Secret Soldiers
Civil War Heroines in Disguise

Wendy Lement
Nashville Children's Theatre
Winter 2020
Production Team
Director: Ernie Nolan
Stage Manager: Rachael Silverman
Scenic Design: Scott Leathers
Lighting Design: Scott Leathers
Costume Design: Patricia Taber

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. All pieces features are pulled.

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.

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.

They Speak with Knives - If These Trees Could Talk (In Context)

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. This is a pulled piece.
Photo: Unknown

Path 5 - Mogwai Remix - Max Richter (In Context)

Path 5 is 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.

Photo: Unknown
Battle Flashback Scene

This scene starts out with Wakeman writing a letter back to her family, and I used a different part of her theme song to show the urgency of the situation. Once the letter finishes, we find Wakeman in the midst of battle. The whooshes at the start of the scene were used to denote a flashback, and were used consistently throughout the play.
Photo: Unknown

The Red River Campaign

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.

Photo: Unknown
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