Drawn to Sound
Keely Wright-Ogren has a passion for storytelling, but it isn’t the on-stage action or script that draw her in the most: It’s the sounds.
“I’ve always loved technology and working with my hands,” said Wright-Ogren of Orange City, Iowa. As a University of Idaho Theatre Arts Master of Fine Arts candidate, she designs soundscapes that complement onstage storytelling. “Sound is so much fun. I love good music and learning how to underscore moments. You look at the big picture — the beginning, middle and end. You think about the characters and the theme.”
Wright-Ogren was honored with the 2017 Robert E. Cohen Sound Achievement Award from the United States Institute of Theatre Technology’s (USITT). The national award recognizes young designers and technicians who exhibit excellence and creative application of sound in the performing arts.
“I was completely shocked,” Wright-Ogren said. Her faculty were less surprised.
“Keely’s a natural talent,” said Ann Hoste, chair of UI Theatre Arts in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. “She weaves together individual sounds to create these seamless soundscapes that are deeply evocative but never intrusive. She’s also an incredibly generous artist, always willing to share her expertise with others.”
At UI, Wright-Ogren is active in the student chapter of USITT. She also has taught a sound design class and designed sound for several productions, including UI’s “Medea: Her Story” and “The Little Prince,” and “The Night of the Iguana,” produced by Lewiston Civic Theater.
While sound design gets the majority of Wright-Ogren’s attention, she’s explored all aspects of theater, from performing and directing to costume, scenic and lighting design.
As part of the 2016 10-Minute Play Festival, she directed an ensemble in an adaptation of the poem “Flare” by Mary Oliver. The experience was rewarding.
“I enjoy directing and telling a story that everyone’s heart is in and then conveying it to the audience. Collaboration is my favorite thing,” Wright-Ogren said.
Wright-Ogren is heavily involved in the upcoming UI production of “Wendy & Peter: Into Neverland.” Serving as co-director and sound and projection designer, she helped fellow MFA candidate Christina Holaday adapt the script from J.M. Barrie’s novel, “Peter and Wendy.”
“It’s very much Wendy’s story,” Wright-Ogren said. “I enjoy adapting old scripts, digging in and finding the bones – finding the truth of the story.”
The production will cap Wright-Ogren’s time in Moscow. She graduates in May with a master’s degree in design and technology.
She plans to put her theater skills to good use where ever she lands.
“Whatever community I’m in, my desire is to find out how can I serve them with my art,” she said.