Prodigal Sister by ‘The A Team‘
First few weeks:
I have to be honest, in the beginning I got a bit scared. I had zero experience in the radio world and the first time I’ve listened to an audio play was in this module, so I realised that things were going to be difficult. But to my surprise, everything was way more fun than it was hard. Every lecture had a practical part which I found really engaging and an overall great educational experience. We got to run around the university and record our own mini play, which was a great creative exercise, and we got to put ourselves into the actors’ shoes while going through the scripts.
Only Sarah and I were in Uni the week when the teams were made so it was up to us to choose our team name and roles, but we were fortunate enough that we were all happy with our roles. We created a Whatsapp group to make it easier for everyone to keep in touch.
In this phase, my team and I met, went through the script and agreed on the changes we wanted to make. Justine, our Script Editor, wrote all of our notes down and had the edited version of the script sent to us in due time. Sarah, our Producer, made sure to email all the possible actors and kept us updated about their responses.
During this phase, I got accepted into an Internship program, which meant that I had work harder to keep in touch with my team, as I was probably not going to be able to meet them tête-à-tête as often as before.
We went into this week feeling excited and ready. The Friday before, we had a meeting with Matthew to discuss any sort of issues that we were going through and we left the meeting feeling confident. I couldn’t stay for the meeting with Jeremy but we did have a quick chat about the state of our production before I left. While I was on my way to the tube, Callum (our Studio Manager) let us know on the group chat that Paige Carter, who had previously agreed to play the role of Jasmine, dropped out and we were left one main actress short. Sarah managed to confirm Ambur Khan as available, with the mention that Ambur was suggested as a good fit for the role of Sophia. This is where I had to make a call and figure out if I should have Aysha (playing Sophia) switch with Ambur (because Ambur would sound a bit older than Aysha). I decided not to switch because Aysha had performed the role of Sophia before and she would be more familiar with the character thus giving a more natural performance.
The day before the production, the team met at Uni while I was stuck at work, but I kept in touch with them on the group chat. They got the schedule and all the paperwork ready while also setting up the studio. Afterwards, Sarah and I discussed everything about refreshments and decided to make a list of beverages and snacks and to split it between the two of us. It was very important for our team to have enough refreshments for every person in the studio to feel comfortable.
In the days leading up to the recording, I researched tips about my role as a Director as I had no previous experience. I made sure to have a clear vision about how I wanted the production and the characters to sound like. I also made a few notes on my version of the script to make sure I didn’t forget anything.
We were scheduled to start at 9 and we decided to all be there at about 8:15 just to make sure that everything was going as planned. I met with Jeremy in the Forum when I arrived (to get the Scrabble we needed for recording) and I took the chance to ask him for some last minute advice as I was low-key freaking out. This combined with a brief chat with Callum when he told me that he was feeling confident about the whole thing, really made me relax and get my head in the game.
We were running around trying to make sure that everything was going smoothly and we forgot to have one of our own in the Forum waiting for the actors and the writer, Karim Khan. But luckily after we all gathered around and officially met, things were back on schedule.
It was my responsibility as a Director to interact with our cast and writer and to make them feel comfortable. Before we started recording, we had a read-through where I made sure to get everyone’s opinions about the characters. Jeremy also helped with some key notes that I kept in mind.
We started recording and everything went smoother than I anticipated. Justine made sure to keep track of the takes we liked and the ones we weren’t so fond of. During the recording of every take I wrote down any notes I had and I made sure to get everyone’s opinions before I made a final decision because I think that the more points of view I have access to, the better. In the beginning I must admit that I struggled to convey my vision and how I wanted everything to sound like, but as the recording progressed it definitely got easier. I kept in mind to always give my notes in a professional, yet understanding way.
During the 10 minute break, Sarah made sure to ask everyone if they would like a hot beverage while I chatted with Callum about our progress. I also got some positive feedback from Ambur and Jeremy, which made me feel confident that we were going in the right direction.
During the second half of the production, everything went perfect and I’m not being optimistic. We only had to record two takes of each scene and we’ve only done the second one to be safe, which turned out to be a really good call. I was very satisfied with the way the actresses’ chemistry progressed and culminated and I got to end the recording with the words I’ve always wanted to say: “It’s a wrap!”
We thanked everyone and promised to have the audio play with them as soon as it was finished. Sarah took care of their travel expenses and we were all on could nine.
My lack of experience was probably most obvious during this stage. We were lucky to have Callum on our team to save our behinds during this important part of the process. Our visions about the play were completely in sync and we all kept in touch and shared our opinions throughout the whole process. The fact that Justine kept track of the best takes made the editing much easier as we didn’t have to listen to all the recorded footage which, in turn, saved us a lot of time.
Everything went surprisingly seamless and we are very pleased with the result of our hard work. Sarah is going to make sure that the actresses and the writer will receive the final product, as soon as Jeremy gives us the green light.
I was so lucky to get to work with such amazing actresses like Ambur and Aysha. They made our jobs much easier. Prodigal Sister is an incredible piece written by an even more incredible writer. Thank you, Karim. I hope we didn’t let you down. Lastly, I would like to thank the team for all their hard work and dedication. It was truly a privilege to be a part of The A Team.