Plain Brown Box

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Plain Brown Box by Conlan Carter was produced at the New School of Drama in 2019 and was directed by Sarah Young. The play tells the story of a group of high school friends meeting for a memorial of one of their group, the sister of Gavin and Naomi. The story unfolds as the group reunites and uncovers the things that have changed and the things that have not. I approached the music by thinking about what I thought the characters would have listened to in high school and using similar palettes. I decided they would have been into bands ranging from Jack's Mannequin to Explosions in the Sky, so I leaned into composing pieces featuring a slightly-distorted guitar as the lead voice. This also allowed me to blur the music when the interrelationships and stories became murky and complicated. 

The opening of the play, which lands the audience in the rental cabin. Gavin and Reid discover spilled liquor on the carpet.

Reeling from the revelation that Gavin is an alcoholic and gay, the group realizes it will be a long weekend.

Phil reveals that her ex-girlfriend broke up with her because she thought Marcy was Phil's priority.

Marcy and Phil have car trouble and Marcy reveals she and Gavin had an entanglement a few months before.

Naomi is skeptical of her brother Gavin's new-found sobriety.

Marcy finds out that Gavin doesn't remember their one-night stand and takes no responsibility for his actions.

A drunken Gavin and sober Naomi get into a physical altercation and undergo an emotional breakdown.

Another big element of the sound was the setting of the play, which was a two-story house in the woods of Minnesota during a weekend in February. The characters spent some scenes inside the house and some scenes outside, so I developed several soundscapes to indicate the time of day, temperature, and the wildlife around them. 

The show ended with the characters watching an old video of themselves from high school, including their friend who had since passed away. The audience didn't see the video, but it was important for them to hear the words. I put a small speaker inside of the old television on the set and recorded the actors saying the lines. I then EQ'd the recording to sound like it was coming from an old television and sourced it to the television. Along with a lighting effect, the result was a believable and emotional moment.

Director: Sarah Young

Scenic Designer: Raphael Mishler

Lighting Designer: Dante Olivia Smith

Costume Designer: Grier Coleman

Sound Designer: Megan Culley

Stage Manager: Sarah Baughman

Naomi and Gavin fight

Phil gives her eulogy

Marcy makes sure the car is still safe

Naomi and Gavin fight

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