Yale alumni Calista Small ’14, Jeremy Weiss ’15 and Max Sauberman ’18 are working on a multimedia project called “The Wandering” — inspired by the music of German Romantic composer Franz Schubert.
Small, Weiss and Sauberman designed and produced “The Wandering” as neither an in-person experience nor a live-streamed performance. Rather, it includes a visual album comprising a film and soundtrack, an augmented reality exploration, physical art and other interactive elements. The three received a grant for their project from the Schwarzman Center last November, and the show will open in mid-April. Lara Panah Izadi ’14, Christine Shaw ’14, Charlotte McCurdy ’13, Zach Bell ’14, Sahil Gupta ’17, TanTan Wang ’20 and Daniel Rigberg ’15 are a part of the project as well.
“‘The Wandering’ is a new immersive art piece designed to be consumed at home,” Sauberman said. “We’ve sought to aestheticize Schubert’s art song visually but also thematically, guiding audience members through experiences both tangible and conceptual that align with our mission of creating emotional ties across distance.”
Weiss, who credits Schubert as his inspiration to pursue classical music, is the album’s featured vocalist. In fact, the idea for “The Wandering” initially emerged from Weiss’ plans to perform Schubert’s music on Zoom post-pandemic. But when he started rehearsing, he realized that audiences were tired of watching music performed on Zoom.
“This is going to be so boring for everyone involved,” Weiss recalled thinking. “No one, not even my family is going to want to watch me sing Schubert for an hour over Zoom. So I started thinking about ways that we could innovate.”
Weiss then got together with Small and Sauberman. The producers decided to supplement Schubert’s music with a series of 10-minute-long filmed episodes. Replicating the format of live performance, the films cannot be paused and must be watched from beginning to end. Viewers can choose when to watch each film, as the show is made to be experienced over four days.
The show opens on April 15, but in the weeks before then, it will undergo “workshopping” — a process in which students will experience the show and then give feedback — through the Schwarzman Center.
Earlier this year, the Schwarzman Center sent out a call for 20 students to participate in workshopping the show. These students will experience “The Wandering” before its release and meet with the producers to discuss the show and provide feedback. In return, the show’s producers will give the students suggestions on their own work. The deadline for students to sign up is Friday, March 5.
Small said the film’s storyline is inspired by a letter Schubert wrote to his close friend and possible lover Franz Schober in 1822 titled “My Dream.” In this letter, Schubert says, “When I would sing of love, it turned to pain. And again, when I would sing of pain, it turned to love. Thus love and pain divided me.”
The story combines realistic and dream-like elements. Small said the main premise follows a character who wanders into a “World of Prism,” where white light is refracted into color and rainbow and “all characters are their most colorful selves.”
The films also thematically reflect Schubert’s lyrics. The visual album features Schubert’s art song — a type of music written for one singer with piano accompaniment.
Weiss said that a German word that appears frequently in his art song is “wunderlich,” which directly translates to “strange” but more accurately means “wondrous strange.”
“We started thinking about why we often label things that are ‘wondrous strange’ as just strange or different, and how we can learn to see wonder in what’s different from us in the world around us,” Weiss said.
In addition to the visual album, “The Wandering” includes aspects of augmented reality. Audiences are encouraged to engage with the films’ themes on a webpage they can access with a password.
“You get to return back to it and think about it and listen to the music again and do these activities,” Small said. “That’s very, very unique and I’ve never seen that happen in theater before.”
Undergraduates who sign up for a ticket to “The Wandering” through their residential colleges will be able to experience the full show at no cost.
Marisol Carty | email@example.com
Update, Mar. 2: This story has been updated to include a full list of Yale alumni working on The Wandering.