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House of Desires - Sound Design

Written by: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

- Ithaca College Clark Theatre Fall 2021

Directed by: Marc Gomes

Scenic Design: Hannah Sotnek

Costume Design: Olivia Kirschbaum

Lighting Design: Cora McKenna

Sound Design: Beth Truax

Composer: Nathaniel Finke

PSM: Zach De Brino

Photos Taken by Keegan Webber


My Team:

Sound Engineer: Stephen Griffin

Mix Engineer (A1): Molly Danieli

A2: Lavender Pyzowski

Mic Dressers: Joanna Albanese & Mia Brockington


House of Desires (also known as Los empeños de una casa) is a late 17th century farce written by the self-proclaimed "worst woman in the world" Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Set in the confusing Arellano house in Toledo, Spain, the play follows a cast of characters in a complicated tangle of love triangles as they try to defend not only their relationship status' but also honor when put in questionable circumstances.

Additionally, Sor Juana also weaves in a satirical commentary on the roles of men and women within the deeply patriarchal culture of Spain at the time.

 As a design team, we sought to explore how class systems oppress and restrict women from achieving certain goals, as well as show how these issues from the 17th century have aged into the 21st century while keeping the lightheartedness of comedia.


Along with a change in genre, over the course of the show we were also able to make the gradual change from playback guitar music to live guitar to further immerse the cast and audience.

The goal of the sound design was to incorporate the traditional music of 17th century Spain (Spanish Baroque) and transition into modern genres, elevate female voices (used in the curtain call), and support the world environment in its abstracted state.


The sound design for the show is grounded in the traditional Spanish Baroque Guitar music of the time. However, like the rest of the world of the show, it has also been moved into a more modern and timeless context.

This is most heard in the musical number of Day 2 Scene 5, an original composition and lyrical arrangement by fellow student Nate Finke. It takes the guitar heard throughout the show and mixes in a variety of modern genres such as swing blues, doo-wop, and a ballad.

Day 2 Scene 5 Song Pt 1Nate Finke (ft. House of Desires Ensemble)
00:00 / 05:16

The Process...

I started with a couple read throughs of the script and identifying the script locations and the original time period. For House of Desires, the show was originally written to be the late 17th century in Spain, the period music of the time being Spanish Baroque. After discussing with the director and the design team, we discussed the overarching themes and ideas we wanted to elevate in the overall design. We ended up landing in flexible time period, in which the original period is referenced but using contemporary elements. For sound, we looked into how we could incorporate the traditional sound (Spanish Baroque) in more modern genres (originally looking at a rock or hip-hop sound). This brought on the idea of some kind of fusion. We also were attracted to large usage of guitar that has been incorporated in Spanish music throughout time.

17th century Spanish Baroque Music

Traditional Baroque Guitar Techniques

Baroque Guitar Techniques on an Electric Guitar

Electric Baroque-Hip Hop Fusion

Flamenco Guitar Techniques on an Electric Guitar

Later on the inspiration of fusion was shared with the composer to work into Day Two Scene Five song with lyrics written by Sor Juana. In order to also build up from the base of period music throughout the show, the preshow music and transitions up until the original composition reveal were still in the traditional Spanish Guitar world. Once we learned we would be able to have a live guitarist in the cast, we also made a transition from playback guitar to live music after the composed song.

Spanish Guitar samples used for pre-show and transitions.

The system design is meant to be more presentational than immersive, since the audience is aware of their role as on lookers occasionally being addressed in the characters asides. It is made up of a main system with two main speakers (identical) covering the seating sections and a sub. Additionally, there is a smaller system of 6 surrounds that encompass the set both above and at ground level to provide environmental control, as well as a system in place to handle the microphone reinforcement. Due to time constraints the mic rigs were designed by Mixing Engineer Molly Danieli.

Paperwork Sample

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