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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sample Component Sounds of Fire/ Sinkhole