MARSHALL - For almost five years, the Marshall Area Stage Company has put on an old-time radio drama, complete with sound effects.
Paula Nemes, who usually directs the radio dramas, normally has a table laden with various objects, from New Year's Eve noisemakers to rain sticks to a wire hanger attached to a plastic shower curtain rod to create the different sound effects necessary for each show.
MASC is performing the radio drama "Frankenstein" at 7 p.m. Oct. 21-22 and 2 p.m. Oct. 23 in Charter Hall 201 at Southwest Minnesota State University. It will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 on KMHL.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Maureen Keimig, Nathaniel Gates and Eukariah Tabaka use different items, such as videocassette tape, a rain stick and a metal “thunder” sheet to make sound effects during a rehearsal of Marshall Area Stage Company’s “Frankenstein.”
Earlier in the week, the crew helping make the sound effects that are heard on the KMHL broadcast worked with Nemes on the timing of the effects and what object would best make the sound.
"That's more important to a radio show (the sound effects)," said Maureen Keimig, who plays Justine in "Frankenstein," as well as helping out with sound effects.
Nemes said it "takes a lot of trial and error" to create the sound effects. She buys a lot of things at thrift stores and Goodwills and tries them out by "making noise around the house."
"There's websites were they explain how some (sound effects) are made," Nemes said.
There are also books about what was used in the old-time radio shows to make the sound effects.
"They have a lot of suggestions," Nemes said.
A couple of the objects that are always used in each show include a small doorway and a wind machine, both built by MASC president Bob Schwoch. Judy Houselog is running the wind machine for "Frankenstein." Houselog said the wind machine is basically plywood, a road with a cloth over it. It is cranked in a circular motion to make the "wind" sound.
To make the sound of the characters walking from room to room, the sound effects crew members tap shoes against a board.
"We always get the different types of shoes," Houselog said.
And the shoes are specific for the characters.
"Want heels for the female?" Houselog asked Nemes.
"Yep," Nemes answered.
Nemes said doors, wind and shoes are used in pretty much all of the MASC radio shows. Footsteps are the hardest sound effects to make, she added.
"There's a certain rhythm to it," she said. Plus there are different surfaces and the size of the person, she said.
The crew tried different things to make a particular sound effect, first starting on a fuse box, then some metal sheeting.
"That's too tinny," Houselog said about the sheeting.
Nemes sometimes turns to the internet when figuring out how to make a particular sound come through.
"I found it on Google," Nemes said about using the wire hanger and shower curtain rod combination. She said she was looking for a way to make a "creaky" sound effect and found it on a sound effects website.
The tape from inside a video cassette is being used to create the sound of rustling grass. Water is also used a lot in shows, Nemes aid.
Those who do the sound effects during a show have to watch the script to know when to bring a certain effect in.
"Do I need to blow these up for the gunshots," Eukariah Tabaka asked Nemes as he held up a bag of balloons. Nemes nodded.
Nemes said gunshots have been a challenge. One time, she tried using cap guns for the effect.
"You can't depend on it making the noise when you need it," she said.
During rehearsal, Nathaniel Gates thumped the microphone to represent Frankenstein's monster coming to life during an important scene in the show. Emilirose Rasmusson, who was helping with sound during the rehearsal, said the heartbeat sound needed to be deeper.
"We need to be more resonant," Nemes said about the heartbeat.
"It's one thing to hear it in front of you, but over the microphone, it's different," Nemes added.