Sound Designer Ishii Wins Ovation Award for ‘Awake’; ‘Extraordinary Chambers’ Leaves Empty-Handed

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Rafu Staff Report

Alyssa Ishii won in the Sound Design-Intimate Theatre category for “Awake” (Bootleg Theater) at the LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, which were presented Monday at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.

Alyssa Ishii with "Awake" writer/performer Joe Hernandez-Kolski

“It was such an honor to win the Ovation Award … This award means so much to me and is a great ‘welcome’ to designing in the Los Angeles theater community,” Ishii said. “I’m thankful for everyone who watched ‘Awake,’ voted for my design, and to my family and friends who have supported me through the years.”

Ishii works on sound design/mixing for theater as well as post-production sound for film. She received both her MFA in theatrical sound design and BA in ICAM (interdisciplinary computing in the arts) music from UC San Diego.

During her time in San Diego, she worked on many productions, including “The Revengers Tragedy” with the La Jolla Playhouse’s artistic director, Christopher Ashley, “Blurred Borders” with choreographer Patricia Rincon, “Ruins True” with director Gabor Tompa and composer Shahrokh Yadegari, and a variety of plays with UCSD’s MFA actors and designers.

“Awake” was written and performed by Joe Hernandez-Kolski, and directed and developed by Benjamin Byron Davis. LA Weekly said that Ishii’s sound design “helps the show seem to float on air.”

The play takes an in-depth look into the playwright’s psyche as he struggles with the typical signs of being a single man: the breakups, the career choices, and the bittersweet realization that life is tough, unpredictable, and sometimes unfair. The work unfolds as he is thrown a proverbial curve ball — his mother gets sick and ultimately passes on. He must take the challenges that life gives him and defeat the negative voices in his head.

The Geffen Playhouse’s production of “Extraordinary Chambers,” a play about the genocide in Cambodia, received five nominations but was shut out.

Cast members Greg Watanabe and Francois Chau were nominated in the Featured Actor in a Play category. The award went to Henry Dittman for “Watson — The Last Great Tale of the Legendary Sherlock Holmes” (Sacred Fools Theatre Company).

Alyssa Ishii on the red carpet.

“Many thanks for the words of support and congratulations,” Watanabe said in a Facebook post. “For me, it is another opportunity to express my gratitude for the opportunity to work on ‘Extraordinary Chambers,’ and how much I really appreciate all the people I got to work with! A special thanks to David Wiener for the beautiful play and for being such a fierce advocate for me over the course of workshops and the Geffen world premiere production.”

Weiner was nominated for Playwriting for an Original Play. The award went to Stefan Marks for “Hello” (Crooked Arrow Productions).

Vincent Olivieri of “Extraordinary Chambers” was nominated for Sound Design-Large Theatre. The award went to Joshua Horvath for “Venice” (Center Theatre Group: Kirk Douglas Theatre).

“Extraordinary Chambers” was also nominated for Best Play-Large Theatre. The award went to “A Raisin in the Sun” (Ebony Repertory Theatre).

East West Players’ “Krunk Fu Battle Battle” was nominated in the categories of Choreography (Jason Chong) and Lighting Design-Large Theatre (Dan Weingarten). The awards went to, respectively, Cate Caplin for “Fascinating Rhythms” (Rubicon Theatre Company) and David Weiner for “Venice.”

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