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Welcome to the Arden Theatre Company blog, where we share behind-the-scenes stories and current happenings with you. You will hear from the Arden staff as well as actors and other visiting artists, and we hope to hear from you, too. If you have an idea for a topic, please post a comment about it. We can't wait to hear what you think!

Dan Perelstein is the Sound Designer for the Jungle Book. He was also the sound designer for Robin Hood and Pinocchio here at the Arden. Dan works on a lot of shows for adults, but he especially likes doing Arden Children’s Theatre!


Sean Lally and Taysha Canales are two of the actors who provided some of the sounds you heard recorded in THE JUNGLE BOOK

Sean Lally and Taysha Canales are two of the actors who provided some of the sounds you heard recorded in THE JUNGLE BOOK

Close your eyes for a few minutes and listen to all the sounds around you. What can you tell about your surroundings from what you hear? Is there music playing? Can you hear a dog barking or a car driving by? Do you hear the dishwasher or the TV or someone flushing the toilet? Even when no one is talking, we pick up a lot with our ears that can tell us where we are, who is there, and what is happening.

When you watch a theatre performance you are also listening to it, and that’s where I come in. The sound designer is the person who thinks about how to tell the story through sound and music. Sometimes this is recorded ahead of time and played through the speakers like the music you heard in Jungle Book. Sometimes these are sounds the actors make live onstage like when the wolves howl. I work with the actors and the director to make sure that all the sounds come together to tell the same story.

For example, in this clip, I recorded the actors making animal sounds, and then used those sounds as a background sound for this piece of music! See if you can hear different animals!

Activity 1

Remember in the play when Mowgli jumps into the pool of water? If you were the sound designer of the play, what sounds would you use to tell the story? Write down some of the sounds you would want to hear. Now, think about how you could make those sounds using just the things you have in your house. Without getting your whole house wet, how can you make it sound like Mowgli has jumped into a pool of water?

Activity 2

Choose an animal from the jungle. Think about what sounds that animal makes. Does your animal roar? Or croak? Or whistle? Try a few different kinds of roars, croaks, whistles, etc. Which one sounds most like the animal you are trying to imitate?

Go Further: Record yourself making some of these sounds. How do they sound when you play them back? Can you speed them up or slow them down? How does that change them?

In Beauty and the Beast, we use a lot of small objects to create big shadows!  Those shadows create the rose garden, the wolves, Belle’s bed, and more!  Making shadow puppets of your own is easy, and a great way to tell your very own stories!  We asked Sebastienne Mundheim of White Box Theatre, who created all of the shadow puppets that we use in our show, to tell you a little bit about how she makes them so you can try it yourself! 

You can make a shadow puppet using stiff paper and a pair of scissors and a little tape or glue.  If you are older you might use an x-acto knife which is tool some people use for cutting very exact lines into paper.  I like just using scissors.

I start by making a drawing of a character or an object on the stiff paper.

I cut out the big outline first.

Then I use my scissors to cut out the most important lines inside the drawing.  I have to choose carefully so I don’t cut too many lines.

Sebastienne at work cutting puppets

Sebastienne at work cutting puppets

CHOOSING WHAT KINDS OF LINES TO MAKE:

I like to make lines that show the action, gesture or expression in the drawing.

That means lines that show where parts of the body might change direction.

Smiling mouths and eyes give expression and change the direction of the face. Your mouth and eyes have lines that express happiness, sadness, surprise.

If you turn your head, you can feel where your skin crunches together between your chin and your neck.

Or if you bend your knee, there is also a line on the back of your leg where the skin folds or crunches together.

I think about which of those lines tell the most about the character I am making.  Is it most important that my character is running?  Smiling?  Jumping? How do the lines I make show that?

For example, when I made the running wolves in Beauty and the Beast I made a very few simple lines to show their muscles and how active they are.

Some people like to make lines that show the decoration on something — the textures or patterns of clothing.  See if you can notice different kinds of lines in the world around you.  Ones that show gesture or expression or ones that show texture and pattern.

CUTTING

Once I have made my drawing I cut out the big shape and then I cut away the important lines.  For me those are the lines that show the most expression or gesture.

If I need to get into the middle of the paper to get to my line, I just cut straight to my line and cut away the section where I want the gesture to show.  I tape up the cut I made to get into the center.

I check my cut outs as I go by holding them up to the light to see how the shadow looks.

That’s the best part.  The shadows are always beautiful.

Different kinds of lights make different shadows.  We use a single bulb LED flashlight for our show.  It makes a really clear shadow!  But the sun makes good shadows too!

Take a look at these photos of us experimenting with our shadow puppets and lights to see what would look the best!

 

Testing some of the shadows used in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Testing some of the shadows used in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

YOU can make shadow puppets at home, just like the ones we use onstage in Beauty and the Beast!  With those shadow puppets, you can create a new imaginary world of your own and tell your own stories at home!  If you make a shadow puppet, have an adult help you take a picture of the shadow it creates and share it with us on social media! Make sure to use the hashtag #ArdenBeast so that we see your photo. 

Everyone who shares their shadow puppet photo with us will be entered to win four tickets to see The Jungle Book this spring.

 

©2009 Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122.
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