Baba Yaga: Scoring the Story

5 Oct ’23

Discover how composer Patrick Dineen wrote the fantastic score for Baba Yaga.

What is your role in the production of Baba Yaga?
I am the composer.

What does that mean in terms of your contribution to the show?
This means I have written all the music for the show. I have created a score to support and express the story of the Baba Yaga. This involves reading the play a lot, discussions with the director, time in rehearsals watching the actors, seeing the set and seeing how the story is developing both in terms of its content and its style. Then I go away to write the musical score. In this production, it has also involved research into East European folk music, and working with local schoolchildren and the Theatre Porto Youth group to help create singing which is then recorded and used as part of the show and writing the rhymes you will hear sung. The music is then tried out in rehearsals and shaped and edited to support the story and the director’s interpretation of it. Because I have a little studio at home, I have a ‘virtual orchestra” which means I am able to create the sound of an orchestra, in fact with digital technology, almost anything you imagine hearing can be created now.  Sound has a profound effect on us and can quickly make us feel sad happy frightened and so forth, actors can play out that feeling, composers can create a sound world in which that can happen.

Ultimately, the job of a composer is to help tell the story and write music that connects with the audience so as to help create a full emotional experience for them.

What is your favourite part of the show?
Difficult to say, so many moments, but I would say the scene late at night when the girl cannot sleep and secretly watches the Baba Yaga. This is my favourite part because it is dark and emotional and sheds a different light on the Baba Yaga and makes us see how the Baba Yaga is a complex creature with more than one side to her. It also has a very mysterious quality to it.

What do you hope audiences will experience when they come to see the show?

I hope they will experience a rich dark fairy tale that has been around for centuries in Eastern  Europe and Russia – and be immersed in its mystery and magic – and when they see this production, they will become fully engaged with it in every way and have a heightened experience in the world of the Baba Yaga.

Why do you think this is an important story for children and families now?
I think fairy tales will always be important, they have been with us for centuries. The stories are fantastical and mysterious, filled with strange creatures that inhabit other worlds and have magical spells. They are essentially warning tales.

This story matters because it is a universal tale, where the characters ignore the warning as the beginning (which they must do otherwise there would be no story!) and there are potentially dire consequences. This story is also important because it tells us not to rush into situations that are potentially precarious and also…. that people are not always what they seem. (!)


(Main image photo credit: Mark Savage)