Play by Laurie Brooks

Directed by Jeff Church

Sound Design by Sarah Putts

Coterie/UMKC Co-productionWinter 2013/2014

     “Afflicted: The Daughters of Salem” is a world premiere show perfromed at the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. It is a show that portrays the story of the girls who accused people of witchcraft in Salem village before the accusing actually happens. The story is the prequel to The Crucible, the story that hasn’t been told.

     For this show the prime objective was to really portray what the girls were thinking and feeling in the moments that we see—showing how these girls really started to believe that “witching” was occurring around them and to them. How we accomplish this through sound is by the use of ambiances that first create the world of the forest we are in, as well as to add tension and agitation to reinforce more intense moments; this becomes more prevalent as the story unfolds. To really bring the audience into the girls heads, I used something I like to call “sound memories”—which are the moments in the play when one of the girls is remembering something that has occurred and it is enforced by adding sound to strengthen the memory and make it more real. One such instance is when Mercy is telling the other girls about the specter who was whispering her name whilst she was out looking for wood chips for the cooking fire: we hear the voice that she believes she heard while she is talking about it, making the idea a reality in our world. As the play goes on we start to hear more ambiances and “sound memories” as we get enveloped by the girls and the secret world of the woods.

     There is however a difference between the “Puritan world” and the woods, wherein scenes that take place in the former are more stark and devoid of sound, with exceptions are we enter deeper into the story, showing that the worlds are colliding a little. Between each scene there is drumming and sometimes the voice of Reverend Paris, which helps to push the story along with a driving beat very similar to the beats that we can imagine that Tituba drums. As Tituba is our story teller, it is to be imagined that she is the one “drumming” and helping show us the untold story as our guide. These drums become more complex as the story goes along which helps to drive the plot as well as represent the jumble that these girls are creating for themselves. At the very end of the play, the world turns into a cacophony of sound layered on top of each other and continues to build until the accusing at the very end when Abigail accuses the audience center stage.  The play does not end there; it then moves into an audience participation forum where there is little to no sound so as to allow better hearing for both the audience and the forum leader when questions are asked and responded to.

Drums Created by hand specifically for Afflicted by me, using Gourds, rawhide, string, and a serving dish.

© 2014 SarahPuttsSound