11th and 12th June were much anticipated days for the Unscene Suffolk Drama group. Not only did we get to meet up in person for the first time in over a year, but we also spent the two days recording our script of The Mystery of Syleham Manor. A script written for us by brilliant playwright, Pat Whymark, we’ve had in our possession since January 2020!
We were made to feel very welcome at our recording space at The Hold, which is part of the University of Suffolk and Suffolk Archives, where we had a dedicated space to use for the two days. Outside the recording studio was a breakout room where seats were arranged at a distance and in certain ‘bubbles’ so that we limited the amount of movement and contact made within the room. Whilst a necessary precaution in order to keep everyone safe and of course comply with government guidelines, it wasn’t easy to ‘keep the noise down’ when recording when you haven’t seen one another in 15 months and the seats were at a distance across the room! I would like to say that after some early hushes the cast cottoned on quickly and saved the catch ups for breaks and lunch.
The most tricky task was the recording itself. Only 6 people were allowed in the studio at one time. One had to be the sound engineer Amy and the other our director Caroline, so that left just four available spaces for the cast. Some scenes involved 7 characters. So the way round this was to record 4 of the characters lines in one scene, whilst Amy or Caroline read in for those characters who were not in the room. Once this was done we had to do a swap to the remaining characters. So the mics, tables and chairs would be disinfected, the windows opened for an airing and then the remaining cast members for that scene would then come in, take their seats and the scene would be recorded again. It may seem complicated and it was, but it was the only way we could keep everyone safe and record the play under the current circumstances. It’s safe to say we were all very much out of our comfort zones. Even if some had stepped up to the mic before, none of us were experienced in recording in this way. After some initial uncertainty from the cast, they all quickly got into the swing of it and recording went smoothly. This is mainly due to the dedication of those who learned their lines and also all the character work they were encouraged to do in zoom rehearsals by director Caroline. Having this background knowledge and confidence in their characters, meant the cast could overcome the unknown and deliver stellar performances.
Although they were both long days we owe credit to Amy, our sound engineer, who devised the recording schedule. This not only meant that we got to record mainly in chronological order, which is always handy for telling a story, but it also meant we were able to finish at a reasonable time on Saturday and everyone was then able to head off to enjoy the last of the days sunshine – and a gin and tonic for most I would imagine!
Amy’s job is not done yet, as now the editing process begins. The group are excited to hear the final result and share it with you. More details to follow.