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Hills on Fire

By Joe Stevens & Keaton Wooden

Director: Ryan Hope Travis

Scenic Designer: Samantha Lewis

Lighting Designer: Jordan Lindquist

Costume Designer: Lotti Vandergoot

Sound Designer: Jesse Desrosiers

Photographer: Suzanna Mars

June 2019 - UF School of Theatre + Dance

Design Concept

My design first introduced standard Appalachian life – nature and church bells. The fire quickly arrives; a theme that haunts the production with varying qualities and intensity. I placed small speakers under the stage so that fire sound effects would emanate from the stage itself. As the play progressed, so too did the fire's intensity and lower frequencies.

Designing a new work, I was able to explore the world's soundscape and watch it incorporated into the musical in real time. I was able to establish the sound of the bell tolling as a motif. Introduced at the top of show to mark a character's death, the bell became connected to Mark’s ability to see the dead. This both emphasized his gift and made it possible to audibly signal when Mark was seeing dead people.

Sound Samples

Bell tolls opened the show, marking the death of Ed Stray. I sampled the initial sound and edited in the long reverb. The sound of a bell comes to signify someone's death, while the reverberation alone warns Mark that death is imminent.

Bell Toll

I played with rain levels, letting it fill emptier moments, while pulling back during fuller musical moments. I also played with musicality; syncing the timing of lightning strikes, etc. with the score. I sampled and edited together many different rain, wind, and thunder tracks. Featured: MaRah Williams.


I used different combinations of base recordings to create fires of varying timber and intensity. This also served as the intermission soundscape.

The Hills are on Fire
Shit Hits the fan.jpg

Sinkholes caused by the fire swallow characters alive. These were edited using sampled sounds from collapsing buildings, various fires, and even heavy rain. Some component parts are also included below.

Fire Sinkhole

Sample Component Sounds of Fire/ Sinkhole

Soft Fire
Loud Fire
Heavy Rain
Building Fire
The Fire3.jpg
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