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Creating soundscapes with Kid Simple

February 19, 2013

The current production from Beloit College Theatre, Kid Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh, premieres Thursday (Feb. 21). The comic fable is aptly titled; the play is inspired by old time radio shows and uses a Foley artist—a sound effects guy extraordinaire, basically—to recreate everyday sounds on stage.

Kid Simple publicity 

Director John Kaufmann first encountered the play in a sound-design class in graduate school. He was especially drawn to the unique way that the script utilizes sound, overlapping recorded and live sound effects to create a soundscape that Kaufman likens to a kind of musical score.

“The script is very playful, but I find the language and structure like a beautiful puzzle,” he says of the play. “It was a new challenge for me to work with the cast on overlapping dialogue and hundreds of embedded, live sound effects.”

Kid Simple is the story of Moll (Alice Gehrke’16), a plucky young inventor who crafts a machine that can hear sounds imperceptible to the normal human ear. When the machine is stolen by a supernatural mercenary (Ben Vogt’14), Moll enlists the help of the last boy virgin of the 11th-grade and sets off to save sound as we know it.

Jishnu Guha’13 performs as the Foley artist, and is on stage for the entire production. He has been working on the sound design, which employs over 300 sound cues and the voice-over talent of 21 students and faculty members, as a special project with Kaufman since the fall semester.

Using everyday objects Guha has had to recreate the sounds of a spider walking on tippy-toe, a ripening fig, and a solitary jelly, among many others.

“I've never been given such an exciting opportunity both with so much responsibility as well as a lot of creative freedom to explore and play around with,” says Guha of his role in the show. Next Thursday,  Feb. 28 he will be leading a post-show discussion about his process and experience creating sound for the play.

Kaufmann encourages audience members to come early to the show since a few sound effects are recorded with the audience right before the show.

“Sounds become detached from sources, voices and meaning in the show,” says Kaufman. “The play is a 90-minute feast for the senses!”

Kid Simple premieres Thursday (Feb. 21) at 8 p.m. in the Kresage Theater. Admission is $8.50 ($5 for seniors and faculty, $4 for students).The box office is open Monday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., and you can order tickets over the phone by calling ext. 2755.

For mature audiences. Language and subject matter may not be appropriate for children.