The Gray Area Season 2
10.5. Paths Not Taken: Canny Valley
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10.5. Paths Not Taken: Canny Valley

July 28, 2020

In this “screwball cyberpunk” episode, it’s 2023. Labor camps, a sinister government, and significant civil unrest rollick the world outside. But within the secret chambers of the multibillion tech company Apotheosis, an optimistic entrepreneur named Jill Swanson, who names her engineers after 1930s comedy film directors, sits on a secret that may just save the world. (Running time: 71 minutes, 6 seconds)

Written, produced, and directed by Edward Champion

CAST:

Jan Swillson: Ingeborg Reidmeier
Lane Veldt: Adriano La Rocca
Brianna: Samantha Cooper
Jenna: Devony DiMattia
Rochford: Rachel Baird
The Executive: Rachel Matusewicz
Mutt: David McCall
Jeff: Matthew Rini
Preston: Richard Rose
Sturges: Len Nash
La Cava: Luvelle Pierre
Hawks: David Perez-Ribada
News Anchor: Carol Jacobanis
Amelia: Monica Ammerman
Protester #1: Nicholas Boesel
Protester #2: Khaz Benyahmeen
The Preacher: Peter Andrews
and Zack Glassman appeared as The Receptionist

Creature Voices by Samantha Cooper and Rachel Baird

Sound design, editing, engineering, and mastering by a bald man in Brooklyn who has a ridiculously enormous crush on D'Arcy Carden for her magnificent smarts and great talent.

The “Paths Not Taken” songs were written and performed by Edward Chmpion

 

Incidental music licensed through Neosounds and MusicFox.

Thank you for listening!

Inside the Gray Area: “Unfound Door”
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Inside the Gray Area: “Unfound Door”

July 28, 2020

Writer and showrunner Edward Champion continues the deep drive with the fourth “Paths” installment. He discusses why the “Paths” songs deliberately match the chord progressions of Top 40 hits, Janis Joplin, overlapping cliffhangers inspired by Doctor Who, the mediocrity of Chris Chibnall, Dark Shadows, how imagination can make up for a meager production budget, the influence of the Doctor Who serial “Inferno,” why Liz Shaw was an underrated companion, where the name Greg Sutton comes from, creating a creature character, defying the cliches of how people react to strange creatures, acknowledging the feelings of animals, Father Knows Best, dorky American nostalgia, breaking the rules of time travel narratives by acknowledging human truths, attempts to understand why “Little Yellow Different” keeps coming up in the scripts, blogs from the 90s and early 2000s, how to get characters to buy into parallel universes, the importance of extraordinary situations in storytelling, how characters expressing doubt creates verisimilitude, Doppelgangers, The Good Place, how he helped Katrina Clairvoyant to recite Prometheus Unbound, the influence of Shelley's Prometheus Unbound on the “Paths Not Taken” story structure, the myth of Prometheus, the connection between fire and Bonfire, Aeschylus, Demogorgon and the underworld, tyranny and the liberation of human society, when other people perceive you to be the devil, the likable character debate, Melissa Etheridge, setting up story elements to create narrative points to resolve later, the Damon Lindelof problem, why it's important to have multiple characters react differently to a situation, fleshing out the Receptionist's character, how Monty Python and the Meaning of Life influenced a joke about the universes, Back to the Future, relationships as a ticking clock, being true to lesbian subculture, hookup culture, and being self-critical. (Running time: 19 minutes, 25 seconds)

 

10.4. Paths Not Taken: Unfound Door
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10.4. Paths Not Taken: Unfound Door

July 28, 2020

Confronted with surprise revelations and the need to reconcile two parallel universes, Chelsea faces the hard truths about what sustaining a relationship really means while cleaning up a cosmic disturbance that no human being could have ever predicted. Meanwhile, a Melissa Etheridge T-shirt proves to be an invaluable remedy as our heroes contend with a giant heart that beats to the rhythm of time. (Running time: 31 minutes)

Written, produced, and directed by Edward Champion

CAST:

Chelsea: Katrina Clairvoyant
Maya: Tanja Milojevic
Alicia: Elizabeth Rimar
Scarlett: Jessica Cuesta
and Zack Glassman as The Receptionist

Creature Voices by Samantha Cooper and Rachel Baird

Sound design, editing, engineering, and mastering by a bald man in Brooklyn who once sang “Piano Man” in a karaoke bar with a harmonica and got the entire crowd to sing along.

The “Paths Not Taken” songs were written and performed by Edward Chmpion

Incidental music licensed through Neosounds and MusicFox.

Thank you for listening!

Inside the Gray Area: “Same Age Inside”
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Inside the Gray Area: “Same Age Inside”

July 28, 2020

Writer and showrunner Edward Champion discusses the third installment of “Paths Not Taken,” delving into the origins of the songs, why he unintentionally ended up singing the songs, how the pandemic affected production, the origins of the electromatter scanner sound effect, recording glasses and bicycle bells, how you can find new sounds by altering pitch and speed, the influence of Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver, on making an action-driven episode, how the music is selected, talks with composers, how losing income during the pandemic influenced creative choices, the best music licensing services to use for audio drama, strategies on how to license music on a limited budget, lessons he learned from Jim Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise, the sound design inside the dumpster, how the video game Beatbuddy: Tales of the Guardians gave him an idea on how to shape the story's atmosphere, balancing the “Rick and Morty shit” with realism, Chester's sound design and the pivotal assistance from Samantha Cooper and Rachel Baird in making this happen, why Zack Glassman is such a joy to work with, why the Receptionist is a childlike character, why it's important to combat dishonest character purity in narrative, phony virtue, It's a Wonderful Life, how schoolyard bullies inspired a plot twist, why Tony Danza is such an important part of The Gray Area, how a modest acting choice from Katrina Clairvoyant created a character dynamic, developing “Doc Brown mode” with Zack, how to create a realistic alien observational perspective, how “controversial” artistic choices emerge subconsciously from a commitment to realism and instinct, callbacks to “Waiting Room,” the surprisingly difficult efforts it took to find a taxi credit card machine from the 2010s, how common sounds are disappearing faster than you might expect, Lost, how a commitment to verisimilitude transforms art into a kind of accidental history, World War I research, more on Richard Aldington's Death of a Hero, plans for Season 3, recording Zack singing in the shower, establishing subtle story details that will pay off later, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, some of the crazy responses to the pandemic, why it's important to always invent ever more outlandish ideas for the sake of realism, depicting the unspeakable truths about business phone calls, honoring lost sounds, how to plant questions about the true stability of a relationship, the influence of Ghostbusters and the PKE meter, and why Chester got a big choir. (Running time: 24 minutes, 25 seconds)

10.3. Paths Not Taken: Same Age Inside
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10.3. Paths Not Taken: Same Age Inside

July 28, 2020

While on the run from a wild interdimensional beast named Chester, Chelsea learns of electromatter, the surprising ubiquity of Tony Danza, and the multiverse. But the alarming differences she discovers about the universe she’s become part of threaten to topple her efforts to reconnect with Maya and Alicia. (Running time: 26 minutes, 25 seconds)

Written, produced, and directed by Edward Champion

CAST:

Chelsea: Katrina Clairvoyant
Alicia: Elizabeth Rimar
Maya: Tanja Milojevic
Jill Swanson: Ingeborg Reidmeier
and Zack Glassman appeared as The Receptionist

Background Voices by Alexander Bill, Brandon P. Jenkins, and Tal Minear
Creature Voices by Samantha Cooper and Rachel Baird

Sound design, editing, engineering, and mastering by a bald man in Brooklyn who once grew a mustache and shaved it off two weeks later because he looked preposterous.

The “Paths Not Taken” songs were written and performed by Edward Chmpion

Incidental music licensed through Neosounds and MusicFox.

Image licensed by Getty.

Thank you for listening!

Inside the Gray Area; “The First Illusion”
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Inside the Gray Area; “The First Illusion”

July 28, 2020

Writer and showrunner Edward Champion continues with his thoughts on “Paths Not Taken.” In this installment, he discusses theoretical plumbing, the problems with the royal we, what “the first illusion” may be, the 1994 flashback, his surprise during the casting at the enthusiasm of teen actors (and their parents) for candid dialogue, the incredible combination of Emma Smuyla and Nat Kane, why he went all the way to Vermont to record some of this episode, the unexpected joys of writing teen dialogue, why it's vital to show behavioral patterns over the course of a character's lifetime in art, Madonna and David Letterman, the important connection between queer representation and feminism, how the timing of the Letterman appearance inspired a plot twist, what it was like to try and purchase Madonna's Sex book in the early '90s, how same sex unions have completely altered in the last two decades, Obama's early opposition to gay marriage, Ellen Klages's “Time Gypsy,” Octavia Butler's Kindred, the problems with time travel stories, well-intentioned writers who pay mere lip service to changing norms and subcultural realities, why the terrific M.J. Cogburn was cast as the mother, our failure to discuss how childhood abuses transform into adulthood debilitation, why radio interference was incorporated in the sound design, more on his research into queer culture, vodka vs. gin martinis, Antonioni's The Passenger, the malleability of identity, why January is a vital theme for the full “Paths” story arc, why cold pizza is a strangely apposite breakfast, dates and palindromes, how the perception of time can be packaged into other sensory perceptions, why Patricia Highsmith is a significantly understimated writer, Todd Haynes's Carol and its slightly ambiguous ending, relationships and fatalism, aspects of a relationship that we fail to dramatize, the translator Anthea Bell, Stefan Zweig, how Beware of Pity influenced the story, how bowls and kitchen utensils resulted in ethereal sound effects, the Star Trek transporter sound effect, why the “Lane in Paris” reference is important, dating apps as a surrogate for Biff's sports almanac in Back to the Future, why it's important to have characters who deliberate over morally sketchy decisions, how the real-life Brill Building inspired the fictitious Brillstein Building, his efforts to push back against gender disparity and patriarchal stories by taking the time to dramatize women getting ready for work, breaking cliches in time travel stories, the Virginia Gaskell connection, why Jack Ward is a magnificent force for good, honoring other artists who have inspired me by casting them in this narrative, the real-life origins of the Savoy and Henrietta's, Rock Hudson Sundays, how James Joyce honored Dublin by including real-life locations, why Alicia occasionally speaks in funny voices, why our lifetime relationships are often forged before the age of twenty-two, where some of the slang came from, how Alicia's love monologue made many early listeners cry, Yelp, and why the Receptionist is an important figure and why nobody but Zack Glassman can play him. (Running time: 28 minutes, 20 seconds)

 

10.2. Paths Not Taken: The First Illusion
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10.2. Paths Not Taken: The First Illusion

July 28, 2020

It’s January 11, 2011. The world is similar, but it is also quite different. Chelsea reconnects with her best friend Alicia and takes the opportunity to correct her past mistakes, including rebuilding her relationship with Maya. But the shadow of her abusive mother and the presence of an eccentric man who is quite keen on hot dogs and the benefits of being obsequious may uproot this hard-won battle to claim a better life. (Running time: 52 minutes, 6 seconds)

Written, produced, and directed by Edward Champion

CAST:

Chelsea: Katrina Clairvoyant
Maya: Tanja Milojevic
Alicia: Elizabeth Rimar
Young Chelsea: Nathalie Kane
Carolyn: Emma Smuyla
The Waiter: Jack Ward
Jill Swanson: Ingeborg Reidmeier
Thomas: Philip O'Gorman
Chelsea's Mother: M.J. Cogburn
Hysterical Diners: Alexander Bill, Brandon P. Jenkins, and Tal Minear
and Zack Glassman as The Receptionist

Sound design, editing, engineering, and mastering by a bald man in Brooklyn who lost every apple bobbing contest he ever participated in during the last five summers.

The “Paths Not Taken” songs were written and performed by Edward Champion

Incidental music licensed through Neosounds and MusicFox.

Image licensed through Getty.

Thank you for listening!

Inside the Gray Area — “Where Are the Lads of the Village Tonight?”
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Inside the Gray Area — “Where Are the Lads of the Village Tonight?”

July 28, 2020

Writer and showrunner Edward Champion discusses the genesis of this seven part epic, how the first part was inspired by a pre-World War I novelty dance hall tune, the origins of the portals, doing research on World War I, Richard Aldington's Death of a Hero, the origins of Scarlett Idamo, the importance of being always connected with human emotions, the connections between mysticism and counseling, the great Katrina Clairvoyant and why he took the right chance in casting her as the lead, why Adelphi is a good source for New York actors, earning the right to enjoy fun story details by knowing the characters, the influence of Lynne Tillman's American Genius, the problems with present fantasy narratives, the mistake of prioritizing effects over human character and actors, the brilliant acting of Phillip O'Gorman, how Christopher Eccleston's incarnation of the Doctor served as a starting point for Thomas, the problems with pitch-perfect Broadway musical numbers, singing from the heart, karaoke, how artistic imperfections can be virtues, the long process of selecting jazz music for the lengthy bar scene, Free Music Archive, researching LGBTQ culture by going to the right places in the real world, the importance of honoring and respecting subcultures in art, lesbian slang, connections to “Brand Awareness,” conscious and subconscious interconnectedness to other stories, cancel culture, why it's essential to be transparent and honest about yourself, the criminologist John Braithwaite and reintegrative shaming, the moral failings and solipsism of Jon Ronson, the stylistic device of using the microphone as a kind of sonic camera, the influence of Mikhail Kalatozov's I Am Cuba, how people are innately familiar with cinematic semiotics, Graham Greene, why any artist needs to be drawn from multiple mediums, the joke I played on my good friend Marc Stein with the role of Dave, how storytelling can uproot the patriarchy, Bobby's connection to “Brand Awareness,” how the incredibly talented Liz Rimar brought dimension to defy stereotype, finding a loophole to the Bechdel rule, the fluidity of sexuality, the problems of looking outward when there's a lot of inward pain, the tensions of being an addict, guilt and judgment, the punk rock sound design of the relapse moment, when people mistakenly believe that the bartender is your friend, James Bond, Plymouth gin, Lars Iyer, finding empathy when reading a hit piece, compassion and groupthink, paying honor to the great writer Scarlett Thomas, Yelp ratings, his obsession with odds and probability, how he and Jess Cuesta came up with the “impish introvert” angle for Scarlett, the value of patience, and cold pizza as a hangover cure. (Running time: 32 minutes, 29 seconds)

 

10.1. Paths Not Taken: Where Are the Lads of the Village Tonight?
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10.1. Paths Not Taken: Where Are the Lads of the Village Tonight?

July 28, 2020

Chelsea Needham was once among the foremost leaders in tech. But something happened involving a fire and a death. And it got in the papers. Rumor reared its ugly head and Chelsea lost everything she had, with only a few friends left. While recovering from alcoholism, self-destruction, and losing the love of her life, Chelsea meets an enigmatic gentleman from England and a strange fortune teller who may have the answers to how she can reclaim her identity. (Running time: 53 minutes, 42 seconds)

Written, produced, and directed by Edward Champion

CAST:

Chelsea: Katrina Clairvoyant
Thomas: Philip O'Gorman
Alicia: Elizabeth Rimar
Scarlett: Jessica Cuesta
Maya: Tanja Miljoevic
Bobby: John Anantua
Dave: Marc Eliot Stein
and Zack Glassman as The Receptionist

Sound design, editing, engineering, and mastering by a bald man in Brooklyn who tends to show up to the next bar mitzvah looking reasonably dapper.

The “Paths Not Taken” songs were written and performed by Edward Chmpion

Incidental music licensed through Neosounds.

The following songs were licensed through Radio Free Archive:

Mid-Air Machine, “Don't Feel So Low”
Mela, “Horrible”
Mela, “Waltz for a Memory”
Prince Murphy, “Hey Mecy”
Zoambo Zoet Workestrao – “Heminguleja”
Truth Serum, “Gas Leak”
Cullah, “Italian Singing Hip-Hop”

Image licensed through Getty.

Thank you for listening!

Season 2 Episode Guide (For Premium Subscribers)

Season 2 Episode Guide (For Premium Subscribers)

April 18, 2020

Welcome to the Season 2 Pass page! Thank you so much for being a listener and for supporting our program. Here is an episode guide to help out subscribers.

First off, to instantly access all the available episodes -- there will be a total of nineteen -- you will need a Season 2 pass.  You'll only be paying a flat rate of $20, which will be good during the entire duration of the release. That's it! No extra costs!  We like to keep things simple. You'll get 400 extra minutes of material and nearly 1,000 pages of scripts, as well as immediate access to all Season 2 episodes before release!  Upon payment, you'll get a username and a password that you can use on Podbean or any podcasting app to access all these goodies.  You'll also get access to all of the scripts, as well as our special behind-the-scenes podcast, Inside the Gray Area

We're releasing Season 2 in three phases over the next few months. Your Season 2 pass will be good for all of this.  Because we've released a lot of content, here is the episode guide -- along with links to Inside the Gray Area and the scripts -- so that you can navigate through these pages. We'll offer an updated version of this page when we release Phases II and II. Again, your season pass is good for the entire run!  And we'll make sure you are updated when the next batches get released.  Thanks again for supporting independent audio drama! And if you have any questions about the program or are interested in chatting, please don't hesitate to reach out!

PHASE I (Released to Premium: April 10, 2020):

7. Living Creatures: (Episode) (Script) (Inside the Gray Area)
8. Dearer than Earsight: (Episode) (Script) (Inside the Gray Area)
8.5. Our American Cousin: (Episode) (Script) (Inside the Gray Area)
9. The Demon Hunters: (Episode) (Script) (Inside the Gray Area)
9.5. The Head Doctor: (Episode) (Script) (Inside the Gray Area)

PHASE II (Projected Premium Release: June 2, 2020):

10.1. Paths Not Taken: Where Are the Lads of the Village Tonight?
10.2. Paths Not Taken: The First Illusion
10.3. Paths Not Taken: Same Age Inside
10.4. Paths Not Taken: Unfound Door
10.5. Paths Not Taken: Canny Valley
10.6. Paths Not Taken: Too Hard a Knot
10.7. Paths Not Taken: Shadows Have Offended
Standalone Episode: The Yellow Wallpaper

PHASE III (Projected Premium Release: August 25, 2020):

11. West with the Light
12. Marching Orders
13.1. Pattern Language: The Tainted Grimace
13.2. Pattern Language: Not a Frown Further
13.3. Pattern Language: An Iris for Emily
13.4. Pattern Language: Mirrors of the Soul

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