A long while back, I started writing a solo play for Christmas. I’ve been talking about this on and off since April of 2017. The play has gone through a lot of changes, it started out as a play about the Old Gods of Winter being set free and wreaking havoc on the modern world, but it grew and started to be about too many things. Sometime late last year, I separated the two themes into two separate plays. The one that had the most meat to it, was about a mall Santa who has a very bad day. I started to call this play “Saint” Nick and the Big F*ck Up.
As I looked at it, it felt like it was in good shape, and I had was planning on applying with it to the Fundy Fringe (I know, a Christmas play in the summer seems a bit odd, but I felt like it would work), and performing it this year at Christmas.
The lottery didn’t go my way for Fundy Fringe (such is the way with Fringe). And then COVID happened, and theatres closed, and it soon became clear that they wouldn’t be re-opening any time soon.
But I had this play that was ready to be presented and I wanted to do something with it, so I started to look at options. Live streaming video was quickly looking like the way to go, but there was a lot to consider, a lot of new skills to master, and new equipment to purchase.
On the skills side, there would be learning how to do a live stream, how to light the stage area, how to ensure good sound quality, how to play sound cues in the stream. There’s also figuring out whether a single camera is enough, or if a dual camera setup would be better. And how to switch cameras on the fly.
Then there’s the equipment to think about. Is the webcam on my laptop good enough? Heck, is the laptop powerful enough to stream and not overheat? If I need a second camera, can I use my webcam and stream from there to the computer? Do I need to buy new lights? Do I need some other technology to switch between them? What about sound? Do I need a lav mic? Or can I use one of mic’s I already have? And how would I manage all of these tools if I’m the one doing the performing?
There was a lot.
Ultimately, after a lot of consideration (and a little breathing into a paper bag), I decided against video streaming as a medium.
So I started working on how to adapt this solo play designed for performance into an audio play, so that I could podcast it. So I recorded all the monologue (which seems a strange way to put it, but if it was dialogue, we’d use that phraseology, so I’m standing by it for now), and then found where the best points to break were. And fortunately for me, I was able to make each episode about 10 minutes long (give or take).
I have heard it said that audio is a visual medium (I’m paraphrasing. The original quote is that radio is a visual medium, but it works for podcasts too, so I’ll leave it as “audio”), so I didn’t feel it was enough just to record me reading, but there needed to be ambiance. I needed to be able to set the scene for the listener, so they could properly experience the story. I found Creative Commons music that I could use, and some royalty free sound effects, and built everything from a busy mall on Christmas Eve day, to a snowy Christmas Eve on a quiet street, to a playground full of kids at recess.
It was a lot of work, but I loved it. I started working on this in late July, and finished most of the work by the end of August, and since then, I’ve been tweaking, checking, recording intros and outros, and getting promo images ready to tell the story of Nick to the world.
Nick is a part-time mall Santa, who hates Christmas. It’s Christmas Eve. He shouldn’t even be working today, but he is. And he’s about to meet a most terrible child.
As I write this, I’m putting the last finishing touches on the project, and getting ready to release the trailer at the beginning of November, and the episodes will start releasing on November 17.
I hope you’ll listen. I’ll have links closer to the date.
Here’s the logo to tide you over.