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30 Years of ARTC: Frontier Days and Tomato Festival

This being our 30th anniversary, we thought we’d dip back into the past and recap some of our previous performances, triumphs and tragedies, in a series of posts. And don’t forget our Chronology! It’s not as detailed, but it really shows the growth of ARTC over the years.

This week we’re bringing you two events at once! The Tomato Festival and Frontier Days, both at Stone Mountain Park.

ARTC in a rare outdoor performance.
Outdoor venues. Not for the faint of heart.

The first thing you’ll notice about this performance at the Tomato Festival is that it’s outdoors. We’re not terribly fond of outdoor venues for a variety of reasons, but this show was a ton of fun.

Megan Tindale performs at the Tomato Festival
Megan Tindale

One reason why we don’t care for the outdoors much is that the weather is going to either be good or bad. If it’s good, then people aren’t likely to stick around to hear a radio performance no matter how good it sounds. If it’s bad then everybody probably stayed home or ran indoors. Also, it can get hot out there!

Foley at the Tomato Festival
Foley at the Tomato Festival

Another reason is acoustics and unwanted sounds. At an indoor venue such as the Academy Theatre or even Dragon Con, we have a certain amount of control over how things sound. Outdoors, anything can happen. And we have to crank the volume up a little louder than normal because there are no walls for the sound to bounce off of!

Umbrellas go up as it begins to rain at Frontier Days
Umbrellas go up as it begins to rain at Frontier Days

But the number one reason we don’t like outdoor venues is because of our experience at Frontier Days and our cautionary tale of how great ideas can go wrong. Frontier Days was a celebration of the time between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War here in Georgia. We’d actually had to write a bunch of new scripts just to make sure we had some content for this show, and we were eager to debut them. And then it rained.

When the rain let up, the festival continued. They had strolling characters and reenacters and all kinds of fun stuff, including one gentleman who was demonstrating an actual black powder musket. We thought this was brilliant and, since one of our brand new scripts, The Legend of Nancy Morgan Hart, called for a gunshot, we thought this was an excellent opportunity to incorporate some live Foley into the show. We rehearsed it and everything went off without a hitch.

Then we performed it. At the critical moment, when our heroine is supposed to shoot one of the soldiers who has invaded her house, the musket misfired. All we got was a click. And the very next line was supposed to be “She shot him!” There was a pause on stage. The actors all looked at one another, and then at the Foley table who shrugged their shoulders helplessly. And then Geoffry Brown uttered the line that will live forever in ARTC history: “She poisoned me!” and David Benedict could only reply: “She poisoned him! Right there!”.

And the worst part is that, due to a technical glitch, we don’t even have a recording!!

Elayna Little Cook and Oreta Sarah Taylor on top of Stone Mountain
Elayna Little Cook and Oreta Sarah Taylor on top of Stone Mountain

But there are worse ways to spend your day than at Stone Mountain Park, even on an overcast and slightly rainy day. And we don’t remember if the walkie-talkies reached all the way back to the performance site.

Oreta Sarah Taylor, Megan Tindale, and David Benedict look out over the grand vistas surrounding Stone Mountain.
Oreta Sarah Taylor, Megan Tindale, and David Benedict look out over the grand vistas surrounding Stone Mountain.

We really did have a fun time doing these shows. 🙂

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30 Years of ARTC: Sci Fi Summer 2004

This being our 30th anniversary, we thought we’d dip back into the past and recap some of our previous performances, triumphs and tragedies, in a series of posts. And don’t forget our Chronology! It’s not as detailed, but it really shows the growth of ARTC over the years. You can see all of the photos in their full size on our Flickr album!

The convention scene has always been kind to ARTC. We get our biggest audiences, attract our most fervent fans, and have our biggest sales. We also have our best guest stars, and in 2004 we had the honor of performing alongside Lisa Getto at Sci Fi Summer.

Bill Ritch and Lisa Getto do a quick sound check.
Bill Ritch and Lisa Getto do a quick sound check.

Lisa was a great guest star. We actually don’t really know what she’s been up to lately, but if anybody has any info we’d love to catch up with her. She brought a talent to the show that really enhanced everyone’s performances and was a pleasure to work with!

Clair W. Kiernan preparing to sing bad karaoke in
Clair W. Kiernan preparing to sing bad karaoke in Rory Rammer, Space Marshal: Luna Shall Be Dry!

For our show selections, we went back to an old concept of Thomas E. Fuller’s, which was the idea of having a fictional radio network that broadcast old-time radio shows that were all in a similar vein. Occasionally one show would have a vague reference to another just to imply they were all in the same universe, but they didn’t really overlap. The concept was called the WOLF Broadcasting Network and we hope to get a bunch of these series into the studio very soon!

Phil Carter, Clair W. Kiernan, Megan Tindale, and Sketch MacQuinor in an episode of
Phil Carter, Clair W. Kiernan, Megan Tindale, and Sketch MacQuinor in an episode of Terra Tarkington: Interstellar Nurse’s Corps.

Among these shows were Terra Tarkington: Interstellar Nurses Corps by Wendy Webb, adapted from a story by Sharon Webb. This series tells the story of the intrepid Terra Tarkington and her adventures in the outer orbits with her beloved Dr. Brian-Scott.

Foley setup for Sci Fi Summer
Foley setup for Sci Fi Summer

We also included an episode of The Crimson Hawk. One of the great things about these kinds of shows is that they tend to be heavy on Foley. Some of our more elaborate productions make extensive use of recorded sound effects in order to keep the atmosphere more real, but in these shows we’re hearkening back to the days of old-time radio and so a little extra Foley is completely appropriate.

Cast members hold a makeshift sign that reads
The infamous “Yay!” of Rory Rammer.

Two episodes of Rory Rammer, Space Marshal were included. You can always tell when we’re doing Rory because of the infamous “Yay!” You can also tell when we forgot the sign and had to make a new one on the spot. Hey, give us a break. If you could see how much stuff we have to bring to a show, you’d be surprised we don’t forget more stuff.

Join us again next week for more 30th anniversary fun!

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30 Years of ARTC: Costume Con 2004

This being our 30th anniversary, we thought we’d dip back into the past and recap some of our previous performances, triumphs and tragedies, in a series of posts. And don’t forget our Chronology! It’s not as detailed, but it really shows the growth of ARTC over the years. You can see all of the photos in their full size on our Flickr album!

Y’know, a few posts ago we said that we didn’t do shows in costume very much. But the 2003-2004 time period was an exception to this rule, as Costume Con 22 was hosted in Atlanta. And when you perform at Costume Con…you gotta be in costume!

This year we performed Fiona K. Leonard’s play, Kissed by a Stranger.

Phil Carter, Megan Tindale, and Geoffrey Brown in Kissed by a Stranger
Phil Carter, Megan Tindale, and Geoffrey Brown in Kissed by a Stranger

When you’re in a radio group, you don’t always think about costumes. But sometimes you do. We’ve got a wide range of talents in ARTC and costuming is a passion for several of our members. Others, not so much. So what you get is a fairly diverse selection in terms of quality of workmanship. The above picture represents three of the really good ones.

David Benedict and Clair W. Kiernan
David Benedict and Clair W. Kiernan

This performance also represented one of our best audiences. They really got into the performance, even going so far as to hiss at the villain.

Sonya with Sarah Taylor at the Foley table.
Sonya with Sarah Taylor at the Foley table.

In some of our horror and science fiction pieces, we rely fairly extensively on recorded sound effects to achieve a certain atmosphere. People often ask us how we decide, and it’s a bit of a process, actually. First we decide what kind of piece are we doing and how much realism we need the audience to experience. Comedies use more Foley, serious horror uses more recorded SFX. But we also look at how much is going on at the Foley table at any given time. Already doing footsteps, dropping some tin cans, and opening the door? That thunder is more likely to be recorded. If nothing else is going on and the piece calls for it, we might use the thunderball (a punch balloon filled with BBs).

In Kissed by a Stranger Foley played a big role.

Joel Abbott and Bill Ritch at the tech table.
Joel Abbott and Bill Ritch at the tech table.

If you were at this show, you may remember a recorded sound effect that went off at the wrong time. Let’s just say a clock chiming creates a much different effect than a gunshot! But the correct effect was triggered and all was well.

Alton Leonard, Clair W. Kiernan, and Megan Tindale address the microphones.
Alton Leonard, Clair W. Kiernan, and Megan Tindale address the microphones.

This convention was a ton of fun. If they ever come back to Atlanta, we’d be glad to perform for them again!

Fiona K. Leonard and Jack Mayfield demonstrate the gravity of the situation.
Fiona K. Leonard and Jack Mayfield demonstrate the gravity of the situation.
Joel Abbott and Megan Tindale.
Joel Abbott and Megan Tindale.

Be sure to see the rest of the pics on Flickr!

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The Doom of the Mummy part 3 of 4

Size: 12M, Duration: 20:52

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This month we continue with 2008’s presentation of The Doom of the Mummy by William Alan Ritch, performed live at Dragon Con.

Lori Emerson, Floor Manager extraordinaire.
Lori Emerson, Floor Manager extraordinaire.

We’d like to take a moment to highlight one of the roles in the company that isn’t often appreciated by the audience, but is crucial to a successful performance, and that is the role of Floor Manager/Stage Manager. These days that vital function is fulfilled by Patti Ward (who will get her own feature posting soon!), but in 2008 and for many years before and after it was Lori Emerson.

Lori’s moved on to bigger and better things, but she did a stellar job for us as Floor Manager.

For those of you who might not know, the Floor Manager’s job is to be the primary liaison between the actors, the director, and the technical staff. They herd cats (aka wrangle actors into position), convey messages between groups, do a little script supervision, and provide timing cues to actors.

The presence of a good Floor Manager can literally be the difference between an amazing show and a sloppy show and we’ve been very lucky to have several work with us over the years. The Doom of the Mummy has so much going on with so many different musical instruments, a Floor Manager was absolutely essential.

Thanks, Lori! You’re welcome back with us if your path ever brings you back to this neck of the woods! And thanks also to all the Floor Managers everywhere!

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30 Years of ARTC: Dragon Con 2003

This being our 30th anniversary, we thought we’d dip back into the past and recap some of our previous performances, triumphs and tragedies, in a series of posts. And don’t forget our Chronology! It’s not as detailed, but it really shows the growth of ARTC over the years. You can see all of the photos in their full size on our Flickr album!

We don’t often get a chance to show off our rehearsal process. Unless of course you’re interested in joining us, in which case feel free to come on by.

ARTC rehearsing for Dragon Con 2003
ARTC rehearsing for Dragon Con 2003

Here you see the state-of-the-art Ritch/Wilbanks Arts Center, where we do the majority of our rehearsals. In 2003 we performed The Island of Dr. Moreau and Can You Hear Me? at Dragon Con, so we had to kind of pack in the actors. Moreau in particular requires a big cast because of the chorus of beast men.

Matt Ceccato and Trudy Leonard lead the beast men chorus.
Matt Ceccato and Trudy Leonard lead the beast men chorus.

The chorus requires a rhythm and a leader, which in this production were provided by Matt Ceccato and Trudy Leonard. Wrangling beast men is hard work!

Rehearsals are usually a good time.
Rehearsals are usually a good time.

It’s serious work getting ready for a major convention. But it’s also a ton of fun. We couldn’t have done it for the past 30 years if it weren’t!

Getting ready for showtime!
Getting ready for showtime!

And before you know it, the day is upon you and you’re getting ready for the show! Our setup looks a lot different now, but there’s still just as many wires. If anybody knows how to make copper less heavy, please let us know!

The ARTC sales table in 2003.
The ARTC sales table in 2003.

The unsung heroes of the convention, the ARTC sales team. Please note the number of cassettes on that table. Oh, how far we’ve come! And at this year’s convention, not only will we have some new CDs, but we’ll also have some digital-only releases that you can buy on a flash drive!

James Leary performing with ARTC.
James Leary performing with ARTC.

We also welcomed special guest James Leary to the show! At the time, he was best known as Clem on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Doug Kaye accepts the ARTC Lifetime Achievement Award.
Doug Kaye accepts the ARTC Lifetime Achievement Award.

And we awarded the Thomas E. Fuller Lifetime Achievement Award to Doug Kaye!

It was a great year! Be sure to check out the rest of the photos on Flickr!

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Noir in the Naked City – Episode Six: Sexy Sex Sex

Naked City Atlanta logoNaked City is a monthly live literary event held at the Goat Farm in Atlanta. Each month, the hosts reveal the theme for the next month and people sign up for the privelege of getting five minutes to speak, sing, or do whatever on the subject of the theme. Go over your five minutes? Then you must spin the Wheel of Consequences!

Naked City’s website
Naked City’s Facebook page

Starting in February, I began a writing challenge for myself: A crowd-influenced serial called Noir in the Naked City where, at the end of each episode, the protagonist would be faced with a choice. The audience would make the decision for the character, and then the next episode would be written with that choice in mind AND on the next month’s theme.


Episode Six: Sexy Sex Sex

Ever feel like you weren’t really in control of your own destiny? I feel like that all the time. Little invisible strings pulling at me, tugging at my mind, and sometimes even turning the world around to make sure I go a certain way.

As we tried to shake the car tailing us, Gus, the driver, grumbled under his breath. “What’s it gonna be, you two?” he growled.

“Fine,” Abigail said with poor grace. “We’ll do it your way. Gus, take us to the Empire Night Club.”

Gus grunted in acknowledgement and hit the accelerator. Abigail looked through the back window at the car tailing us and then turned back to me, the look in her pale green eyes turning my brain to a fine, gritty powder and my heart into an alien about to burst out of my chest. There was passion there, but I couldn’t tell what kind. I suddenly felt underdressed.

“Lost ‘em,” Gus said a few moments later, a smug sense of pride in his voice. “We’ll be at the night club in about another ten minutes.”

I shook my head. I needed to focus, but she was making it really … difficult for me. I hadn’t met a dame like this in a long time. Oh, there’d been plenty to turn my head. The Nazi dame who’d recruited me for her new world order had a body that spoke the language of sin as fluently as any I’d ever seen. Women didn’t always find me attractive at first, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve that my extra flexibility helps out with and the animal part of me wanted to show her all of them.

But that was all just physical. Abigail was something else entirely. She wasn’t classically beautiful, but she had a magnetism about her that accentuated all of her best assets. The flaming red hair, cut to a short and severe length, the shape of her legs, lean and strong, in that black skirt that was surely too short for this kind of work, and the way she carried herself, knowing that she could break you, do it slowly, and that you’d enjoy it until the last horrifying moment. And that smile. I had only seen it for an instant when Gus said we’d lost the tail, and even then it was a grim, forbidding curl of her vermilion lips. It was a smile that spoke of revenge more than joy, betrayed more determination than happiness, and hinted at deadly doom for any who dared to cross her. It thrilled me in ways I had figured myself too jaded and cynical to feel, and I found myself trying to think of ways to get her to do it more often.

I shook my head again. But thoughts that had no business on this case kept intruding. I found myself longing to explore every curve and crevice, listening to every gasp and sigh, and feeling the tension and relaxation that would betray her attempts to dismiss me as the stereotypical limp private dick. But I also found myself wanting more than that. I wanted to find that romantic part of her that I knew was buried deep down and nurture it.

At last the car slowed and came to a stop at the Empire Night Club. She got out first and strode towards the door. I tried not to think about what those legs could do besides walk in those ankle-high boots and drive me to distraction. Gus got out next and took a furtive look around.

She turned and saw me still sitting there. “Detective?” she asked, her voice cutting through my reverie. “Are you coming?”

Declining to answer, I got out of the car, shambled to the door, and rapped smartly on the glass. It was eventually answered by a small, mousy guy with spectacles whose lenses distorted his eyes, giving him a perpetual look like a bassett hound that had been cutting an onion. He wore a white shirt, a haggard look, and a tacky brown and blue striped necktie, loosly wound around his neck. A fleeting image of Abigail wearing nothing but that tie slid through my brain and I shook my head again.

After a moment’s pause he asked “What?”

“Ain’tcha gonna invite me inside for a drink?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.  Another pause.

“I’m here about the murder,” I said. Two can play this game, even if some of the pieces are missing and the dice are loaded. Best to keep it simple. Stick to what he can understand.

“Murder?” he laughed.  “Sorry, we’re fresh out of murder.  Come back in a few hours and I can get you a grilled cheese or somethin’”

“You know what I’m talkin’ about, Murray,” I said.

“So what if I do?  Sure, I heard about it.  Sure, I got somethin’ you might find interestin’.  But I ain’t gonna tell you, and that’s out of pure spite.  You had a real good thing goin’ and you blew it, and now you want me to help you?  Well ain’t that just dandy?”

“Look,” I began…

“No, you look.  I don’t remember seein’ my name in the paper about a year ago. It shoulda been there. We all shoulda been there. But we weren’t because you hadda keep your little secret. Well you can take it to your grave now for all I care.  Now get outta my doorway before you scare the customers.”

Murray closed the door roughly in my face and pulled the blind.  A moment later a hand reached through the slats, rotated the sign hanging on the inside from “Open” to “Closed”, gave me the finger, and withdrew.

“Now what, detective?” Abigail asked, the scorn in her voice withering the hopes I’d been nurturing during the car ride over.

“Now you come with us,” a voice said. I turned and saw the Nazi dame. She was dressed to kill and armed to maim with a pistol.

Gus cracked his knuckles. Abigail looked at me. “Your choice, detective. You wanna go with her or go find your brother?”

“Your brother?” the dame said, laughing. “Who do you think told us you’d come here? He’s with us, detective.”

Abigail scowled. “She’s lying, detective. That’s impossible.”

CHOICE: Who to believe? Go with Abigail or with the Nazi dame?

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30 Years of ARTC – Harry Potter at Barnes and Noble 2003

This being our 30th anniversary, we thought we’d dip back into the past and recap some of our previous performances, triumphs and tragedies, in a series of posts. And don’t forget our Chronology! It’s not as detailed, but it really shows the growth of ARTC over the years. You can see all of the photos in their full size on our Flickr album!

As anybody who has seen us perform live knows, we don’t often go in for costumes. We also pride ourselves on performing original material. But who could resist the opportunity to come celebrate the release of the newest Harry Potter book?? In 2003 Barnes and Noble Perimeter invited us to come bring Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to the citizens of Atlanta. We were competing against parties citywide, but we like to think we represented ourselves quite well against the other (somewhat mundane) readings and magicians that were peppering the landscape at that time.

ARTC in costume!
ARTC in costume!

This was actually a lot more work than you might imagine. First, we had to find a way to make it more like our style of audio drama, but we couldn’t do a straight up adaptation. It’s not our work, so we didn’t feel free to dramatize it the way we would normally. What we eventually settled on was a melding of an audiobook and an audio drama, where a narrator would carry most of the reading and characters would come in as appropriate to speak their dialogue. We did take the step of eliminating many of the “he said/she said” narrations to make it flow a little better.

Casting a spell on the audience.
Casting a spell on the audience.

 

Another big challenge was picking which chapters we wanted to read. Obviously we couldn’t read all of the previous four books, so we picked and chose based on our favorites and also on some scenes that the movies had left out.

Foley for the performance.
Foley for the performance.

Of course we also had live Foley sound effects. It was really gratifying to see the Foley artists get so much attention at this event. Of course we also had a few unwanted sound effects from the coffee bar behind us.

Our attentive audience.
Our attentive audience.

It was definitely an unusual venue, but also festive! We ran contests, did giveaways, and there was trivia. Everybody had an amazingly good time. We could see some adults in the crowd who had some familiarity with our craft having a grand time, plus the kids who had never seen anything like this before were enraptured. Of course some of it was the content, but many of them were enjoying experiencing it in a whole new way.

Jack Mayfield's Harry looks nervous.
Jack Mayfield’s Harry looks nervous.

And at midnight we unveiled the greatest surprise of all. When the boxes were cracked open, we pulled out our own copies and began reading from the first chapter of the new book as the audience broke ranks and made for the checkout counters. I think a lot of them appreciated being able to get a head start on their reading by having us perform it for them while they were waiting in line. Especially since Order of the Phoenix got off to such a dramatic start with a chapter entitled “Dudley Demented”.