Cheryl Ann Cluff co-founded Plan-B in 1991 and is the company’s Managing Director. She has directed MESA VERDE and all five RADIO HOURs, including RADIO HOUR: FRANKENSTEIN (Utah Broadcasters Association Gold Award, Best Radio Feature Story or Program) and RADIO HOUR: ALICE. She has designed sound for most Plan-B productions since 2000, most recently SHE WAS MY BROTHER and BORDERLANDS.
My most memorable design experience was probably for our production of Mercury Theatre’s THE WAR OF THE WORLDS back in 2002. This show is most memorable for me from a sound design perspective because it was my first experience designing sounds that were performed live, on stage by a foley, using various objects to create the sounds, pretty much like they did back in the Golden Age of Radio in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Absolutely no sounds were pre-recorded for that show, which was a first. I co-designed sound with Cory Thorell and I was also the live foley on stage during the run of the show.
I had designed sound for live radio drama for the 1996 production of RADIO MACBETH but it the sounds for that show weren’t completely live sounds performed by a foley on stage. A good majority of sounds were prerecorded with a few live effects, and none of them were actually performed live in front of the audience. I was the foley for that show, and I ran sound and performed the live effects in a small closet off stage at the Art Barn. Don’t ask why I was in the closet (literally, not figuratively) – it’s a rather long, stupid story and not a terribly exciting one at that.
Then, later in 1998, I designed live sound for an original adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s THE RATS IN THE WALLS, which was included in THE PBTC RADIO SHOW. But there were only a few effects for that show, some of which were also pre-recorded.
Another reason THE WAR OF THE WORLDS really stands out for me mostly because, well, it’s the infamous THE WAR OF THE WORLDS where, in the original Mercury Theatre production, listeners actually thought the earth was being invaded by aliens. So it felt like the impact of the show would be more memorable with all the history behind it. Oh, AND THEN, the attack on the World Trade Center had occurred the prior year, and some of the descriptions in the script of explosions and buildings burning and falling down were just uncanny. With that being so fresh and in the country’s immediate consciousness, we knew there would be obvious comparisons to the events on 9/11.
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS was much more of a creative and emotional challenge than any other production (with the exception of the emotional challenge connected to THE LARAMIE PROJECT).
Please click here for information on Plan-B’s 2011/12 season, featuring three world premieres by Utah playwrights!