Niagara Falls

Notes from the script, by Justin Maxwell:

The VOICE is a sound effect.  It is an articulate part of the mise-en-scene, most easily shown on the page like dialog.  The characters do not hear the voice in a cognitive way, but it penetrates their unconscious.  It is mechanical: Static, badly wired, wax cylinder, bull horn.  It should not be clearly articulate or easily understandable.

This is a poetic meditation on how a city with good resources, location, and one of the seven wonders of the natural world can die. It's a surreal, absurd play in 40 short scenes, each announced and punctuated by The VOICE.  In harmony with concepts spinning in the play's central Whirlpool, I interpreted The VOICE as a swirling of our collective memories and unconscious. I recorded multiple voices reading each line, and manipulated and layered them, exploring rhythm, tone, directionality, and musicality along the way. 

Each of the three playing areas of the piece had a unique soundscape that slowly became more unreal as the play progressed, until the sonic lines between the locations began to blur.  The Mayor's office hummed with fluorescent lights, The Parking Ramp echoed with construction and gull sounds, and The Whirlpool was the grinding, pulsating centerpiece of both the stage and my design.  I stretched and slowed NOAA recordings of the mysterious "bloop" to create the low undercurrent. 

The stage directions allowed me to occasionally "produce stress for the audience" with my soundscapes.  I gave Niagara Falls a constant wall of sound, ranging from subtle to intrusive, interrupted for a few seconds only once.  In some scenes, actors responded to or even screamed their lines over the soundscapes.

Niagara Falls' high suicide rate becomes a plot point (inasmuch as there is a plot). I had the privilege of designing the posters you'll see below, which were signed and raffled off to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

This was my first full production, and remains some of my favorite work. 

...the show is bolstered by...a prominently featured cacophonous sound design by Clare Marie Nemanich.

--Brad Rhines, New Orleans Advocate

Niagara Falls

Written by Justin Maxwell

Produced at The Theatre at St. Claude, New Orleans, LA, 2017

 

The Mistress: Bunny Love

The Kid: Kyle Woods

The Chief: Matthew Mikal

The Wife: Margeaux Fanning

Director: Logan Faust

Stage Manager: Clare Marie Nemanich

Sound Designer: Clare Marie Nemanich

Lighting Designer: Bill Campbell

Set Consultant: David Raphel

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