Victor and Victoria: a new scarefest at Varscona Theatre
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 06:00 am
Victor and Victoria’s Terrifying Tale of Terrible Things
Running Sept. 21 to 29
10329 – 83 Ave.
Tickets: $20 adults, $15 students/seniors. Two for one Tuesdays. Call 780-420-1757
There are a lot of strange things that go bump in the night. And a St. Albert sound designer is about to unleash them on unsuspecting spectators.
Terry Fairfield has designed the sound landscape for Victor and Victoria’s Terrifying Tale of Terrible Things, a tongue twister if there ever was one.
This revamped production, inspired by the macabre stories and gothic artwork of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton’s darkly comic films, is Kill Your Television’s season’s launch. It opens Friday for a nine-day run at Varscona Theatre.
Fairfield, a sound designer for BioWare video games such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect Series, Skate Series and Need for Speed, comes by his love of music and sound naturally.
He also writes songs and is a member of the four-piece garage rock band The Betrayers where he gets an opportunity to play the Farfisa organ.
Written and performed by Beth Graham and Nathan Cuckow, Victor and Victoria was mounted twice – at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 2009 and in 2011 at the New York Fringe.
The tale starts on a dark and stormy night when two fraternal twins, Victor and Victoria, are left alone. Fearful of the quiet in the house and noises outside, they rush to the attic.
“Their parents are mysteriously absent and they don’t know when they’ll return,” explains Fairfield.
The twins discover a mysterious book and become engrossed in a horrifying family secret that may prove to be their undoing.
“They start to read the book and act out the plot. As kids often do, they start to creep each other out.”
Fairfield was brought in to amp up the spooky quotient.
Using samplers and special programs, he has developed sound cues with eighties horror music and high piercing shrills from strings.
Trapped in the attic, afraid to open the door, the children also hear ambient sounds such as branches tapping on a window, wind and rain, creaky doors and demon screams. There are even the squelching sounds of a heart torn from a body.
“It gets creepy and gets a child’s imagination going. There’s no limit to children’s imaginations and you can go anywhere with this.”
Director Kevin Sutley wanted to create a claustrophobic environment around the children.
“There are grave digger sounds that make you feel trapped with the kids. To make this work I played with the dynamic of having sound and having quiet – sound being broken by quiet.”
Fairfield’s passion for sound started back in the ’90s when, as a student at Bellerose High, he spent his free time in Blanky, a grungy ’90s punk band.
After graduation in 1994, he took a two-year recording program in Vancouver and was subsequently hired at The Hive Studio as a sound engineer.
“It was fun and I was working with cool people. But ultimately I was taking money from musicians who didn’t have much, and I was listening to music I didn’t want to hear.”
Shifting to Electronic Arts, a huge gaming company, he discovered his niche. But the studios in Vancouver were very competitive in quality, depth and breadth. The gaming industry fell through the floor and Fairfield lost his job. He used his connections at BioWare, an affiliate of Electronic Arts, and landed a new spot in Edmonton where he not only forms sounds from samplers, but also writes any jingles that are needed.
For Victor and Victoria, he’s written a sad, creepy love theme and some bouncy stuff for when the kids are happy.
“But there’s also deep droning parts to give tension and stabbing strings to underscore violence.”
While he is passionate about working with a big team of creative individuals at his day job, labouring in theatre is just as inspirational.
“The first time I saw the script I laughed so hard. The level of imagination and creativity is off the charts.”
Having said that, “I see a lot of room in theatre to amp up the quality of sound, especially in independent theatre.”