The sound effects behind a staged radio play - a blog post
The main thing I can say about being a member of the Foley Team is… it’s FUN!!
I have been involved in a number of productions over the last couple of years as part of the Marketing Team and as Prompt, both of which were behind the scenes. With the Players’ first Radio Production of The Philadelphia Story last December it was my chance to experience actually being on the stage, in front of a live audience (gulp!), with the other members of the cast.
Even though, as Foley we aren’t technically part of the cast, because the audience can see us it is important to react to what is happening in front of the microphone. So, not wanting to be left out we created stage personas with a little back story, playing the part of star-struck radio technicians with a bit of a crush on the leading man! It really helped that we were in costume and with 1940s hair and make-up.
The first task for the foley team is to read through the script, marking where all the sound effects are and then deciding what you think could possibly make that sound. We end up raiding sheds, lofts, kitchen cupboards for unlikely everyday objects. I often find myself tapping and banging things to see what sound they make, for which I apologise now to friends and family!
Our most successful sound effect last year was to recreate the sound of Tracey Lord and Mike Connor in the swimming pool. After trialing different things, we hit upon the idea of combining a flannel and a drinks cup in a bowl of water, moving them around to mimic the sound of the characters swimming, and then emerging dripping from the pool.
For The Scarlet Pimpernel there are many more sound effects to create as I am sure you can imagine, ranging from ticking clocks, doors opening and closing, to a coach and horses! Definitely some challenges there.
Once we have collected our sound effects we work with the actors in rehearsals to get the timing and the volume right. This is where we find out how realistic our sound is. Does running your thumb nail along the teeth of a comb really sound like a cricket when it comes out through the microphone?
We all have to work together as a Team – there is no point having a brilliant door opening and closing sound effect if the actor has already started talking before you open the door!
Well I must get on, just remembered some plastic cups which might come in useful!
I do hope we see you there at Mungos, Eliot College on either 30th November or 1st December. It’s going to be a fantastic evening!
By Jackie Erasin- Foley member
The University of Kent Players will be writing weekly blog posts throughout the rehearsal and production period of The Scarlet Pimpernel. If you are interested in joining the University of Kent Players, finding out more about a specific role, or have any questions, please don't hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets for The Scarlet Pimpernel are on sale here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-scarlet-pimpernel-radio-play-by-the-university-of-kent-players-tickets-50396456157