America (Millennium Approaches)"
Staged at the Robsham Theater Arts Center,
Boston College, November 2008
Produced by Boston College Theater Dept and the Robsham Theater Arts Center
Directed by Stuart Hecht
Set Design: Crystal Tiala
Costume Design: Jackie Dalley
Technical Director: Ruth Conrad-Proulx
Sound Design/ SFX Programming Team:
Designer: George Cooke
Assistant Design: Chris Casey (Class of 2010)
Board Operator: Jay Kloo (Class of 2010)
The sound design for our
November 2008 production of "Angels in America" provided interesting
challenges in implementation and SFX 6 was invaluable in meeting
these challenges due to its ease of use, reliability, and flexibility.
The overall design was a 100+ cue combination of music for scene changes,
actor-driven special effects, loud special audio effects, music
underscoring, and wireless mics. We used SFX's buss system to
create six zones for playback: center cluster, front fill, rear fill, subs,
onstage center effects, and offstage left effects. The six busses can
be seen in the active matrix section in the "Angels1" screen shot.
Scene 2 of the play, which we referred
to as "The Phone Scene", provided a great challenge for the actor
playing Roy Cohn and our board operator, Jay Kloo, as there were 26 cues in
approximately 2 minutes. Each cue had to sync with the actor
pushing buttons on the phone, and the timing had to be perfect as phone
holds had to be stopped and started at the correct times. The cues can
be seen in both the "Angels1" and "Angels2" screen shots. We held
several rehearsals for just the actor and the board op due to the complexity
of the scene.
Sound effects were handled largely by Chris
Casey, our assistant sound designer. While many of the effects were
straight ahead, such as the sound of a phone ringing or a bus honking, there
were several cues that required thinking outside the box. In the final
scene, right before the angel appears, the bed on stage starts to creak and
groan (cue KKKK in screen shot "Angels4"). For this cue, we ended up
using the sound of a submarine creaking underwater. The sound of the
angel's wings provided more of a challenge as it was hard to find realistic
sounding and very large sounding wings. In the end, we viewed some
movie footage of dragons and pterodactyls and found that the sound of a gas
pilot lighting ("whoosh") rendered the best effect for this cue.
Angels 4 screenshot
There were points where we able to use SFX's buss structure to create some simple "surround" effects. One such example begins at cue UUU on the "angles3" screen shot. For this transition we had:
-city sounds in center cluster, front and
Angels 3 Screenshot
Lastly, we were able to use
the MIDI capabilities of SFX to send program changes to our M7CL and turn on
the wireless mic we used to amplify and process the ethereal voice for the
angel. This can be seen in screen shot "angels5", cues W and X.
This production was staged at an academic facility, but the production value and experience that the students working on the production received were of professional quality. SFX was a vital part of the process as it reliably handled a complex show and our student tech staff had important skill training in working with professional software.