Week 3: Shiver Rehearsals Sound Designer Kingsley Reeve

Posted by Morgan Leek, November 15th, 2011

The ultra charming Kingsley (Kings) Reeve brings an impressive track record of awards and sound design compositions to Shiver. Before taking out the WA Equity Guild Awards, Ausdance Awards and WA Screen Awards he was nominated for a Helpmann for Best Theatre Sound Design on Black Swan’s Zastrozzi, the Master of Discipline. Kings has collaborated with Danielle Mcich on Shiver since its humble beginnings in 2007. Between making new music for the highly anticipated premiere this Thursday 17 at The Dolphin Theatre, Kingsley took a moment to share what’s been happening in the rehearsal room as the team prepare for Production week.

Words: Kingsley Reeve (Sound Designer) Photos: Sarah Rowbottam

Pictured: Kingsley Reeve

Week three began on a Monday the way all good rehearsals should begin. the things we knew we were certain of and the things we didn’t know remained utterly uncertain. We had a big goal ahead of us – to get to the final bell by the end of the week without being pile-driven by a wrestler much heavier and sweatier than we were. So we took each day as it came. We bashed our heads together and asked each other the seemingly hard questions: “is this working?”, “does this bit suck?” and importantly, “are we making sense?”

Being brutally blunt and forthrightly honest was what we had to be to push the show into a new gear. And blunt we were. New things were added, some things had to go and we reconsidered things that we might have loved previously but had to give way for a tighter, leaner performance. We reworked one section in particular that had been evading us and the solution came via random express. I can’t give it away but let’s just say that my offer to string a piñata up didn’t meet with instant refusal…

Pictured: Gerard van Dyck, Leanne Mason and Jacqui Claus

As the week progressed we started to stretch our sea-legs and we ran what we had from whoa to go. To our relief, things were making sense and the road-blocks now seemed more like roundabouts or at worst, small speed humps in a 40 zone.

Each day was met with new understanding of the material, both on the interior and from the all-important audience perspective. We were consolidating each time we ran it and by Saturday, we were starting to feel its groove.

For myself, I enjoyed the daunting task of transferring quantities of semi-coherent sound improvisations into the final tracks to be played in the master sequence. So no mini-golf for me this weekend, I stayed strapped to my headphones until I had a something worth putting through the PA.

This week begins the final frontier; horses shod, stops pulled out and top-lip waxed… it’s game on and we have our first audience on Thursday. No pressure. None whatsoever…

17 – 19 November 2011
The Dolphin Theatre, UWA
Tickets: www.bocsticketing.com.au

Interview with Kingsley Reeve

PLWA. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Kings. I am a sound nerd, self-confessed. I basically can’t help it. Somewhere in my DNA is a molecular love affair with moving air and it does something to me, I can’t really articulate it elegantly but it’s a big part of who I am.

I’m a lover of silence too. Nothing is as beautiful and painfully terrifying as the absence of sound, so I look for it actively in our world and rejoice in it’s scarcity.

I love the idea of music and again, I have no words for it’s complexity. I don’t know why a note can mean so much, it’s frankly beyond me but I’m happy to bask in it’s supreme influence over me.

PLWA. What is your role in Shiver?
Kings. Shiver and I have a long-standing relationship. Lately of the long-distance kind, but still connected. I began this process with Dank back in 2007 when it was called something else and inhabited a completely different space structurally and conceptually. The piece has evolved from humble beginnings, grew to a bloated excess of big ideas and techniques and now occupies a position poles apart from it’s original instigation. It’s a lean, hungry animal now and my job as always is to tell the story, either in the front of the frame or in the blurry bits off to the back and sides through sound. My task has the ironic impression of playing some (hopefully agreeable) music under the movement and text. If only it were that easy and the sound was only answerable to my own desires. No. The sound, music or otherwise, has as much dramaturgical responsibility as the choreography, the text, the set, the lights, in fact, everything… So when charged with this duty I have to come up with a palette of sounds that are not only ‘appropriate’ but have something to say in our story. The task then is to add a bunch of these until it makes sense and gives the clearest meaning. This often means eventually stripping away so many of these sounds until you can honestly know that what is left is necessary and purposeful. If I can’t justify it in the action, it gets cut. Treating silence as a sonic tool is also a big part of the job, knowing when to shut up and earn the next cue.

It’s an ongoing negotiation and adherence to a strict ‘less is more’ mantra. Hopefully we get it right and the quiet bits are quiet and the loud bits are loud…

PLWA. What has been the most exciting day in the rehearsal room thus far?
Kings. That would have to be Monday to Friday this week, not a single day but a collection of five that had great upwards momentum the more we worked. It’s thoroughly satisfying when things take their proper shape and you start to land these ideas and concepts that may have been eluding you. A lot of that happened this week. We solved, cleaned and trimmed and from that came the smiling face of coherence.

Kingsley Reeve graduated from WAAPA in 1995 with a Diploma in Sound and from the Theatre course in 1998 as an actor. Now based in Sydney he works regularly with Sydney Theatre Company (STC) and teaches Sound Design at NIDA. In Perth he has designed sound and music for Black Swan (2002 – 2008) and for Perth Theatre Company since 2003. In 2005 he was nominated for a Helpmann Award for Best Theatre Sound Design on Black Swan’s Zastrozzi, the Master of Discipline. Recent designs include Barking Gecko’s The Red Tree, STC’s Ruby Moon, Deckchair’s The Modern International Dead and Yirra Yaakin’s Waltzing the Wilarra. He has designed sound and music for Danielle Micich since 2006.

Filed under Danielle Micich, Shiver