When you take a lot of pictures of anything, after a while, you are finished using them for their originally intended purpose and you get playful.
I took more than 600 pictures of the Tom and Ellin Curley VoiceScapes Audio Theater last weekend. I have diligently processed as many photographs as I felt made sense and weren’t simply duplicates of each other. I dare say there are more, but I’ve gotten through the main, first batch.
Now, I’m into the “playful period” of trying to see what clever and unique ways I can process the same or similar shots. I think of it as “fun with filters.”
Well yes, actually. We went to see VoiceScapes — the audio performance group of Tom and Ellin Curley. The show was at a library in New York. It was an audio performance and I got to be the photographer.
So, from loading the monumental amount of equipment to unloading it. Setting up. Rehearsing. Performing. Breaking down the set. Loading it all back into the car, then back to Connecticut.
I’m sure Ellin and/or Tom will write a bigger and better description of the event and maybe include some of the material. It was a lot of fun.
It was also something different and unique. Since I’m an audiobook devotee, I got to meet a few of the voices I have listened to and loved and watched them “do their thing.” It is always delicious to meet the people you admire.
It reminded me of a view Broadway shows with one or two actors doing the performance. This was five people. It was intimate — with a lot of laughter.
We also had the wildest ride I ever remember where we experienced every form of weather — in a 3-1/2 hour drive which should have been 2 hours. From near-blizzard snow, to drenching rain, to sunshine, and glowing sunsets, we saw it all.
List three favorite book characters.
Impossible to name just three. I’ve read thousands of books and there are so many characters, I couldn’t imagine naming three– or even 103.
What is your favorite non alcoholic drink: hot or cold?
Real (not diet) Coke, with a bit of ice for a cold drink. Coffee, with a bit of half-and-half, for something hot.
You can’t choose hot OR cold. Coffee is the drink of the morning and Coke is an after dinner treat.
What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?
This was a good week for smiling. It was Garry’s birthday and we went to visit Ellin and Tom for the weekend. There was an event — a performance of Voicescapes on Garry’s birthday — which was Saturday, so we got to celebrate is birthday on Sunday instead.
A two-day birthday and a cake so delicious it would be hard to describe. A kind of crisp chocolate covering — not icing, more like melted chocolate that was then chilled to make is more chocolate. Chocolate cake with a pure whipped cream filling.
My audio theater group, VoiceScapes Audio Theater, has been performing live, one hour shows of short, original, contemporary pieces. We perform mostly at local libraries about an hour from our home.
Libraries are a particularly good venue for us because two of our actors are popular, prolific, Audie Award winning book narrators, Barbara Rosenblat and Robin Miles. They are rock stars in the library and audio book worlds. So we get enthusiastic audiences of 30-40 people for each show.
Most important, we get the thrill of performing before a live audience!
I don’t perform because I am not an actor and we have professional actors who do all the acting. But I write most of the pieces we perform, along with my husband, Tom.
So I sit in the audience through the actual shows. It’s not the glamorous place to be. But I can’t tell you how awesome it is to feel the rapt attention of an audience and to hear wave after wave of laughter for something you have written. It’s an experience that is hard to describe. It’s beyond gratifying, approaching incredible!
But that’s the ‘sexy’ part of what we do. Nobody sees what goes on behind the scenes to get our show ready for prime time.
First, there’s the highly unglamorous task of packing up all our volumes of audio equipment. Microphones and mike stands, speakers, tons of wires to hook everything up, props like telephones, gaffers tape (of course), etc., etc. Tom has found canvas bags that fit most of the smaller items. These bags, along with eight bulky music stands, have to be brought up from the basement to the garage.
Then we have to load the car. This is a highly precise and technical operation. Everything only fits if it’s all put in just right. We also have a giant ‘box’ that contains all the mixers and all the audio processing equipment. It’s on wheels but it weighs a ton. We have to jerry-rig ramps with pieces of wood to get this unwieldy piece of equipment up into the back of our SUV. This all takes plenty of blood, sweat and tears.
Once we arrive at our performance venue, the process has to be reversed. The giant box has to make it down the ramp and into the performance space. Everyone in the group chips in to help with all the unloading and setting up.
Setting up music stands
Getting mikes in place
This involves dealing with lots of wires, which always seem to get tangled, no matter how careful you try to be. So untangling long expanses of wires is one of the most time-consuming aspects of the process. Once untangled, the wires all have to be plugged into and hooked up to the right mikes, speakers, outlets or whatever.
Once set up, all the equipment has to be tested and adjusted. If there’s more time before the show starts, we can squeeze in a quick run through of one or two of the more technical pieces.
Tom as actor
Run through before show
The whole process, from arrival on site to show time, takes three hours! After the show, breaking everything down and packing it back up again, only takes about 45 minutes, with everyone helping out. It’s much faster to break down a complex set up than to get it up and running. Thank goodness!
After the show, the cast (and I ) get to go out for drinks and a late lunch or early dinner. Hanging out together is one of the best perks of doing live performances. It’s a great reward for all the hard work we put in to put on a show.
Check out our website at https://www.voicescapesaudiotheater.com and hear some of our fully produced material. Go to our Facebook page and friend and follow us to keep up with what we’re doing as a group and as individual performers.