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Vocal Direction for
New Normal
by Jonas Becker

I did vocal direction for this performance in its original iteration as a public intervention (2019) and its reorganization as a work for stage (2023), both at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago). 

About the work, from Becker: This 30 minute performance addresses the “new normal," a process of coping with and normalizing mass cultural trauma, whether political, environmental, or otherwise. We respond to the shifting baseline of our current moment through endurance and illusion, struggle and support. Some radical bodies resist normalization, and for others, the new normal is nothing new. This performance explores the way the body mediates this process, testing our limits, adjusting, and readjusting.

As vocal director, I composed medleys of pop music combined with American protest songs and folk music. I researched the cultural and historical contexts of each song and melody. I trained the cast, who had widely varying previous vocal experience, to sing these compositions a cappella, in multiple parts. I worked with the director to develop stage direction cues for the performance of the songs, including vocal preparations like filling the mouths of the performers with rocks during a song. I also perform as a vocalist as part of this work. 


Photo documentation of New Normal, 2024. Performers and photo credits listed below.


Pictured: Sami Ismat


Pictured: Ashaand Simone


Performers, from left to right: Me (Adrian Wood), Julian Otis, Ashaand Simone, Jean Wildest, Rain Drop, Iza Ransohoff. 


Photo credits for all photos on this page by Ricardo E Adame.


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