TAKE THE CAR

Professional Training Program at Williamstown Theatre Festival

TAKE THE CAR

Written by Nora Sørena Casey
Directed by Ben Ferber
Design Concept

The story of Take the Car follows the lives of a Los Angeles mother, son, and aunt in their attempts to find escape from their various situations.  The story is presented through short glimpses in an anachronism order spanning from late 1980's to 2000's.  More details and intricacies of the characters and their relationships are revealed as the play progresses.  

Many moments of character direct address to the audience and the fast pace of the show presented some challenges in creating the aural world of the show.  The concept for the show included hints of naturalism coupled with moments of expressionist bouts to follow the seamless flow between scenes and time lines.  Inspired by visual emotional research and the artwork and process of painter J.M.W. Turner, I created an aural soundscape that provided not only the setting, but also tied to the general splashing of colors, sound, and music across a canvas.

The musical vocabulary for the show included artists from the Los Angeles punk-rock genre based around staple rock bands who have performed at Whiskey-A-Go-Go.

Visual Emotional Research
Aural Research

Click on an image below for a detailed explanation.

Homeless
Skeeball
Redondo Beach
Redondo Beach
Graffiti
Beach faded colors
JMW Turner
JMW Turner
JMW Turner
North Hills CA Sepulveda Blvd
Redondo Beach Pier 3
Whiskey A Go-Go
The Dickies
Downtown LA
Shopping Center
Redondo Beach Street View
Pay Phone

This Spotify playlist was used to bounce ideas with the director in identifying the aural vocabulary for the show. A list of select songs in the playlist can be found here.

Design Process

This production was a part of the Williamstown Theatre Festival Professional Training Program (PTP), formerly known as The Workshop.  Design work and sound system load-in for the PTP season were performed outside of the normal operating hours of the Festival.  

Despite the short timeframe given and the demanding environment of the Festival Mainstage season, a good deal of collaboration on this project took place.  I attended many design meetings with the director and design team, in addition to attending many rehearsals throughout the process.  This helped my understanding of the story to grow right alongside everyone else on the team.  This afforded new discoveries and deeper insight into the story beautifully crafted by the playwright and the lives of the characters.  

Given the close, intimate setting of the 97-seat black box Directing Studio theatre in three-quarter thrust configuration, I chose to create an environment that included the audience in the world of the story.  This was achieved through careful placement of surround speakers to engulf the audience with ambient sound effects.  The sound system was also balanced to echo the feeling of a rock concert as punk-rock music blasted in a select scene transitions.  The system was also designed with a center vocal system via an exploded center cluster.  

The close collaboration between the members of the creative team resulted in a cohesive work that effectively portrayed the story of Take the Car.  

Scene - Starbucks
Scene - Starbucks

Q2.1 – Opening & Beach Waves Ambience. A reverb tail was added to the end of the music to provide a more smooth cut off. Wave sounds were employed to create an association with character decisions to avoid the demanding responsibilities of their work and family.

Scene - Driving (Again)
Scene - Driving (Again)

Q26.5-27.5 Guitar Underscore and Car Swell There are two moments where Jenny and Lucas take the car. This sequence builds with the crossfading transition between guitar and natural car acceleration sounds.

Scene - X
Scene - X

Q45 - Transition and Underscoring. Drugs play a major role in the lives of the characters. At one moment when we are seeing into the minds of Meg and Lucas as they get high, the acoustic environment changes and becomes very reverberant and ethereal by means of hidden microphones in the set. To give more energy to the scene, “John the Fisherman” by Primus was layered with wave sounds. This also continued the theme with the waves representing when the characters escape their responsibilities.

Scene - I Love You
Scene - I Love You

Q33.1 - Waves Swell. Much of the story is told via character direct address, explaining the action or situation by breaking the "fourth wall." Subtle shifts in sound and lighting during direct address monologues created a small separation between the different styles of storytelling.

Scene - Nipples
Scene - Nipples

Q36 Music: “Poison Summer” by TROTSKY Sound Effect: Room Tone Ambience. The added clock ticking in this scene helps to propel Lucas’ uneasiness as Aunt Meg comments on her how hard her nipples get when she touches them.

Scene - Something Happens
Scene - Something Happens
Scene - Starbucks
Scene - Starbucks

Q2.5 Sound Effect: Traffic / Street Ambience Car passing sounds were used to tell the story of being outside. In this particular cue, on the line “[we] got on the bus,” the sounds of getting on a bus were heard. It was a challenge to find the right balance of using sound to support the action while not being too redundant in the storytelling.

Scene - Freaks
Scene - Freaks

Sound Effect: Room Tone Ambience. Ambient sounds were present during the entire show, but were mostly kept at a background level. The ambient sounds were removed during Jenny's dramatic outburst for heightened emphasis on her attempt to get out of the inevitable cycle of her life.

Scene - Oki Dogs
Scene - Oki Dogs

Q16 Music: “Buzzsaw” by The Turtles and “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly Sound Effect: Layered bar ambient sounds Meg tells of when she went to downtown LA to see bands at the Whiskey A Go Go. Low pass filters and subwoofers were used to give the sense that the concert was happening in the room next door.

1/1
Production Photos
Sound Cue Samples

Click on an image below for a detailed explanation

System Design

Click on the paperwork below to enlarge the image or download the PDF.

Speaker Plot

Speaker Plot

Speaker Section & Elevation

Speaker Section & Elevation

Signal Flow

Signal Flow

Rep Equipment List

Rep Equipment List

Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets

Cue Sheet

Cue Sheet

Speaker Plot

Section View

Signal Flow

Rep Equip

Spreadsheets

Cue Sheet

System Photos

Click on an image below for a detailed explanation.

Stage and House Overview
Scenic Close-Up
Area Mic Placement
Center Cluster Position
TV FX Speaker
USC FX Speaker
Phone Practical
Live Foley
Surround FX Speakers
Surround FX Speakers
Surrounds and Subwoofers
FOH Position
1/1

© 2021 Jeff Sherwood. 

  • Facebook Clean
  • Twitter Clean
  • LinkedIn Clean
  • w-googleplus
  • SoundCloud Clean
  • unnamed.png