The Radio Plays

Claire Trevor Theatre
University of California, Irvine
2013

The central “set” of The Radio Plays is a conglomeration of microphones and foley props

Background

The Radio Plays featured three shows with no lighting, scenic, or costume design, that implored audiences to close their eyes and listen. This evening of witty, fast-paced, and lighthearted humor spanned three shows, including Sherlock Holmes: Murder in the Casbah (written by Anthony Boucher and Denis Green, directed by Vincent Olivieri), Do I Really Sound Like That? (written by Sean Cunningham and directed by Vincent Olivieri), and The Wildest Dream Ever (written and directed by Eli Simon). For sound designer Stephen Swift and myself, designing these bare-bones plays provided an ideal set of conditions to facilitate great stories using creative sounds.

Sound Design Concept

The plays included live foley, composed music, and sound design. In the play Do I Really Sound Like That?, Andy is a masochistic podcast sound designer who struggles to make sense of a failed relationship with anchor Meredith by broadcasting his angst on-the-air. I explored the bitter, broken heart of this character and created, from scratch, many of the sounds that he broadcasts in his anxiety. To support the wittiness of the writing, it was important that these sounds contained humorous elements on top of their dark undertones.

The Team

Directors: Vincent Olivieri, Eli Simon
Sound Designer: Stephen Swift
Assistant Sound Designer: Brian Svoboda
Mix Engineer: Elliot Davoren
Foley Artists: Cinthia Palmer and cast
Photography: Vincent Olivieri

Sound Samples

For the best listening experience, please use high quality headphones or speakers. Audio files are in uncompressed WAV format.

Please, don't!

by Brian Svoboda | The Radio Plays

In order to cope with his breakup with Meredith, Andy uses sound to create multiple scenarios where he brutally murders her. His sound design begins as a joke and increasingly gets out of hand. I created the sounds for the latter death sequences by recording myself tearing apart of lettuce and cabbage. I also chewed tripe and other slimy noodles right up against a large-diaphragm condenser microphone. With some difficulty, I avoided breathing so that my breath would not be recorded.

Picking Up the Pieces

by Brian Svoboda | The Radio Plays

Andy regains his position as sound technician and attempts to derail Meredith’s radio show by over-exaggerating the ruckus to reflect his heartbreak. To create this sound, we spent an afternoon scavenging for free or cheap pottery and glassware. We then organized a recording session late in the evening on a quiet rooftop outdoors, where we unapologetically dropped everything from a 6-foot-tall ladder and smashed what remained with a rubber mallet.

Sexplosion ... Go!

by Brian Svoboda | The Radio Plays

Misogynistic radio producer Gus harasses Meredith and Andy from outside the sound booth before cueing up for “Picking Up The Pieces”, a podcast whose name backhandedly alludes to Andy’s deteriorating romantic situation. Although Gus is standing plainly on stage, we filtered his voice to make it sound as if he were in a booth talking over an intercom. We created a foot switch for the actor that allowed him to trigger a clicking sound whenever he would speak over the intercom.

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