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Guest designer helps bring sounds to life

Imagine the dark Intimate Theatre. Lights suddenly dance across the stage as sounds of a river fill the room. The sound is so real you feel as if you’re actually sitting beside a river. For Drama Ensemble’s upcoming play, “The Diviners,” by Jim Leonard Jr., sounds of nature come alive with help from guest sound designer and audio technician, Thadeus Frazier-Reed.

Set in rural Indiana during the Great Depression, “The Diviners” is a story about a young man with the ability to find water in a town where water is in short supply. Since water is the main element in the production, Thadeus and the sound crew are testing water sounds in a variety of ways.

“It is very important that the water sounds are realistic, so we have tried multiple tactics including pouring water over a tin bucket to make the sound of rain hitting a roof,” said technical crew manager Antonina Maxey ’11. “A lot of experimentation is needed in order to get the most realistic sounds possible.”

Working with the crew, Thadeus focuses on pre-recording sounds and programming the soundboard for the play. On the soundboard are recordings of natural sounds, most of which he has recorded or come from commercially available sound libraries.

“Sometimes, when I can’t record or find a recording of a specific sound I need, I must manufacture the sound by recording something that sounds like it or mixing other soundstogether,” Thadeus said.

Performing arts department head Anne Scarbrough said that Thadeus has had “great ideas from the get-go.” During the incessant rain in Los Angeles, Thadeus took the opportunity to record sounds of the rushing water.

The finished product will be a collective effort from the entire cast and crew.

“It is through the collaboration of ideas coming from everyone working on ‘The Diviners’ and Thadeus’ sound manipulation skills that we will produce the sound for this show,” Antonina said.

For any other surprises, everyone will just have to wait and see when the play goes on stage March 18-20.

“The final scene from the play requires a really interesting piece of sound design. We will be combining live action from the stage with prerecorded, processed sounds and trying to move seamlessly between the two,” Thadues said.