based on the story by Kate Willheim
Produced by: Infinity Box Theatre Project
Directed by: Catherine Kettrick
Music by: Andrew J. Perez
Photos by: David M. Mills
When I first read Ladies and Gentlemen, This is Your Crisis I not only resonated with the story, but I also started sweating thinking about how big of a sound design this would be. What was unique about this play is we are watching characters who are watching a survivor style reality television show. In a way we are observing the relationship with the television as primary in their lives, and we see how twisted the relationship between the characters becomes. Even though the short story, which the play was based on, was written many years ago, the content felt extremely relevant to today with the reality television show craze. The play challenged me to ask ‘What is reality?’ Do I base my reality from my experiences and desires or what the media or others say? The sound for this play had to be engaging, realistic, and yet also be able to be in the background. The TV is on almost the whole play and we hear much of the TV show they are watching, sometimes it is the primary focus and at other times it plays under the action on stage. During intense moments of the TV show, the characters focus all their attention at the “screen” on the fourth wall. These moments have to be engaging to the live audience and communicate the action without the audience being able to see it. There was a lot of editing and little details that needed to be in order for this show to sound right. To date, this show had the most editing I have ever done for a design.
Script fragments for audio samples
2. Ed’s Crisis / 3. Ed’s Crisis (cont)
Finally, we have Ed Burnside, our yellow dot. (ALARM sounds and red light flashes for a few seconds).
Oh, my goodness, ladies and gentlemen, he’s sliding down that slope. I wonder if he meant to do that.
The sounds of ED’S slide continue for several moments (rocks, gravel and cries from ED) then gradually taper off, and we hear his labored breathing.
That was 65 feet of loose dirt and gravel Ed just slid down, ladies and gentlemen. He doesn’t appear to be hurt; our own Dr. Parker, who constantly monitors all our contestants, assures me he is not injured.
We hear labored breathing, cries, whimpers and muttering from ED and the occasional sound of rocks moving under FRANCINE.
Ed’s in quite a predicament, ladies and gentlemen. That scrub growth to his left may look promising, but it leads to a dead end. And if he goes right, the drop is even steeper—75 feet to the bottom of the gorge. How is he going to get off that ledge?
We hear occasional sounds of ED moving, rocks moving, etc.
We continue to hear the audio of ED moving, his labored breathing, whimpers, curses. He starts and stops.
Rock sounds pause, and we just hear Ed breathing. Gradually his breathing starts to calm a bit, then we hear the rock sounds start up again, with slight pauses in between. The sounds continue; we hear ED’S labored breathing.
It looks like Ed has made the right choice—he’s backing up the slope. Let’s hope it’s easier going up than down.
Finally a last flurry of rock sounds, then only ED’S breathing, sobbing.
7. Clyde’s Crisis
Audio plays of environmental sounds, CLYDE walking, bear and cubs in blueberry patch, occasional bear snuffles, etc.
FRANCINE (softly and worried)
That grizzly is nine feet tall, ladies and gentlemen, and I think she knows Clyde is there. But Clyde’s backing up now, and they’re still an eighth of a mile apart……..Uh oh. She’s started to move in his direction…but here are some trees and a cliff not too far away. Let’s see if he makes it.
On audio we hear sounds of small growls from bear, Clyde running, bear and cubs moving through brush. Clyde’s sounds become more desperate, the bear’s growls and her running louder.
Louder, desperate sounds of CLYDE running, breathing, etc. and the bear running after him.
We hear sounds of rocks falling as CLYDE starts climbing up the cliff, his labored breathing, etc. as well as louder sounds from the bear trying to climb the cliff; sounds of the cubs, and the bear sliding back down the cliff, growling at Clyde, then finally sounds of the bear and cubs leaving. We are left with Clyde’s breathing, gradually slowing down.
8. Ed’s Second Crisis
Looks like Ed Burnside’s in a heap of trouble, ladies and gentlemen. Once those wolves smell food, there’s no stopping them.
Snarls from the wolves get louder, interspersed with frightened cries from Ed.
Ed’s trying to keep them away with that branch, but that’s not going to help him much against a wolf pack.
Snarls from wolves, cries from Ed. Finally, a desperate scrambling up a tree. Wolves howl in frustration.
Ed’s made it, ladies and gentlemen. He seems to have lost a boot, but, other than that, he’s not hurt.
We hear the wolves tearing into Ed’s pack.
9. Mildred’s Crisis
We hear environmental sounds from the site: footsteps walking by a stream. Then a splash.
That stream Mildred’s fallen into is forty-eight degrees, ladies and gentlemen! Forty-eight! Dr. Parker, how long can a person be immersed in water that cold?
Not long, Francine. Not long at all. Ten minutes at most, I’d say.
That water is reducing her body heat second by second. When it is low enough to produce unconsciousness….
We hear sounds of the stream and MILDRED struggling, breathing hard.
More splashing, MILDRED retching, finally just the stream and MILDRED gasping, breathing hard.
She’s lost her backpack in the stream, ladies and gentlemen, she only has what’s on her back, and if she’s going to survive the night, she has to get out of those wet clothes and get dry………Does she still have her waterproof matches? Let’s watch.
We hear sounds of movement, sticks breaking, finally the small sounds of a fire.
Lucky for her she kept those matches in a pocket, ladies and gentlemen. That was good thinking.
The fire sounds get louder. We hear mutters from MILDRED as she tries to get out of her wet clothes.
Who will it be, ladies and gentlemen? Who will reach the perimeter first? Angie Dawes?
(Picture shows Angie surreptitiously scratching herself).
Angie has played it safe, staying in that meadow, but Ed Burnside—
Picture switches to ED.
—was doing well ‘til the wolves got his backpack. He’s down from that tree but has been wandering in circles ever since.
That leaves only Mildred Ormsby and Clyde Williams. Mildred, as you’ll recall, took a nasty dip in a stream earlier today. She managed to get dry, but lost her backpack, so she’s had no food. And from the way she’s limping, her boots must have shrunk. Mildred is closer to one of our This Is Your Crisis! trucks than Clyde is, but Clyde is in great shape.
We hear audio of CLYDE loping through the brush, etc. Audio of MILDRED struggling, gasping, sobbing, finally collapsing.
Mildred Ormsby’s down, ladies and gentlemen, she’s out of the race. Let’s see if Clyde can make it the rest of the way in time.
We continue to hear sounds from CLYDE’S site.
More sounds of Clyde running, his breathing becoming more labored. Then some faint cheers: the crew of the truck he is heading for. Some “You can do it!” “Come on!” types of encouragement. Finally applause as CLYDE reaches the truck.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Clyde Williams, professor of economics from Harvard, and this week’s winner of This Is Your Crisis! Let’s go to the field, and see how Clyde’s doing.
We hear background noises of people chatting, generator on a truck to power the TV equipment, maybe medical personnel, etc.
Clyde? Clyde can you hear me?
A pause while Clyde gets a headset on.
Yes, Francine, I can hear you.
Congratulations, Clyde. How’s it feel?
Great, Francine, great.
So, how did you manage to make it out, Clyde? What kept you going? Any secrets to share?
Not really, Francine. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and didn’t let anything get in my way.
I guess not. You didn’t even let that bear get in your way. Here’s what we saw, Clyde.
Audio of Clyde being chased by the bear. After a few moments, its volume goes down a bit and we hear Francine.
What were you thinking when that bear was chasing you?
Just that I had to keep ahead of it, Francine.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, words of wisdom from this week’s winner, Clyde Williams. And now let’s check up on our other contestants.
Audio goes to other contestants being picked up, if needed to fill in time. We hear helicopters, maybe the sound of voices, e.g. soothing Ed, encouraging Mildred, etc. Over this audio is Francine commenting.
The helicopter has just picked up Angie Dawes. She wasn’t very far into the area, so that was easy. The medics have reached Mildred Ormsby. They’re giving her first aid for her feet, seems she’s got quite a few blisters. But she’ll be all right in a few days. Ed Burnside also needs some medical attention. He might be suffering from hypothermia. But those are the risks you take on This Is Your Crisis!, ladies and gentlemen, the only show where no matter who loses, everyone wins!