It's Colleen, Frog in Hand's Artistic Director! If you follow this blog, you've been hearing all about our 3-part radio play, War of the Worlds Reimagined. It's now available to hear through the Frog in Hand shop on Ko-Fi for $10 until December 31st, 2021. This week writer, musician, actor & longtime Frog in Hand collaborator Callahan Connor share some favourite moments from his radio play. We've also got a Q&A with him below👇. Our previous post was an excerpt from War of the Worlds Reimagined part 2, Last Day - this blog explores part 3,"Back on the Air." Enjoy!
*Warning* the audio below contains strong language (unsuitable for children... and people who don't like strong language), and a huge dose of science fiction (unsuitable for people who don't like science fiction).
Here it is - our exclusive excerpt of War of the Worlds Reimagined, Part 3 "Back on the Air."
Credits Part 3: Back On The Air Written and Directed by Callahan Connor Daphne - Clarke Blair Leon - Andrew Gaboury Greg - Callahan Connor Music by Callahan Connor & Miquelon Rodriguez Dramaturgy by Daniel Levinson Sound Design and Mix by Miquelon Rodriguez Digital Production Coordinator Jessica Cen
Q & A with Isidora Keckman (IK) and Callahan Connor (CC) IK: What drew you to this excerpt from your part of the piece, and why does it speak to you?
CC: This excerpt contains the first awkward moments of the first official human radio broadcast after the death of the alien invaders. In my mind, it’s a very juicy scenario, with instant posterity, sort of like the ‘one small step for man’ quote during the first moon landing. This scene is a key moment, culturally speaking - a transition out of fear and isolation and into celebration and community. It’s a lot to try and contain in a few words, and I was trying to avoid a heavy sense of self-conscious meaningfulness; I didn’t want it to feel too dignified or pre-scripted; I wanted it to feel a bit frazzled, vulgar, raw in its jubilation. These characters have been through a lot! What would it sound like when at long last they get this radio working again?
I was interested in capturing the re-emergence of confidence, voice, style, storytelling, witnessing, and the curious fun of ‘speaking momentum’ - where you start to tell a story and get carried away by it. I didn’t want these characters to be ‘good’ at the radio right away; I think it’s more charming and heroic for them to be a little awkward and ill-suited to upholding the ‘gravitas’ of the moment. I wanted to be able to feel certain aspects of humanity re-emerging and re-defining themselves: humour, joy, and connection most of all. I suppose the scene speaks to me because of that - you can feel those aspects of humanity, triumphant and enduring.
IK: When translating this excerpt into an audio medium, what did you want to concentrate on with the actors when bringing it to life?
CC: I was really interested in the actors feeling natural, having fun, and sinking into the moment. The yelling and laughing and pot-banging were all opportunities to ‘get into it’ and I just wanted the actors to feel safe and encouraged in that process. They did a great job!
And here’s an example of a specific tonal thing I was going for once: you know how you can hear when someone gets closer to the microphone while they speak more quietly? Often it’s for emphasis or to confess something. I wanted DJ Daphne to do that for her line about ‘it is fucking dead, y’all’. It creates a mental picture of Daphne choosing to get closer to the mic. I like that moment as an indicator of her growing self-awareness and confidence in her own radio persona.
IK: Can you describe what it was like hearing the excerpt for the first time with the actors voicing it?
CC: Too cool. Instead of just hearing it all in my head I was hearing it from sensitive actors and friends who were internalizing and interpreting it in their own unique ways. And then in rehearsal getting to chase the tones and flavours that I wanted while building off their own unique energetic contributions, it was fun, and definitely alive!
IK: How did sound designer Miquelon Rodriguez use foley and music to add dimension to this excerpt? Any other comments about the sound design?
CC: Mickey is amazing, a real craftsman. I definitely wanted the scene to have a spatial sense of who was near or far from the microphone, and to provide other fun environmental sounds such as the pot-banging (figuring that these survivors would have gathered some pots around for cooking). Mickey achieved all of that excellently. In an earlier scene, Mickey really got to flex his sound design powers by creating a soundscape of the alien invaders broadcasting their own death over the radio waves; delicious, lush, creepy, outlandish sounds - you should check it out! And Mickey made some lovely short piano compositions that were sprinkled throughout the piece, often based on the theme of my song that's in another part of the piece, 'What A Beautiful Day To Make Some Friends'. This thematic cohesion really took the radio play to the next level. Mickey is the consummate professional!