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Chavez Ravine: An LA Ghost Story


April 12 - 21 2024


Sanctuary Theater


USC School of Dramatic Arts


Edgar Landa

Music Direction

Al Sgro

Sound Design

Amelia Anello

Lighting Design

Jace Smolansky

Scenic Design

Aarti Patel

Costume Design

Maya Channer & Ellie Hermann

Production Stage Manager

Lexi Cruz

Technical Director

Duncan Mahoney

Associate Sound Designer & Production Engineer

Marcus Maia


Selma Elbalalesy, Abigail Kim

To open the mainstage theatre in the School of Dramatic Arts’ new home, we are proud to present: Chavez Ravine: An L.A. Ghost Story. This biting comedy focuses on Los Angeles’ most contested piece of land, the thriving community that resided there, the forces that led to its destruction after an affordable housing project was tanked due to the Red Scare of the 1950s and the eventual sale of the land to the Brooklyn Dodgers when they were looking to make a move West. Written and originally performed by the legendary Chicano performance trio Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza), this hilarious and poignant ghost story honors the pasts that continue to haunt the City of Angels.

A fantastic show to end my college design career with. This show was challenging in all the right ways, and resulted in something I am extremely proud of. Chavez Ravine was the first show in the USC School of Dramatic Arts’ new building, in the freshly-remodeled Sanctuary Theater. Starting out life as a church, this space created some unique and interesting challenges, including a lot of guesswork about what in the building was functioning. Production started several months before the building officially opened, so we were interfacing with contractors while loading in and communicating with the school about what we were allowed to do as far as load in and when we could do it. The show is very demanding from a sound perspective, featuring an onstage band and a whole lot of sound effects, including baseball stadiums with full games going on, courtrooms, and a multitude of comedy effects.

The band was made up of keys, a trumpet, a violin, a flute, a percussion, an acoustic guitar, and an electric bass. These instruments, plus a whole gaggle of Foley and percussion toys, were shared by six musicians, three of which (violinist, flutist, and trumpet) rotated on the keyboard.
The main concept for the sound design was to merge the live music performed by the band as seamlessly as possible to the playback music and other sound effects. The band was performing Foley as well, and along with the several live mics, in the form of wired period mics on stands moved around by actors and two scenes involving wireless body packs. I really love manipulating vocal performances and creating environments combining those effects with sound effects to build the world of the play. With speaker placement, I was able to combine the live with the playback in a way that I was incredibly happy with.

Tuning this system, with speakers I had never used, in a building never used for theater before, was an experience, and it ended up sound much better than I thought it would in a space that was a church, and still had the acoustics of a church. Band rehearsal really locked those feelings in, and my engineer/associate designer, Marcus, really mixed the show well and in a way that was true to the design.

This show was truly the culmination of my time as a student at USC, and I couldn't be any prouder of the way it turned out!

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