Project Description

THE TELL-TALE HEART

In Little Earthquake’s stage adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart I shared the stage with the actor Laurence Saunders creating live foley sound effects as he recounted Poe’s dark and gripping tale of murder in the dark.

“I was never kinder to the old man than in the week before I killed him…

In the heart of a bustling city, a wealthy recluse hides behind a barricade of bolted doors and blacked-out windows. His only companion is a private nurse, entrusted with taking care of him.

After many months of confinement, suspicion and resentment grow between the pair until the nurse hatches a foolproof plan to dispose of his patient. When the deed is done, the silence of the seemingly empty house is quickly shattered by a curious thumping beneath the floorboards…”

The performance demanded several hundred sound cues, some were recorded sounds that I designed but the majority were amplified live sound effects created with a huge variety of props, drawing on the techniques of film foley and radio drama. The actor’s performance space contained only a single chair so the detail and complexity of the sound were vital to realise the scenes and actions that were taking place. All of this was carefully choreographed to allow the audience to hear what they couldn’t see. This included some particularly gruesome moments such as the dismemberment of a dead body in a tin bath.

The Tell-Tale Heart toured numerous English studio theatres and rural touring venues from Autumn 2013 until November 2014.

THE TELL-TALE HEART

In Little Earthquake’s stage adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart I shared the stage with the actor Laurence Saunders creating live foley sound effects as he recounted Poe’s dark and gripping tale of murder in the dark.

“I was never kinder to the old man than in the week before I killed him…

In the heart of a bustling city, a wealthy recluse hides behind a barricade of bolted doors and blacked-out windows. His only companion is a private nurse, entrusted with taking care of him.

After many months of confinement, suspicion and resentment grow between the pair until the nurse hatches a foolproof plan to dispose of his patient. When the deed is done, the silence of the seemingly empty house is quickly shattered by a curious thumping beneath the floorboards…”

The performance demanded several hundred sound cues, some were recorded sounds that I designed but the majority were amplified live sound effects created with a huge variety of props, drawing on the techniques of film foley and radio drama. The actor’s performance space contained only a single chair so the detail and complexity of the sound were vital to realise the scenes and actions that were taking place. All of this was carefully choreographed to allow the audience to hear what they couldn’t see. This included some particularly gruesome moments such as the dismemberment of a dead body in a tin bath.

The Tell-Tale Heart toured numerous English studio theatres and rural touring venues from Autumn 2013 until November 2014.

Writers: Edgar Allan Poe & Philip Holyman

Director: Gareth Nicholls

Lighting Design: Gareth Nicholls

Sound Design: Iain Armstrong

Specialist Props: Nicholas Nicholls

CAST

Simon: Laurence Saunders

Foley Artist / Doctor: Iain Armstrong

“It is sound artist Iain Armstrong’s audio effects though which make the performance. Set up on stage and many performed alongside the physical action rather than being recorded, it is both fascinating and incredibly skilled.”

* * *

Helen Jones, Whats On Stage

“Never has the phrase ‘And then I dismembered the body…’ caused so much glee in an actor and revulsion in an audience. Using nothing more complicated than sticks of celery, a saw, dripping water, and a selection of large and small citrus fruits, and the collective audience, we were treated to the most suggestively gory, but cleanest scene imaginable.”

Ben Macnair, Lichfield Live

“What makes this play so excitable, and doused in dark humour, is that Simon shares the stage with a sound artist – Iain Armstrong. As Simon retells the story, Iain provides the sounds from a table of strange and fascinating props. Dismembering flesh is a knife through a melon, twisting off the old’s man arms and legs becomes crunching celery, and blood dripping from his loose bones is water trickling into a tin bowl. In fact, the audience are in awe of what prop will be used next – the most gruesome of which is a knife through an orange as Simon self-mutilates himself on stage. The play certainly makes you look at fruit in a whole different way!”

Matt Jarman, Loughborough Echo

“Armstrong alone is worth watching, as he commands his sound desk, juggling fruit, laboratory equipment and kitchen appliances making sure to hit the more than 200 sound cues. The results are, often, extraordinary. From the bigger set piece moments (the bloody dismembering of a body, for example) down to the subtle nuances that pepper the piece (footsteps on a floorboard; the creak of an opening door) the effect it leaves on its sometimes squirming audience is profound. Similarly, in his role as Doctor, Armstrong is perfectly constrained, his soft Scottish brogue coming through the tinny microphone never detracts from the main events of the piece, which belong to Saunders’ Simon.”

George Attwell Gerhards, The Public Reviews

Writers: Edgar Allan Poe & Philip Holyman

Director: Gareth Nicholls

Lighting Design: Gareth Nicholls

Sound Design: Iain Armstrong

Specialist Props: Nicholas Nicholls

CAST

Simon: Laurence Saunders

Foley Artist / Doctor: Iain Armstrong

“It is sound artist Iain Armstrong’s audio effects though which make the performance. Set up on stage and many performed alongside the physical action rather than being recorded, it is both fascinating and incredibly skilled.”

* * *

Helen Jones, Whats On Stage

“Never has the phrase ‘And then I dismembered the body…’ caused so much glee in an actor and revulsion in an audience. Using nothing more complicated than sticks of celery, a saw, dripping water, and a selection of large and small citrus fruits, and the collective audience, we were treated to the most suggestively gory, but cleanest scene imaginable.”

Ben Macnair, Lichfield Live

“What makes this play so excitable, and doused in dark humour, is that Simon shares the stage with a sound artist – Iain Armstrong. As Simon retells the story, Iain provides the sounds from a table of strange and fascinating props. Dismembering flesh is a knife through a melon, twisting off the old’s man arms and legs becomes crunching celery, and blood dripping from his loose bones is water trickling into a tin bowl. In fact, the audience are in awe of what prop will be used next – the most gruesome of which is a knife through an orange as Simon self-mutilates himself on stage. The play certainly makes you look at fruit in a whole different way!”

Matt Jarman, Loughborough Echo

“Armstrong alone is worth watching, as he commands his sound desk, juggling fruit, laboratory equipment and kitchen appliances making sure to hit the more than 200 sound cues. The results are, often, extraordinary. From the bigger set piece moments (the bloody dismembering of a body, for example) down to the subtle nuances that pepper the piece (footsteps on a floorboard; the creak of an opening door) the effect it leaves on its sometimes squirming audience is profound. Similarly, in his role as Doctor, Armstrong is perfectly constrained, his soft Scottish brogue coming through the tinny microphone never detracts from the main events of the piece, which belong to Saunders’ Simon.”

George Attwell Gerhards, The Public Reviews