As we mentioned last month, we’re bringing you The Passion of Frankensteinin five parts and will be showcasing a different performance for at least the first four. We hope. We haven’t performed two of these yet and if the recording devices fail (it’s happened) then we might have to improvise. Part five will probably include the best performance of those scenes, but who knows? We might surprise ourselves.
This month we’re bringing you a section of the studio recording that we did at Audio Craft Studio back in 2002. This is what we refer to as the “original cast”. The pictures in this entry are still from World Horror Convention 2015, though, because we don’t have any pictures from any of the other performances yet. Talk to us after LibertyCon and Dragon Con. So the picture below of Thomas E. Fuller and Henry Howard at Audio Craft will have to do.
Thomas Fuller and Henry Howard admire an issue of the Centauri Express audio magazine at Audio Craft Studio
The studio recording was, literally, a monster to produce. The rich soundscape we talked about in last month’s entry is difficult to produce live, but surely in the studio it’s easier, right? Wrong.
What do you mean it’s not easier??
First, in the studio the standards are higher. Live audiences are very forgiving (thank goodness!), but once it’s on a recording all the little flaws stick out, so there’s a lot of precision work that has to get done. And the music, which in a live performance has a little bit of ebb and flow and adjustment to it, had to get timed out to the second to make the scenes work the way they were supposed to.
And then there was the review process.
“Our opinion of that draft of the recording might be at the bottom of this bucket. Or maybe it’s under it.”
See, this was back in the early 2000s when the Internet was only barely a thing for the general public. Cloud storage didn’t exist. Websites were hosted on Angelfire and Geocities. And CD-R technology wasn’t even remotely as reliable as it is now. We couldn’t just create an mp3, put it on a server somewhere, and have beta listeners download it and give feedback. We had to try to gather everyone together at the same time and have a listening party. On one memorable occasion we had all the relevant parties in the room…and the CD wouldn’t play. And burning another one would have involved an hour of driving and probably 30 minutes to actually burn the disk. So we all went home.
The Passion of Frankenstein is legendary amongst longtime ARTC members. First performed at Dragon Con in 1998 it has been repeated only four times in our long 31 year history. It is powerful. A freight train of an audio drama, crafted by Thomas E. Fuller to assault the audience with raw power and emotion. And it is a technical nightmare.
Pictured: a technical nightmare
The creation scenes involve layer after layer of switches, electrical sounds, dynamos, chains, rain, thunder, lightning, and the frantic shouting of Victor and his assistant Henry, along with the mournful recitation of the Monster’s borrowed poetry. Fuller made extensive use of Percy Shelley’s poetry in the script.
Over 80 individual sound cues go into this hour-long production, not to mention the live Foley sound effects. In 1998 this involved multiple CD players and tape decks, some of which were arranged to play certain sounds on a loop and could be faded in and out to prevent having to cue up those sounds again later. In 2015 we brought it to World Horror Convention, safe in the assumption that modern technology would make the production easier. While it is true that the laptop we ran the SFX from took up less space, it did not help as much as we’d hoped in terms of making the SFX easier to cue.
Just some of the live Foley, performed by Tony Fuller and Bob Brown, mixed by Ashley Harp
When you have a piece this complex, you can’t just perform it once, so we will be repeating it in 2015 at LibertyCon and Dragon Con. For the next cycle of podcasts we will be bringing you each of the 5 parts from a different one of those productions, as well as the studio production.
You know who tends to get all the glory in theatrical productions? Actors. You know who really does all the work? Technicians.
Tony Fuller is upset about not getting more glory.
Especially in audio drama, all actors have to do is show up and read their lines. We even get our scripts on stage!
Bob Zimmerman is unimpressed by your reading skills.
Sure, acting requires diction and timing and the ability to convince an audience that you are a person other than the one you really are, but without the music and without the sound effects the giant squid just ain’t gonna attack The Nautilus.
Alton Leonard can’t hear the actors complaining because he’s busy making music.
Plus, they’re the only ones who know which wires to plug into which other wires. Also, amplifiers are heavy. And ARTC brings a lot of stuff with us to our performances because you never know what you’re gonna need.
Giuliana Ward is too happy to be mad at actors for hogging the spotlight.
Just kidding! She’ll cut you if she gets half a chance!
So the next time you’re at an ARTC performance, be sure to thank the technicians! (Also the floor manager, not pictured). It’s their show, too!
Sometimes in the podcast we give credit to the lighting designer. This may seem strange to listeners who have never seen us perform live because it’s not like we’re showing a video of the performance. Why would we give a credit to the lighting designer when you can’t see their work?
Here’s some of their work. Happy now?
Because at a live performance, the lighting can enhance even an audio experience in ways that are difficult to describe. In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea the characters are often underwater, outside of the Nautilus. During those times they can’t easily speak to each other, which makes dialogue challenging.
When we adapt H. P. Lovecraft, there often isn’t any dialogue at all, and so we just make some up. But in this case the passages where the characters are underwater are filled with lush descriptions of undersea life and landscapes that many of us will never see. We couldn’t just leave them out completely, nor could we make up dialogue that the other characters could never hear.
So we decided to create a music bed and have the characters each share their own perspective on what they were seeing through a triptych of interwoven monologues. In those instances the lighting helped the live audience adjust better to the transition.
Robert Drake: Lightmaster
That lighting design is nearly always done by our host at the Academy Theatre, Robert Drake. So the next time you come out to see ARTC perform live anywhere where we have control over the lights (we usually don’t at our convention performances), ask if Robert’s around! And thank him for all his work!
It’s come to our attention that the podcast for January and February had some kind of digital glitch that was causing a beep every few seconds. We want to apologize for that and let you all know that we’ve fixed it, but also want to assure everyone that we would never stoop to such tricks to “watermark” our content that way.
If you ever have any trouble with the podcast, or any other part of the website or our offerings, please let us know!
Unauthorized posting of our content is a problem, no question, and if you see anything posted that doesn’t look like it came from us on an official channel, we’d appreciate your letting us know (especially our studio work), but it would never be our intention to make for a bad listening experience.
There are exciting things in store for the podcast later this year. Right now we’re going to keep it nice and vague, but we think you’ll like what we have in mind. Thanks for listening!
When writing the script for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, David Benedict and Brad Strickland had two major problems to overcome. The first was compressing a novel-length work of genius by Jules Verne into an hour time slot. That was solved through vicious editing.
The second problem? There are no women in Verne’s tale of the sea and ARTC has been blessed with a number of extremely talented actresses. It would have been a crime to leave them out entirely. So, artistic liberty was applied. First, it was decided that Conseil, Professor Arronax’s faithful companion, would be a woman. Second, a new female member of the crew would be introduced.
Clair Kiernan as Conseil and Kelley S. Ceccato as Navigator Aznar
Captain Nemo’s crew is not mentioned heavily by name in the original work. They are clearly vital to Nemo’s voyage under the sea, and he values them greatly. No, he reveres them. But precious few individuals are named. This gave Strickland and Benedict an opportunity to introduce audiences to one, who just happened to be a woman, and also to allow the audience an opportunity to track the progress of the Nautilus as Navigator Aznar announces the submarine’s position at the beginning of many scenes.
One thing that was very important, however, was that Aznar not be relegated to the “love interest” of the play. The only love interest that is present in the script, as well as the original novel, is Nemo’s love of the sea – of its beauty and what it can provide if it is respected.
In 2013 ARTC took our adaptation of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to the Academy Theatre in Avondale Estates for its debut, and thusfar only, performance.
As part of the performance, we commissioned a cake from our good friend Heather Schroeder with Sweets to the Sweet (edit: we just got word that Sweets to the Sweet is taking a bit of a hiatus. Sad face! Hopefully they’ll be back baking soon!). Check out how awesome this is!
We now bring you the concluding chapter of the short version of Dash Cardigan!
It’s been a pleasure bringing you another year of free audio drama! Don’t forget us when it comes time for gift-giving and those tax-deductible charitable donations. You do know we’re a 501(c))(3), right? Lots of options on our donate page, so pick the method and the budget that’s right for YOU.
Thanks for listening! We’ll see you all again in 2015!
In the “better late than never” category, this month we present Dash Cardigan part 3 of 4, by Thomas E. Fuller.
We’d like to offer some standard advice to our fine listeners – take care of yourselves! Being sick is no picnic, and it’s what caused this episode to be delayed a bit. So take it from the fine folks at ARTC: get plenty of rest, wash your hands frequently, take your vitamins, and stay healthy!
If you’re enjoying the podcast, why not head on over to Patreon.com/artc. and lend us your support? You can also see other ways of ensuring the podcast keeps coming with a few other donation options. Thanks!