There is a term called “Sundowning” that is used to describe an increase in confusion, anxiety, aggression, and more in the late afternoon and into the night time. Some Alzheimer’s patients experience this as a side effect of their disease. I first came to learn about this term with an experience of my own family member. The concept for the Sound Design of The White Plague is similar. The sound that the audience experiences at the beginning of the play is realistic. Nothing out of the ordinary. We hear beeps from the hospital machines, we hear voices of patients from within the tents, and we hear camera clicks from the press conference. All the sounds we hear come from that real world in a diegetic way. As the play goes on and the sun sets, the design crosses the boundaries of that real world into something much more abstract. The sonic world around the audience feels as if it is unraveling, and the conventional rules of sound are broken. We hear actors who are far away, we hear the voices of the lepers who have died reverberate through the coliseum as though they are ghosts, and we even hear Galen’s heart beat as he runs through the crowd. Below is some of our team’s conceptual paperwork, indicating how we would hide speakers in the hospital tents, and where we would mic actors in the play.
- Joy Cheever, Sound Designer