencing quite the social divide and political bipartisanship. Everyone seems to be very tense with each other. So this show puts into perspective what group and macro-society you believe you belong to and if you are actually a part of that society.”

The show begins with a mother with a newborn child. As the show progresses, it expands outward, analyzing one’s role within a town, within the world, and eventually beyond — to the cosmos.

Physics and music students alike enroll in Sound Design and Production to be a part of RSVP. They often come back, year after year.

“It is not unusual for someone to be in RSVP for multiple years,” Barata said. “They may not even get credit for it anymore, but they still want to be a part of it.”

The essence of Learn by Doing, the RSVP show gives students valued experience in music production from start to finish.

“Being a non-music major, it’s one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had from a class,” business administration senior Michaela Garr said. “I can use my business knowledge, but apply it to something I really want to do in the real world. It’s cool to see the possibilities when you mesh your two studies.”

The show will run May 29 and 31, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online and at the Performing Arts Center box office.

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