White Guy on the Bus
By Marcus Gardley
Director: Malcolm Gets
Scenic Designer: Samantha Lewis
Lighting Designer: Mika Ahlemann
Costume Designer: Lotti Vandergoot
Photographer: Suzanna Mars
March 2019 - UF School of Theatre + Dance
In this production, the protagonist, Ray, is plagued by the memory of his wife's death and seeks revenge. He rides the bus frequently to befriend a Black woman whom he attempts to bribe into helping him. The play centers around the memory of the protagonist; with scenes often blending into each other. It was performed in a black box and in the round.
Leaning into the dream-play concept, I placed speakers on three levels: below the audience on three sides (built into the risers), above the audience in four corners, and at the top center of the theatre. I used this placement to establish where scenes were ending vs. where the next was beginning; as well as to guide shifts in staging within scenes and to follow the attention of Ray himself.
At the top of the show, Ray is lost in his memory and experiences a sort of "emotional bus crash." Here, three speakers move the source of the sound across the stage; landing at Ray just before the crash.
White noise symbolized first Ray's persistent rage, then his clouded mind. Sudden shifts from the upper to lower speakers brought the sound closer to the audience; creating a fuller, more immediate feeling.
During pre-show and intermission, I played commercials (emphasizing the consumerist theme of the show) one by one, each from a different speaker. During preshow in particular, this acclimated the audience to having speakers so close to them so that this wouldn't distract during the performance.