The Nina Variations
By Steven Dietz
Belmont University
Spring 2021
Photo: Rick Malkin
Production Team
Director: Sean Martin
Stage Manager: Robin Carsner
Technical Director: Jerry Stratton
Lighting Design: Preston Cross
Costume Design: Zach Payne
Set & Props Design: Alexia Shiffer
Film Recording & Editing: AJ Gatrell and Mary Spaulding

This show is like a big second chance for Nina and Treplev from The Seagull. The star crossed lovers replay their final scene in 43 different variations to see if their fate would have played out differently. Our production took on a dark, memory play like atmosphere as we had the original Treplev and Nina watch as other versions of themselves played out the scenes, each set played by different performers. My goal as the sound designer was the break the wall between the variations and support a different mood for each one. The biggest divide was to have the variations be very dreamlike while the originals have lighter music, or no music at all.

My cues are almost all underscoring with one sound effect in the mix. These pieces are all pulled and I spent a lot of time in rehearsals playing different pieces to figure out the exact mood of that scene. The music was then all put in during post and I mixed and balanced the music with the dialogue.

The Nina Variations was a filmed play by Belmont University in an effort to still do productions while being masked and social distanced in a safe capacity. I helped record and sound design the show along with training students to assist in micing the actors and overseeing the recording process. It was filmed in a blackbox theatre and we used the Behringer x32 as an interface to record into ProTools.

Hopeful Theme

This particular variation pops up a few times throughout the show as Nina and Treplev keep referring back to her. She is supposed to be a younger, more hopeful version of Nina. She is the one variation that actual breaks the "wall" between the variations and the real characters. This Nina eventually becomes self aware and take ownership of her life. I pulled a lighter but still dreamlike piece of music to show that there is a chance that their fate could possibly be changed, but deep down, this is all still a variation.

Hope - Fair Frame
Nostromo - Alex Mason

Variation 29

This scene is one of the most unsettling in the show and one that is very different from all the rest. I wanted to raise the stakes even more by pulling a dark piece of music that builds as the variation Treplev gets closer to Nina. The point of this scene is to foreshadow some of the darker parts of Treplev's mind and what is to come.

Made on