Part of director Adrienne Dandy's process for her upcoming show Sister Cities was getting into the characters' heads through their musical tastes. Here are some of her thoughts on the role of music in the production.
About the Sister City playlists
Early on in the process of this show, I developed several Spotify playlists. First, I created a pre-show playlist of songs from the year the show was set. Then I created a playlist for each character, based on some of the current theories around the meaning that the music of our teenaged years has on us throughout our lives.
For the character playlists, I was heavily influenced by the thinking in articles and videos that address the nostalgic kick we get from music from our teenaged years. There’s a theory that our musical taste is heavily influenced by the music that was popular when we were 13 and 14 years old. In my experience, that “hit of dopamine” effect they’re talking about extends into my university years. Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone by the Glass Tiger is probably objectively not a great song, but I still remember watching them sing it in concert. Vox by Sarah MacLachlan is a great song, and I can tell you where I was when I first heard it. It’s the music that hits us, makes us remember school dances, and (for those of us of a certain age) the music that we remember listening to the radio, waiting for it to come on so we could record a copy onto that mix tape. Of course, all of these things are filtered through our personalities. So each character’s playlist is influenced both by when they were born but also who they are.
I originally made the playlists as a way for each actor to connect with her character. However, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be releasing the sisters’ playlists, along with a couple of notes about each one. Get to know Carolina, Austin, Dallas, and Baltimore through the videos they watched on MTV and listened to on the radio.
We’re starting with Carolina, born in 1970 and coming of age in the halcyon days of legwarmers, the Iran Contra scandal, and Cyndi Lauper’s WWF phase. But it wasn’t all candy-coloured pop music; the 80s had an edge and layers; underneath that proper lawyer exterior, so does Carolina. The synth-driven new wave is in her soul. Check out Carolina’s playlist here on Spotify, or for the full MTV experience:
Austin was born in 1973. So was I. So it’s not surprising that this was the easiest list for me to compile. But Austin’s teenaged years were complicated by factors I didn’t have to deal with, and her attraction to songs of love and loss is reflected is probably what one would expect from a closeted teenager in upstate New York. You’ll see some overlap with Carolina’s list because the sisters are so close in age. Find Austin’s playlist on Spotify here or if don’t like installing apps on your phone:
Oh, Dallas. She was born in 1976 and coming of age as Reagan and Thatcher were bowing out of the halls of power and grunge burst out of the Pacific Northwest full of distortion and isolation. But not for our Dallas. Dallas is a safe player and her teenage years were relentlessly top 40, the type of songs that could be safely played at the (parochial) school dance. Who will save your soul, indeed. Dallas’ playlist is here on Spotify and here on YouTube:
Baltimore is the baby of the family. Born in 1980, as a teenager her president was Clinton (before we realized that he was maybe a bit handsy and definitely not woke). Her early years were much more influenced, however, by a driving need to prove to her sisters that she was grown up, too. Who among us hasn’t slapped on some Snoop Dogg to demonstrate our grown up creds? However, at some point, someone took her to Lilith Fair and her tastes changed. Check it out on Spotify or Youtube: