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!
Welcome again to the podcast! This month we bring you…
Now…here’s where things are going to get confusing. Dash Cardigan was originally written as a 13-part serial. So why is this just part 1 of 4? Because what you’ll hear on the podcast is the hour-long version.
We get some of our best audiences at conventions. LibertyCon, Dragon Con, 221B Con, and a great many others have all welcomed us. A convention appearance, however, has to work within the convention’s schedule, and panels are almost always an hour long. So that’s how long our shows have evolved to be over time.
We’ll be breaking out of that a little as we continue our work in the studio (the full 13-part series of Dash Cardigan as well as Nairobi Jack Rackham: The Lost Gold of the Atlantimengani are both on the slate and we already have the 5-part The Dancer in the Dark), but you can always count on us having shorter versions of longer stories at conventions!
And now we arrive at the conclusion of our 2008 Dragon Con performance of The Doom of the Mummy. At this time we felt it would be appropriate to highlight William Alan Ritch, the writer, producer, and director of this performance.
William Alan Ritch at the tech table.
Bill (as he is commonly known) has been with ARTC for as long as anyone can remember. He is a tireless force in the organization, contributing time and money when necessary to ensure that shows go off without a hitch. He is a skilled director and has helmed the vast majority of ARTC productions, especially in recent years, and is also a competent technician, working in less-than-ideal conditions to give us the best sound we can get out of venues that aren’t designed for what we do (and let’s face it, very few venues are designed for what we do).
Bill Ritch takes the stage to read the credits for his play.
He writes, he directs, he soundscapes, he runs the mixing board…you name it, Bill has probably done it at one time or another. But he is more than that. He is one of the foundations upon which ARTC rests. He is a driving force and helps keep us on our path. And The Doom of the Mummy is destined to make its way into ARTC Studio so that it can take its place alongside our other classic monster stories…just as soon as he’s finished with one last rewrite.
This month we continue with 2008’s presentation of The Doom of the Mummy by William Alan Ritch, performed live at Dragon Con.
Lori Emerson, Floor Manager extraordinaire.
We’d like to take a moment to highlight one of the roles in the company that isn’t often appreciated by the audience, but is crucial to a successful performance, and that is the role of Floor Manager/Stage Manager. These days that vital function is fulfilled by Patti Ward (who will get her own feature posting soon!), but in 2008 and for many years before and after it was Lori Emerson.
Lori’s moved on to bigger and better things, but she did a stellar job for us as Floor Manager.
For those of you who might not know, the Floor Manager’s job is to be the primary liaison between the actors, the director, and the technical staff. They herd cats (aka wrangle actors into position), convey messages between groups, do a little script supervision, and provide timing cues to actors.
The presence of a good Floor Manager can literally be the difference between an amazing show and a sloppy show and we’ve been very lucky to have several work with us over the years. The Doom of the Mummy has so much going on with so many different musical instruments, a Floor Manager was absolutely essential.
Thanks, Lori! You’re welcome back with us if your path ever brings you back to this neck of the woods! And thanks also to all the Floor Managers everywhere!
This month we continue with our presentation of 2008’s performance of The Doom of the Mummy, performed live at Dragon Con.
Regina Maniquis on cello for Dragon Con 2008
The music for this performance was particularly special. We had the incomparable Brad Weage, and we also added in the talents of Alton Leonard, who played the lyre and the ugab. But the star of this musical show was Regina Maniquis on the cello.
Bill Ritch wrote an ambitious script that called for all kinds of authentic Egyptian music with authentic Egyptian instruments, but integral to the plot was this all-important cello.
In 2008 we performed The Doom of the Mummy at Dragon Con. The performance was dedicated to Thomas E. Fuller, who had already provided us with retellings of the classic monster stories The Passion of Frankenstein and The Brides of Dracula (not to mention an adaptation of The Invisible Man). Although he’d never really talked about it, it seemed natural to assume that he would follow those up one day with more audio dramas in the vein of the Universal Monsters by also retelling the time-honored tales of the wolfman, the mummy, and several others in that same vein.
Unfortunately, Thomas passed away in 2002 and we were never able to see what his vision for these classic monsters might have been. We are forced to fill the void ourselves, and have begun to do so with The Doom of the Mummy by William Alan Ritch and The Wood-Bound Werewolf by Kelley S. Ceccato.
Now, here in 2014, we dedicate this performance again, this time to Bill Kronick, himself recently passed away. Bill was a marvelous voice talent, a skilled improviser, and a great friend to all who knew him. We are proud to present his work here as Dr. Creighton Alastair.
And, at last, we reach the third and final installment of this retelling of the classic science fiction story that has inspired so many others throughout the ages. Except…
There’s one more chapter left to go. And that’s the one where we go into the studio and make this sound as good as we possibly can. ARTC’s Podcast is a fine example of our work – as one of the few audio drama companies that we know of to perform live, we take pride in this work and want it to have a life beyond the one or two performances we are normally allowed to give it. It’s also a great example of what we do for people who may not be familiar with us.
But it’s just a sample. In the studio we can get rid of feedback, get the exact right inflection, eliminate awkward pauses, make sure the effects are at the correct levels, and the music can really soar!
So if your only exposure to ARTC is our podcast, why not try out a studio production? You can get them here on this website or at Audible.com or Audiobooks.com. We thank you for listening, and we’ll be back next month with another example of the excitement of live audio theatre!