Turnkey Theatre Debuts Interactive Audio Play 'Homecoming'
Relax to a meditation on the natural world
J’Arrian Wade, a San Diego State University student in the school of Theatre, Television and co-author of "Homecoming," explained, "Turnkey theatre came to us organically as an attempt to create diverse art in the midst of the pandemic. I was looking for a way to make theatre during the pandemic that was more satisfying than Zoom plays, so came to Katie's [SDSU lecturer Katie Turner] office hours to discuss possibilities."
Turner proved responsive.
"J'Arrian mentioned wanting to do something abstract and immersive," Turner said in a press release. "Knowing that there were funds for summer research projects, I said I would think about it and get back to J'Arrian. After a couple of days the idea struck to create an audio experience accompanied by a box of objects to physically engage participants in a unique experience without screens. J'Arrian loved the idea, and brought ideas for content to the table. She wanted to explore fairy lore, astrology, climate change, and dreams. We got the funding, and the two of us collaborated using different devising exercises for a few weeks, wrote a script, found some actors and designers, and created a prototype."
Attendees for "Homecoming" can purchase tickets to just the audio experience or can purchase the deluxe box and get a game board with items to set up.
Andrew Gutierrez, a recent SDSU graduate, worked on the sound design for the production. The challenge began with just recording the voices.
"We have different characters and different people recording it in various different spaces since this was all done virtually," Gutierrez said. "So it can be very difficult to match the environment, to match the tones, to make sure that it feels like you're in one singular space. It's an interesting process because there's a lot of technical little things to make sure that you can't clock anything else that's going on. And then, of course, you have to build the world around it and make it feel as authentic as you can while keeping it fresh and exciting over a long period of time."
In creating the sounds to define the characters, he did have a favorite.
"That was a very fun project. There's one sound in particular for Mother Earth. And I believe we also used it for the character Tara. But it is a recording of what Earth sounds like from space, and it is a recording that NASA did," Gutierrez explained. "And I thought that it would speak to the very essence of what it means to be on this planet. It's a small rumbling sound. So if you listen for it, that was one of my little special little spices I like to just sprinkle in there to make sure that we built this world that not only spoke to the creative element, but that also grounded us in the reality of our world, that that's beyond us because we wanted to have this kind of otherworldly, just out of earshot feeling for these characters in these deities. And I thought that having a sound from another world that was still our own would support that."
"Homecoming" is an open-ended production that you can enjoy at home. Deluxe boxes are $49.99 and the DIY audio only is just $10. If you need a break from pandemic stress, "Homecoming" offers a retreat into a meditative soundscape designed to reconnect you to the natural elements.