Visiting group of actors teach students the art of foley
TNE Editor

Visiting group of actors teach students the art of foley

Published 12/5/17

Marissa Mitchell

TNE Writer

This past week, the Sequoyah Institute presented the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live from WVL Radio.” The show is the retelling of the age-old story through a cast of four 1940s radio actors who have been abandoned in the WVL radio station with a full, live audience in the middle of a blizzard. The actors use the foley arts and take on almost 15 different roles a piece to tell the story of George Bailey to the live audience, as well as the fictional radio listeners.

The group of traveling actors that starred in the show were from an acting company based in Asheville, NC called Immediate Theatre Project. Along with starring in and teching the show as they travel, they presented a foley workshop for students when they had their show at NSU. Foley is the art of recreating everyday sounds. Foley is what is used in today’s TV shows and movies when on-set microphones cannot pick up the subtle sounds of everyday life, such as leaves rustling or the water dripping. At the workshop, students were taken on set of their show and had the chance to try their hands at foley arts. Things like eggplants, whisks and dice can make noises like a face slap, a phone ringing or even pouring ice into a glass.

As a drama student who hopes to go into the world of film after graduation, Nick Edwards, Muskogee sophomore, was eager to attend the foley workshop.

“Whether everyone likes to admit it or not, we all make goofy fake noises everyday, like when we are telling stories to our friends.” said Edwards. “I’ve always been fascinated with how film artists were able to catch things like the sounds of a hand slapping a face on studio microphones. Now that I’ve been to this foley workshop, I understand how important foley is to film and theatre.”

Most of the actors from Immediate Theatre Project went to various universities around North Carolina. During their college studies, they all had vocal teachers. They were not vocal teachers as in vocal singing, but instead learning how to use one’s speaking voice as a tool in acting. This entails learning different accents and dialects from all over the world. At the time of his study, Strother Stingley, ITP actor who has played the role of Mays for three years with this tour, did not think this type of study would benefit him, but he soon learned he was wrong.

“During my voice class we had to learn how to speak in a trans-Atlantic dialect, which is what you would hear in old-timey movies,” said Stingley. “I thought ‘When am I ever going to use that?,’ when actually, the trans-Atlantic dialect is all that I use in this show since it takes place in the 1940s. It’s funny to look back at what I thought was not-so-important in college and realize that very thing landed me a job that I love. It was so great getting to sit down with these students and teach them things I wish I was taught in college.”

Amongst learning the art of foley, students were also able to learn real-world advice from working actors. Since the show depended heavily on foley, as well as vocal talents, the actors were able to give advice to many of the drama students that attended the workshop.

Shannah Palmer, McAlester sophomore, is a drama student who wishes to be a voice actor someday. She has already delved into the world of voice acting through a few different projects but wanted some advice from a professional.

“It felt great to sit down and talk to one of the actors one-on-one,” said Palmer. “I think the best piece of advice I was given was ‘Just go out and do all the things,’ meaning while I’m in college I need to be involved in all I can to help further my knowledge in the field I want to go into. Too often I feel college kids forget to be involved in things that are within their field of study. Having workshops like this is just one of the many things I get to do within my field of study.”

To learn more about the next Sequoyah Institute show and check workshop availability, visit www.nsuok.edu/si.


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