Director: Joann Shaver
Scenic: Jennifer Glass
Costumes: Taylor Busch
Lighting: Tristian King
Photography by David Coley
Southern Miss Theatre
KCACTF 2022 National Sound Design Award Recipient
Hedda Gabler is about a deeply independent woman who finds entertainment and control by manipulating the men in her life. When she finally looses all control, she takes it back with her own life.
We decided to set this production of Hedda Gabler in 1963 to view this story through a slightly more modern lens. By bringing this story to a time of social reform, we hoped to highlight the social position of women that is portrayed in this play. Through my design I hope to portray a sense of hyperrealism, by creating a realistic basis from which certain turning points throughout the play will be heightened. This will be achieved through the use of practical sound elements, and the manipulation of silence.
Music & Radio
Music was a central part of the sound design for this production. I created the playlist embedded here which is comprised of hits from 1962 and 1963. This music was not only played during pre-show and intermission, but was used as a practical element during the play. Music was played through a prop radio from the 1960's that was rewired to be controlled through QLab, and was "turned on and off" by characters onstage.
In choosing the songs that would be used in this production, I considered not only what was popular and accurate for the time period, but what also what music Hedda herself would have preferred to listen to.
Radio advertisements for products (such as Jello, Cream of Wheat, and Camel Cigarettes) targeted towards young housewives were also interspersed throughout the "radio programming."
This "radio programming" of music and advertisements was mainly used during Act II, when Hedda and Tesman are entertaining their guests for the evening.
Manipulation of Silence
Silence is just as impactful in sound design as sound can be. I decided to take advantage of this concept to highlight certain moments throughout the play.
During Act II, when Hedda and Lovborg are having an intimate moment, the radio fades out in order to focus in on their conversation. Once Mrs. Elvsted arrives and breaks the tension of their moment, the radio fades back in, signifying the end of their tryst.
At the end of Act III, as Hedda burns Lovborg's manuscript, an eerie devised sound (below) begins, and drops down to a low level, where it stays throughout Act IV. I created it by altering Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces", slowing it down and playing it backwards. My goal was to have a low sound that was felt more than it was heard throughout the fourth act to underline the tension that is building in Hedda. It cuts off abruptly after her death.
Sound Cue Sheet
Signal Flow Chart
In completion of her University of Southern Miss Honors College Undergraduate Thesis, the process and analysis of this sound design was documented in Allison Bucher's thesis entitled " "To Control a Human Destiny": Sound Design for Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler" which can be accessed here.