Under Milk Wood – into the Studio!

Well, after 13 weeks or so of intense rehearsal that special time in every radio actor’s (daaarling!) life has finally arrived – the recording!  Our cast of twelve went into the studio to record the first portion of Dylan Thomas’s seminal play on the evening of the 10th July, under the brilliant direction and guidance of Arrow FM’s Michael Wilson and Eunice Radford.  Such a different experience from our twice-weekly rehearsals, which have become quite a social occasion, what with Ken’s superb post-rehearsal teas, and Eunice’s drop scones!  The recording sessions are much more intense and oh so nerve-wracking!  With some of the more crowded scenes, the whole cast can be crammed into the tiny Arrow FM studio in Masterton, jostling for space around the central mic, every one of us trying to avoid the squeaky floorboard!

One of my roles is that of Polly Garter – salt of the earth type who can’t seem to keep her knickers on, and has a large brood of children to prove it!  About midway through the play, Polly sings of her fondness for a number of past lovers – Tom, Dick, Harry and, her ‘best’, Wee Willy Weasel – while scrubbing the steps of the Welfare Hall in preparation for the Mothers’ Union Dance.  I can hold a tune, but I’m no singer, and whilst over the past 13 weeks my performance of the song has definitely improved, I’ve been nervous about recording it since rehearsals began.  Last night, however, the deed was done!  Eunice and Michael had me singing and scrubbing at the same time, which, like the old tapping your head/rubbing your tummy routine took a bit of mental effort, but had the surprising benefit of chasing out the worst of the nerves.   But after three takes (approximately 30 less than I imagined it would take) it was all over!  I emerged from the studio, flushed, scrubbing brush in hand, my dignity unexpectedly intact!

The aim is to wrap up recording in another couple of sessions, and then it’ll be a good few weeks of Michael editing and adding the sounds effects.  No clue yet as to when we broadcast on Access Radio, but there have also been rumours of an approach to Radio New Zealand National…. watch this space!


John Maxie playing one of his many roles, Mog Edwards

Hamish (who plays Mr Waldo) with Shelagh (Mary Ann Sailors) and Alison (Myfanwy Price)

Some of the cast, from right to left – Roxanna, Rosemary, Shelagh and Alison

Sinbad, flanked by First and Second Voice

Through the studio window, Bernard Gervais, giving it his all as the Rev. Eli Jenkins