Professional Training Program at Williamstown Theatre Festival


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.

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.  

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

Section View

Signal Flow

Rep Equip


Cue Sheet

System Photos

Click on an image below for a detailed explanation.


© 2020 Jeff Sherwood. 

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