Hey there Pollywogs,
It's me, Colleen, your local Frog in Hand Artistic Director! Today I'm writing as a - well, a writer, and a voice actor! If you follow this blog, you've been hearing about our radio play, War of the Worlds Reimagined. It's now available to hear through the Frog in Hand shop on Ko-Fi for $10... And we're pretty excited about that, because it's a huge achievement: our first radio play! Who knew our experience with immersive dance-theatre could translate so well to audio drama? Well, since War of the Worlds Reimagined is available to you through to December 31st, 2021, fellow writer Callahan and I will be taking a blog post or two to let share scripts excerpts, and then hear for yourself what these scripts sound like in finished audio form. We'll also take the opportunity to reflect on our process with questions provided by Frog in Hand's wonderful PR rep, Isidora Keckman.
Sound good? Make sense? Sitting comfortably? Let's go!
Last Day: An Excerpt Written & Directed by Colleen Snell
Ellie: Colleen Snell Gerald: Callahan Connor
Automated voice: Alice Cavanagh
Foley, sound design and mix: Miquelon Rodriquez
Dramaturge: Daniel Levinson
Supported by the Canada Council Digital Originals program
Ellie: I stepped on something soft and uneven and saw an immobile heap of something, of clothing? (Silence) Smoke smoke smoke smoke smoke. Wait – I recognized the watch. I bent and touched a hand, Mr. … Robert? Tears. I stepped over the body (involuntary sound) I plunged forward and hit a hard, metal surface. It was a door, but it refused to move. Horrified, I was sure we were trapped. I pushed on the door until I couldn’t anymore. Then Gerald was there.
Gerald: Slam bar! El, push the slam bar! Ellie: The door gave, we lurched into the street I was breathing spasmodically or was I crying my heart erratic my heart racing eyes wild hair in my face, I was falling into a crouch, convulsively gasping with hands on my knees trying to catch my breath.
Automated voice: We’re sorry, your message exceeds the allowed limit. Would you like to save your message, or try again? To save your message, press 1 (beep). Your message has been saved. Goodbye.
Q & A with Isidora Keckman (IK) and Colleen Snell (CS)
IK: What drew you to this excerpt from your part of the piece, why does it speak to you?
CS: This is one of the most dramatic and intense parts of the whole production. It was my favourite part to write and act. Ellie, the protagonist, is trying to escape her office building, which is being attacked by "Walkers," the martian invaders. Her office tower is collapsing and on fire, and she's running down the fire escape. I wrote this as a stream of consciousness. At first the script had no punctuation here, because I wanted to convey the way time slows down in a crisis. El is seeing the world in incredible, vivid detail, as she fights to stay alive. Anyone who's lived through a health crisis or emergency knows what I'm talking about... Every second counts, each choice is vital. It was cathartic to channel so much intensity, chaos and panic into this section. I think it helped me express my feelings around the pandemic without talking about that directly.
Isidora: When translating this excerpt into an audio medium, what did you want to concentrate on with the actors when bringing it to life?
CS: Oh gosh, it's funny because I wrote this without knowing I'd play Ellie. As the writer I was like, "this part's going to be a marathon for whoever has to act it. Oh well, good luck to them!" Hahaha. And then it ended up being me! Thank goodness I had Daniel (Levinson, Frog in Hand's dramaturge). He coached me through this monologue. The entire thing is a few minutes in length and it's incredibly specific. Daniel had me visualize what the character would be seeing, so this would influence my vocal choices. We worked on breath, and the physicality of the voice - going beyond words. Because this is voice acting - you can't see my face and body - we needed to be intentional about all the character's sounds - gasping, sighing, even repressing a sob. We also worked (a lot) on pace - slowing me down. I learned that speaking with intensity not speed made this section more dramatic, and clear.
Isidora: Can you describe what it was like hearing the excerpt for the first time with the actors voicing it?
CS: Radio is such a visual medium! It was amazing, weird and cool to hear my voice alongside the other actors, because we were never in the same room during the process. Mickey made it sound like we were standing next to one another. I was proud of how professional it sounded, given this is the first script I've written, and Frog in Hand's first radio play. It's been freeing to create something that exists purely in the audience's imagination.
Isidora: How did sound designer Miquelon Rodriguez use foley and music to add dimension to this excerpt? Any other comments about the sound design?
CS: In the part right after this excerpt, El goes into the street and we hear cars, panicked voices, klaxons and even the sound of the alien Walker. Mickey's design took my script and made it into a whole world. The sounds he added are the props, sets, other characters... It's immersive, you can see clearly it in you mind. I guess this is a bit of a teaser to the folks reading this blog, but seriously you've got to listen to the next part, because it's epic.
War of the Worlds Reimagined is an original radio play by Frog in Hand, inspired by the classic tale by H.G. Wells.
Close your eyes, escape your screen, and immerse yourself in a world of sound. Running until December 31st, 2021, head over to the Frog in Hand Ko-Fi account and experience the complete three-part radio drama from wherever you are, whenever you want. Our thrilling audio drama, War of the Worlds Reimagined, is a response to crisis fuelled by science fiction, inspired by the writing of H. G. Wells. You will witness remarkable friendships, and hear eerie encounters with the unknown. Playwrights Andrew Gaboury, Colleen Snell & Callahan Connor each crafted a chapter in this three-part adventure. We recommend bringing headphones for an optimal experience. Plug in, kick back, and discover why radio is the "theatre of the imagination."
Access to the full-series is $10 through a vimeo link. Your payment unlocks the password to the video. Purchases valid until December 31, 2021.