Deathscribe 2016: A Few Words with Daniel Dauphin

WildClaw Theatre Company proudly presents Deathscribe 2016, the Ninth Annual International Festival of Radio Horror Plays on Monday, December 5th, at 8:00pm. This collection of bone-chilling audio nightmares will be performed live at Deathscribe’s NEW VENUE, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!

The Woman Below

By Daniel Dauphin
Directed by Jessica Mondres
Featuring Mari Marroquin, Rob Koon, and Pamela Maurer

Alice McKellan of the salvage ship Trident found something spectacular at the bottom of the ocean that could change history and make them all very very rich indeed. Why, oh why, did she bring it on board?

Daniel Dauphin is a Chicago-based actor, writer, illustrator, and fight choreographer. He was a co-writer and actor in Big Bad, his first feature-length film, which was released this summer on Amazon and iTunes. In Chicago, he has worked as an actor with Organic Theatre Company, Stage Left, Steep, and Red Theatre Chicago, and he’s provided fight choreography for Neo-Futurists, Eclectic Theatre Company, and ph Comedy. He’d like to thank his wife for her love and support, and apologize to his newborn daughter for maybe introducing her to horror films too soon.

Recently WildClaw’s resident Mistress of Malevolence Ele Matelan transfixed this year’s Deathscribe finalists with her withering glare. Below are some of the answers she conjured from Daniel Dauphin:

How did you get into horror? What excites you most about writing horror, compared to other genres?

I’ve been a horror fanatic ever since I was a child. My mother got me hooked, as no one else in my family enjoyed watching horror films, so I was her only backup. If things got too gory, she’d hide her eyes behind a pillow, and I’d have to tell her what was happening on screen. Assuming that I wasn’t also hiding behind a pillow. As soon as I was old enough to ride my bike to the video store, or to pick up a copy of Fangoria magazine from the 7-11, it was all downhill from there.

Now the easy answer to “what excites me about writing horror” is that it’s just incredible fun. But I also think it’s interesting how it seems like the genre of storytelling that has the most staying power. A good horror story influences your behavior for hours afterward. Perhaps even a lifetime. Whether it’s just a reluctance to turn out the lights at night, or a lifelong aversion to swimming in open water, horror has staying power that’s just fascinating.

What was the hook for you in this story? What came first, the story or the sound?

For “The Woman Below,” the sound came first. I’d never written for radio before and when I started kicking around ideas, the starting point, for better or worse, was what could I write that literally sounded interesting. I hadn’t listened to a lot of radio horror before starting, and I’ve since discovered a lot of effective horror that didn’t center on that notion, so it’s not necessarily how I’d start again. But for this go-round, it’s what worked for me. As far as actual story content goes, ever since Jaws, any horror story set on or near the water works for me. Two of the biggest nightmare elements are isolation and powerlessness, and the middle of the ocean is the perfect spot for both.

What do you consider the biggest challenge in writing for “radio,” compared to traditional theatre?

Without a doubt, it’s the exposition. Sound design obviously carries a lot of weight on creating the setting and conveying the action, but since I wasn’t writing this with a sound designer handy, it was hard to judge as to what I could (or should) depend on from the foley artist vs. what I’d have to specify for a listener. It definitely affected how many characters I felt I needed to make a scene work.

What sound would you most like to see/hear performed in a Deathscribe piece?

I’ve got an idea that I almost chased down that would involve a fair amount of industrial noise and crowd chatter. So it would be awfully convenient if there someone did a story in such a setting to sort of guinea pig the possibilities for me so I’d know if it was worth putting that one on paper.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Deathscribes?

There’s a ton of radio horror out there. Dig it up and give it a listen. If I learned anything from it, it’s that two voices in the darkness can be just as effective as a cacophony of sound, so long as the characters are interesting. Good storytelling is always good storytelling.

Also, just do the damn thing. Don’t drag your feet. Just do it.

What scares you?

The long, slow end of the world. I’m dreading the day I read the headline, for real, that says “all the bees have died”. “There’s a genuine global coffee shortage.” That sort of thing. What one thing is going to kick off the rest of civilization into Mad Max territory?

Also dolls. Dolls creep me out.

What question do you wish I’d asked, and how would you answer it?

What’s your favorite short, scary story? “The Jaunt,” by Stephen King. It’s longer than you think.

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