Men on Boats
By Jaclyn Backhaus
Belmont University // Actor's Bridge Ensemble
Spring 2017
Production Team
Director: Leah Lowe
Stage Manager: Maggie Jackson
Scenic Design: Ray Kennedy
Lighting Design: Richard K. Davis
Costume Design: Colleen Garatoni

Photos: Rick Malkin

Evoking the emotional journey that Powell and his crew experienced was the core of my sound design. Bluegrass and acoustic guitar inspired sounds helped create the rough and tumble world that John Wesley Powell and his crew experienced in 1869. The director and I aimed for each scene to have a different tone. Using almost all guitar melodies, the mood ebbs and flows with the dangerous and exciting parts of the river, and with the cast’s feelings. Foreshadowing dangerous river runs to underscoring exciting new finds in the landscape, these guitar sounds are meant to immerse the audience in the spirit of the crew on their journey. Besides guitar, various ambiences such as raging water and campfires, helped create the world of the west. The sound design is all about making the audience feel like they are a part of the adventure. The biggest challenge with this show was deciphering the emotions that were felt throughout the play and being able to translate that into music. I learned to be able to read a text and analyze it.

Grandioso Radio
The last scene of the men coming out of the Grand Canyon and meeting Mr. Asa. Grandioso Radio accompanies this moment to signify the coming back into the "real world" and all the problems that come with such an accomplishment and dealing with the government. These men were deemed as heroes.
Photo: Rick Malkin
Adventurous Acoustic
This is a pulled piece that I used to kick off the character's journey and set the tone. I wanted to convey the excitement and adventure the crew was feeling heading into the unknown terrain. I used this acoustic style throughout the entire show to keep it rustic and down to earth. Another reason I chose acoustic and guitar heavy music was to give the show a backwoods and rough around the edges feeling.
Photo: Rick Malkin
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