Friday, November 15, 2013

'Junior' Member of SATS Making a Lot of Noise

 Joel Sweetland isn't old enough to technically qualify as a member of the Senior Actors Theatre of Slidell (SATS) program-- the minimum age requirement is 50 years of age -- but this teenager's contribution to the group has earned him the title of  “honorary” SATS member.  

Joel Sweetland as Sound FX engineer in SATS' premiere production
of Slidell Radio City Playhouse in July 2013.
Photo by Justin Redman
Joel is part of the sound effects crew for the Radio City Playhouse production.  All the gunshots, doors opening, phones ringing and any other sounds that you will hear during the broadcast, Joel will help produce.  Sound effects is not the only part of a theatrical production Joel has participated in.  He has been involved in several aspects of play production: he has directed skits for his Vacation Bible School; worked in lighting and sounds for Slidell Little Theatre; and he has acted in several plays.  His most recent role was in Seussical where he played the Grinch and one of the Wickersham Brothers.  He was also involved in the sound effects and lighting for Duck Hunter Shoots Angel.  We caught up with Joel and discussed what an honorary member of SATS feels like and what challenges he faces for a radio broadcast.

How did you become an honorary member of the SATS program?
Sweetland:  I saw a post on Slidell Little Theatre’s Facebook looking for volunteers to help the Senior Actor’s Theatre of Slidell.   Even though I knew I would be the youngest there I asked if I could help and they said yes.  It has been a lot of fun and like any other production we feel like family.

Is there any difference between sound effects for a play and radio?
Sweetland:  Yes there is.  During a play I push a button on the control board or computer and the sounds are played on the sound system but for a radio broadcast we produce the sound effects by hand.  For the radio broadcast we are opening doors, shooting guns with blanks, dialing on a rotary phone and using other ways to produce sound effects.  In fact one of the members created a cool hand turned device to simulate the riding on a stage coach effect

What is the most difficult sound to create for a live radio broadcast?
Sweetland: The most difficult sound is the gunshot for Stagecoach.  We only have two pistols so we have to time it just right so that while one pistol is reloading with blanks the other is still shooting.

What is the easiest sound?
Sweetland: The opening and closing of the door is the easiest.  All you have to do is make sure that is loud enough for people to hear it as you turn the knob and open or close the door.

Which of the three shows is your favorite, Little Orphan Annie, Our Miss Brooks, and Stagecoach?
Sweetland:  Stagecoach is my favorite.  It is the most challenging but it is also a western.

Interview conducted by Justin Redman

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