Company: Nashville Children’s Theatre
Director: Ernie Nolan
Time: January 2019
Role: Sound Designer
Secret Soldiers is a play that circles around the secret life of women who fought in the civil war disguised as men. This story focused mainly on Private Lyons Wakeman and her journey from the point she enlisted to her trial after being admitted into a hospital. For this design, the director and I built two separate sound worlds: Private Wakeman and the outside world, which focused on the reporters and doctor. Private Wakeman’s world was going to be more classical, and more instrumental, while the outside world was going to use more drum driven rock music. We established these worlds early on in the play and used them as themes as characters were established as the story went on.
Another challenge of this play was how many scene transitions there were. This entire story bounces back and forth between the trial and flashbacks as Wakeman is tell her story. In order to differentiate between them, we used a “whooshing” sound effect and the flashing of the lights to show we were either going into a flashback or leaving one. While in the flashbacks, it was a play between using ambience or underscoring to set the scene.
The biggest challenge of this play was the fact that we had members of the audience sit on stage to act as a board of doctors during the trial. It took some trial and error, but I found the best way to compensate this was 4 speakers used as a surround sound system with two front speakers and two rear speakers. This ensured that each member could hear all the sound effects and actors. To compensate for feedback, I only placed the microphones in the two rear speakers to reinforce the performer’s voices to those sitting on stage.
This driving piece was used at the top of the play to introduce the “outside world” or the world with the reporters. The first minute of the play foreshadows what could become of our heroine in disguise if exposed for hiding her gender in the war.
Path 5 became Wakeman’s theme and it became the sound of her world. Every time she would write a letter home to her family this piece would underscore her letters.
This soundscape was used to establish the first flashback setting and place the characters on the Rosetta farm and home.
I created a custom River and Boat Ambience by finding multiple boat sounds and a river sound and editing them all together to create a feeling that the two characters are by the docks in during the civil war era.
This scene starts out with Wakeman writing a letter back to her family, and I used a different part her theme song to show the urgency of the situation. Once the letter finishes, we find Wakeman in the midst of battle.
This was the most intense scene in the play. We have a layering of a very much driving underscore of battle with musket gun shots.
This is the sound used to designate that we are heading into a flashback or leaving one. It was originally a single “whoosh” but I edited it to extend it and give more time for a scene change.
This flashback noise was used to differentiate between a flashback from the present and a flashback within a flashback.