What's Happening

Shakespeare in Yosemite: musician Cathryn Flores

By Cymbeline Anthropocene on Aug 31, 2021 at 07:52 PM in Project News

While filming Imogen in the Wild, Shakespeare in Yosemite’s research assistant Monica Perales interviewed the cast and crew about their experience adapting Cymbeline. This fifth interview presents Monica in conversation with Cathryn Flores, who is a singer, songwriter, and composer for the production. Re-watch Cathryn’s original music video for “Earth’s Cry,” posted below, and read on to find out about her experience creating music for the show.

MP: What has been your involvement in this production?

CF: So I've been a singer, songwriter, and musician for two songs: one eco-anthem called "Earth's Cry" in the show, and I'm also a co-composer and songwriter for the finale song, "We Need You."


MP: Awesome. What is your personal experience with environmentalism and ecotheatre? 

CF: I started with Shakespeare in Yosemite in 2019 when I was a freshman at UC Merced. That was my first show performing in the middle of the wilderness in Yosemite National Park. I just felt a really deeper connection being able to play guitar and being with other musicians of the cast. That was my first kind of realization of what ecotheatre can mean for the future of music being performed in the wilderness.


MP:  I love that. Thank you. How do you think ecotheatrical productions can impact environmental consciousness in the cast, crew, and/or audience?

CF: I think, well, I'm actually going to be specific with my song, "Earth's Cry," because it was specifically written with university students and young adults in mind who are really passionate about climate change, but may not know how to really take action towards climate change. And so, juxtaposing different pictures of the cold winters and the burning fire seasons in California [in the music video] and having lyrics that coincide with those images can really help be a call to action to university students and young adults—really, to anybody who's interested in helping reduce climate change and helping reduce carbon emissions. So I think that having the music video like this, coinciding with Shakespearean productions and even lyricism, I think that that can be really important as a driving force to helping with reducing climate change.


MP: What do you hope viewers will take away from this particular production, or even specifically the music that you helped to create?

CF: It can help them become even an advocate for themselves, and to have more of a relationship with the pop music that I've implemented in the song "Earth's Cry." I hope that they can share it with different friends and family members that may be on the edge of not understanding what climate change really means. This song can help bridge other people who may be really uncomfortable talking about climate change: maybe they're able to sing the lyrics in the car, and just spread more advocacy towards this.


MP: Okay, so you said it can help sort of show people what climate change really means. Would you like to elaborate a little bit more on that?

CF: Yeah, it can show them that climate change can be in different forms. It can be in the changing seasons. It can be with the rising ocean levels. It can mean really different things [than you expect]. In the actual music video we have a dancer, we have different singers, such as myself, playing guitar in different locations, all across from Yosemite to the Bay Area to Los Angeles. So it's not in just one specific region of the world, or the United States, but it's in all different types of regions. So I think having that in the music video really illustrates how deep climate change could spread and that can help other viewers understand also.


MP: Thank you. What has been a highlight of your involvement with this production?

CF: Really the collaborative factor, because we were all in different stages. Like I said, we were all in different places: I live in the San Francisco Bay area, but I was able to collaborate with others who live in Yosemite National Park and in Los Angeles and even as far as the East Coast. Being able to collaborate with them has been a highlight, and being able to bring everybody's talents together: their musical composition or their lyricism or their dancing and choreography. That's really been the highlight of this experience for sure.


MP: The next question is: what has been the biggest challenge of being involved? Some people shared having to rehearse over Zoom, the technical difficulties, but really anything, even as far as songwriting or anything that comes to mind.

CF: Yeah, I think actually the main one was music production. We weren't able to be all together in one recording studio and one recording booth doing harmonies together, so having to send back files and different tracks to each other of vocal snippets was actually really tough, especially for us to really understand the harmonies and write out different harmony factors in the song. Having to perform vocals, instrumentals, and recording my acoustic guitar in a different studio than the other musicians was probably the hardest part for me on this.


MP: Do you have any other thoughts that you'd like to share? Maybe even take a stab at a question you wish I would have asked you?

CF: I'm just actually really excited to see how people respond to the different musical factors in the show, and I think they'll be really surprised to see how Shakespeare is still relevant to today's times. It's still relevant hundreds of years later: to today's climate change. This show can really have [an impact] on making a change and not only in academia, but also in the regular pop music world, and in different facets overall, so I'm excited to see that.


MP: I'm going to add a question. I made a note to myself because you said something earlier, and I wanted to formulate that thought a little bit better. So earlier you said that you wrote this song, "Earth's Cry" with young adults in mind who have a passion for climate change, but are unsure how to take action. What kinds of ways would you like to see people take action? I'm not sure if you've thought that far ahead, but do you have  practical ways that you hope viewers will take action after seeing it, after engaging with your music?

CF: I think that's a really good question. You know, after you write the song, it's like, how do you really take action from that? One of the last few lines is "we have to make it number one, and we can do this together." So I think having that last line was intentional. In terms of your question "how do we move forward?" I'd like to see university students come together on their campuses because I think that's really important to make different initiatives, or different community bonds with each other. [They can] facilitate different clubs on campus that can go towards helping their own communities out, for example, recycling, or even just spreading advocacy around different rural parts of Merced. Initiatives and clubs that bring university students together—and making them a collective—[could] help with climate change. So, not everyone just doing a bunch of different things on their own, but coming together as a collective within even the UC system, for example.

MP:  Perfect. Thank you so much.