Promotional poster for Please Stand by for Further Instruction, designed by Collins.
By MK Saye
When I heard that Dakota Collins (C’22) had released an audio drama, I expected nothing short of perfection. I admit it had been a long time since I had thought of an audio drama; and it made me fondly nostalgic to think back to a time where I had listened to them more often. My exposure to them has been limited though, and Collins’s was a break in the familiarity I knew.
Collins confesses that he has always been interested in audio dramas, and this project has been in the works for him for a long time. This cleverly named show, Please Stand by for Further Instruction, was an idea thought up before our unexpectedly long break, and actually turned out to be a solution for Sewanee’s theatre program in terms of obstacles set up by COVID-19.
This audio drama had a small cast of four people including Collins. As well as being the Interface voice, he also wrote, directed, produced and audio engineered for the drama. When explaining the plot, Collins describes it as “Home Alone for adults.” Daniel Mathis, voiced by Tristan Ketcham (C’21), finds himself having to defend his house against enemies of his secret agent husband, Emmett Mathis, voiced by Jackson Harwell (C’22). With the help of Emmett’s colleague, June Underwood, voiced by Emma Miller (C’23), Daniel is able to save himself by talking with her on the phone.
“The play is about courage, how a normal person can deal with a really escalated situation,” explains Collins. However, he also means for it to be comedic which is perfectly done in the exchanges Daniel has with June throughout the show.
Because contact has had to be limited for health and safety purposes, students involved in theatre and dance have had to get creative. Audio dramas don’t require as much contact in recording, and Collins points out that they are ideal for people who don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes right now. However, Collins did admit that there were challenges along the way. The biggest problem was recording with masks. Collins said that the first idea was to set up individual recording booths and he would run to each one during recording sessions to supervise. However, this was not an ideal setup, so Dan Backlund, a professor of theatre arts, got permission for recording to happen at Proctor Hill. In this location, Collins and his cast recorded in the same place while still being safely distanced.
Collins shares that the most challenging part was recording the fight scene and making it sound like there was a fight going on. Collins and his crew were challenged at many times to get creative; when recording a scene where an intruder is stabbed , they used a tomato, making the sounds more graphic. Despite the challenges, the crew also had some “fun strange moments,” as Collins puts it. On the first day of recording at Proctor Hill, the crew came across a dead bat and organized a bat funeral for it. They knew that it’s always wise to make sure that nothing is haunting their theatrical endeavors.
Collins says that nothing is set in stone for future audio dramas, but he hopes for more. I encourage everyone, perhaps on a rainy day, to grab some popcorn and go to the link below and listen to this show. As for me, I’ll be standing by in the hopes that Collins will create another show for us to enjoy.
Click here to listen to Please Stand by for Further Instruction.