BWW Interview: Becca Pearce of TALLEY'S FOLLY at Creede Repertory Theatre
Creede Repertory Theatre Sound Designer Becca Pearce gives insight into what it's like to design for two different shows at CRT this summer.
As a sound designer, what key components do you strive to implement into the design and execution of a show?
For me, the most important thing is balancing between the reality of the character's world and dramatic intent of the text. What are the sounds that the characters would really hear in this place, at this time? From there, it's a matter of considering what serves the dramatic intent of the scene. Will music enhance this moment or will it distract from the text? At times, sound design is less about what sounds are included and more about using the absence of sound to highlight silence.
What can be the most challenging part of designing sound for a show? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part of a sound design comes from the creation and replication of certain sounds. Humans are very aware of sound and most people can tell immediately when something doesn't sound quite right. It can be a challenge to create elements that sound organic. However, that's some of the most fun work to do because you oftentimes have to get very creative in how you create sounds.
The most rewarding element has to be when I can pinpoint the emotional core of the show and highlight it with music. When I can play off the audience's emotional associations and bring them on board with how the characters are feeling...and being able to see that on an audience member's face!
How long have you been working in this field? When did you start sound designing?
I started sound designing while I was pursuing my undergraduate degree. My first professional sound design was "August: Osage County" at Creede Repertory Theatre in 2015. Talley's Folly marks my tenth sound design with this company!
You are designing sound for two very opposite shows at CRT: "The Syringa Tree" and "Talley's Folly." What are the similarities of sound in each show? Any differences?
There are many differences between these two designs, mostly because these plays are completely different. "The Syringa Tree" is highly theatrical, taking place over two decades and two different continents. There are seventy-one scenes in the script and something like forty-five locations! With a minimal set, costumes, and two actresses playing twenty characters or so, sound is a huge part of telling this story.
"Talley's Folly" has unity of time and place, in a boathouse in Missouri over one evening. My design is much more minimal and atmospheric-based. For comparison, there are approximately 200 called cues in The Syringa Tree, while there are only 30 in Talley's Folly.
I've used a lot of atmosphere in both shows to place the audience in certain locations as well as used music to evoke a certain time. It was fun to work on both shows because the productions were totally different!