The Gray Area Season 2

Inside the Gray Area: “The Yellow Wallpaper”

July 28, 2020

Writer and showrunner Edward Champion talks about his audio drama adaptation of the famous Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story. He discusses his great love for the Gilman story, the rarity of art that is still vivacious a hundred years later, Knut Hamsun's Hunger, writing this adaptation while stuck on the season finale, writing the script in two days, why he sometimes writes fast, his gratitude to Jack Ward and the Sonic Society, breaking the rules of Sonic Summerstock Plyahouse (with Jack's approval!), why he cast two actors as The Woman, casting Zack Glassman in a dramatic role to give him an opportunity to flesh out his acting chops, on not boring your actors, splitting up the Woman's lines into narration and dialogue to tighten pacing, recording “live drama” with four actors at once, technical difficulties in postproduction, painstakingly erasing punk bands who were playing loud in the rehearsal space we rented, using iZotope RX and Accusonus to surgically repair audio, how to be faithful to the source while deviating it, the challenge of taking an 1892 story and making it sound as if had been recently published, the use of this audio drama adaptation in classrooms, other audio drama adaptations of “The Yellow Wallpaper” (Campfire Radio, Suspense), using Shepard tones for sound design, adding comedic moments to help the listener get through the dramatic intensity, the disheartening ease with which he was able to address 1892 patriarchy in 2019, references in the show to James Joyce, Ulysses, “A Painful Case,” mixing in Republican men in the background, the great lengths he went to record wallpaper, when other sounds work better in audio drama than real world, why tea keeps cropping up in these radio plays, the reluctance of stories to reveal the truth of parents screaming at their kids, the birth scene, adding a slightly incestuous element to the John and Jenie relationship, pindrops and whooshes as transitions, making the baby of shifting ambiguous age to reflect motherhood as a metaphor, “blessed little goose,” the great energy and commitment that Nicole Papadoupolus and Katrina Clairvoyant brought to The Woman, adding a rumbling earth theme to much of the sound design, the use of metal clanks to reflect The Woman's mind, Beyonce and the cocktail party scene, why Michael Saldate is a great collaborator (and Mike's innate sense of knowing when to camp it up), Doppelgangers, David Lynch, “the baby is fun” vs. “the baby is fine,” coming up with Betty Crocker mantras, recording natural brush sounds in Prospect Park, why he used an 8-btt video game sound for the transformation, why GPS mantras are creepy, why the yellow wallpaper became a literal character, and bruising himself while recording body drop sounds. (Running time: 18 minutes, 46 seconds)

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