The True Story of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana the Ugliest Woman In The World

Shaun Prendegast

Dir: Jonathan Fielding

Amphibian Stage Productions

2012

One of my favorite shows ever to work on, “…Julia Pastrana…” took place in the round and entirely in the dark.  In order to enhance the intimate experience, the sound design utilized a mixture of recorded and live sound effects.  Actors operated a plethora of found and built objects and devices.  Many were mobile and able to move up and down the rows of the audience or around their backs.  One favorite was a Fort Worth city recycle bin with lots of small dowel rods attached to the bottom of the wheels.  Along with the classic coconuts and some snapping and jangling of a leather belt and belt buckle, it sounded exactly like a huge horse drawn carriage on a gravelly road moving throughout the audience.

 

I’ve included some snippets of sound cues, items lists, and build lists from various points in the process.  

Production Document Examples
Reviews

Mark Lowry 

TheatreJones

"By taking away one of the major senses—sight—the others are heightened. The main beneficiary of this, of course, is hearing. The descriptions in the text are vivid, and the sound design (by David Lanza) adds to the event of a traveling circus with noises of trains, animals, crowds, crickets and various goings in the next tent over.” 

 

Jerome Weeks 

Art and Seek 

"The Amphibians wanted to use recorded sound effects sparingly, so most of these are done with hand-held devices, devices that can be moved around the audience, even into the audience. Lanza researched old-school theater and radio techniques. He built the wind machine, for instance. It’s basically a wooden barrel wrapped with a window shade. The shade rubs against the barrel when the barrel’s cranked."