The titular birds in Conor McPherson's play are never seen, only heard.
All of the action in this claustrophobic piece takes place in a living room. We decided to stage it in the round, with the audience and actors sharing the small space. With no budget for equipment, I was still able to effectively surround the audience with paranoid pecking and threatening tweets by embedding our two speakers in the audience and using bidirectional sound. My process began with realistic bird sounds, but I took an expressionistic approach, altering and adding effects to suit the mood of the scene.
At its core, this play is not about feathered fiends, or about "nature eating us." It's about a breakdown of communication. As you'll see in the opening scene below, the play begins with the final radio broadcast our characters are able to pick up; though they frequently check the radio later, they only hear static. As the communication and relationships between the characters deteriorate, I used the motif of static to amplify the these moments, eventually blending static and cold wind as they face the inevitability of leaving their shelter for a new home.
This design was nominated for a Big Easy Entertainment Award.
Written by Conor McPherson
Produced at The Theatre at St. Claude, New Orleans, LA, May 2017
Diane: Kathryn Talbot
Nat: Shane LeCocq
Julia: Ashton Akridge
Tierney: Craig Leydecker
Sound Design: Clare Marie Nemanich
Lighting: Bill Campbell
Stage Manager: Susan Lanigan
Video: Bob Krieger