Episode 6: A Wedding In Jotunheim

Arthur Rackham, 1910
Arthur Rackham, 1910

Jarnsaxa takes Agent Bachman and Dr. Aspinall to her homeland, at the time when she knew only love and pride. But the burgeoning war between Asgard and Jotunheim threatens chaos. A bargain is struck, but treachery makes ancient grudges erupt.

Dr. Aspinall: John T. Zeiler

Agent Bachman: Katherine Kupiecki

Jarnsaxa: MaryLynn Mennicke

Loki: Ethan Bjelland

Vala: Delta Giordano

Balder: Shannon Troy Jones

Thor: Derek Meyer

Thrym: Himself

Featuring The Jotunheim Chorus

Written by Lindsay Harris Friel

Directed by Carin Bratlie Wethern

Sound design, engineering and music by Vincent Friel

Dramaturgy by Kit Gordon

This episode of Jarnsaxa Rising was sponsored by Sam Landman.

Subscribe, review and rate us on iTunes! We want to hear from you.

For more information, visit JarnsaxaRising.com.

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Photo by Béla Stéhli
Photo by Béla Stéhli
W.G. Collingswood, 1910
W.G. Collingswood, 1910

Episode 2: The Hungry Place

Rocky Shore at Ballintoy by Andrew Wood

Episode 2: The Hungry Place

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Agent Bachman and Dr. Aspinall meet the devastation caused by the Hei Shui corporation, and a harsh landscape, where figures appearing from the mist bring more questions than answers.

Cast in order of appearance:

Agent Bachman: Katherine Kupiecki

Dr. Aspinall: John T. Zeiler

Mrs. Wallace: Molly Pach Johnson

Björn: Derek Meyer

Written by Lindsay Harris Friel

Directed by Carin Bratlie Wethern

Sound design, engineering and music by Vincent Friel

Dramaturgy by Kit Gordon

Special Thanks to Dagny of the Åland Islands Tourism Bureau for assistance with language and dialect. Tack så mycket!

This episode of Jarnsaxa Rising was sponsored by Brian Watson-Jones.

Subscribe, review and rate us on iTunes! We want to hear from you.

For more information, visit JarnsaxaRising.com.

Not a big tease, but a tease nonetheless.

JR9-14-15Jarnsaxa’s coming with the full moon.
In the meantime, here’s a clip for you to enjoy at your leisure.

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You can also use our RSS feed link, if you use a podcast app that asks for them, such as Podcast Addict.  http://jarnsaxarising.libsyn.com/rss

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Take us with you!

 

Jarnsaxa Rising: Where’d you get this stuff? Research and inspiration.

JR9-14-15As Robin Williams once said about Jim Henson, “you can’t come up with this stuff on just plain air.” He meant something else in particular. My point is that no writer ever creates their work in a complete vacuum. When we set out to create Jarnsaxa Rising, not only did I do a lot of research, but a lot of inspirations appeared that fueled this story. Some of these, such as witch bottles, Viking party beverages, language and dialect, and aural inspirations, I’ll go into greater detail about later. For now, here are the story’s major sources.

capaldi-tennant-firesWhen Carin gave me the first prompt that would become Jarnsaxa Rising, and I started writing notes, an outline and the first draft, the influence of Doctor Who hung over me. Both Carin and I are fans of Doctor Who, and this story’s blending of ancient wisdom with contemporary and future sensibilities inspired me.  Unfortunately, it made me lazy as a writer. Audiences have decades of assumptions about The Doctor, so when he comes into a conflict, the writers have less work to do. As a nearly-thousand-year-old Time Lord who can regenerate, his stakes weren’t appropriate to our story. It did, however, provide the sense that the team must save each other, (as the Doctor tries to do for his companions) and unearth the deeper conflict which threatens a whole world.

Odin arrives at Valhalla, riding his eight-legged horse, Slepnir

Reading The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda helped me with the stakes and conflicts of Old Norse mythology. Jarnsaxa isn’t mentioned much. I suppose that the Christianization of Europe made Sif a more popular female character. She’s mentioned in Godchecker, The Mythology Wiki, and captured imagination on Deviant Art and in An Archive Of Our Own.

On Coursera, a course about Old Norse culture, Sagas and Space, proved to be the most helpful. This University of Zurich course teaches how the Vikings thought about their land, their spiritual and social space, and how these elements tie together to create a cultural mind set. The course includes lectures by various experts from Europe and North America, and each gave me another point of entry to find new information.

apocalypse In particular. Dr. Terry Gunnell’s work was the most inspiring. His area of expertise includes Old Norse folk beliefs, ritual, legends, and Scandinavian theatre, both medieval and modern. Toward the end of his video lecture in the Sagas and Space course, he describes the experience of being in a Viking hall, surrounded by smoke, rich odors, and masked revellers, hearing a story told in a heightened way, and how the listener is elevated to transcend reality.  His articles helped me find the notion of the draugr, and the power of disguise traditions. Gunnell’s work is intoxicating and exciting.

T. Boone Pickens. Photo by Brandon Hoffman.
T. Boone Pickens. Photo by Brandon Hoffman.

Moving in a different direction, The Pickens Plan provided a lot of fodder for this story. Oil baron T. Boone Pickens planned to invest approximately $1 trillion in wind farming in the Great Plains.  In 2008. he claimed that this plan would reduce American oil spending by 43%, create 138,000 jobs in the first year, and 3.4 billion jobs over the next ten.  Despite the benefits of wind power, natural gas is financially cheaper in the short term than wind farming (though infinitely more devastating).  In 2012, Pickens sold off his last stake in wind farming, abandoning a wind company called New Era LLC. This company tried to move forward with building a farm in Goodhue County, Minnesota. However, the project ceased development in 2012, after citizen opposition claimed the farm posed a threat to eagles and bats. So much for 138,000 jobs and sustainability.

Revengers_Tragedy_DVD_cover Jarnsaxa Rising’s revenge tragedy structure came from my Dramatic Lit seminar class at Temple, and reading and re-reading The Spanish Tragedy and Hamlet. A really enjoyable part of immersing myself in revenge tragedy was the movie Revengers Tragedy, directed by Alex Cox, and starring Christopher Eccleston, Derek Jacobi, and Eddie Izzard. It’s a classic revenge tragedy, set in a sexy contemporary world, and I highly recommend it.

And so we come full circle; I started with Doctor Who on my mind, and ended with Christopher Eccleston in a Thomas Middleton drama.

But, of course, I had to push all these sources to the background, and just tell a good story. Hopefully, what you’ll get out of this is an exciting, deep, relevant tale. Which you should get to start listening to, in eight days.

Late-Summer Progress Report

Editing the podcast means a lot of listening, so I knit to keep from going insane.
Editing the podcast means a lot of listening to the same thing over and over and over again. So, I knit to keep from going insane.

You haven’t heard from us for a long time. We’re sincerely sorry for the silence. However, it is for a Really Good Reason. We’re deep in the editing phase, and it is slow going.

During our weekend in Minneapolis, we recorded a little bit over ten hours of data in two days. Now, Lindsay is sorting through the files in Garage Band, editing out the mistakes and hiccups. Once an episode’s file is clean, she passes it on to Vince.

Vince is using Logic to mix the episodes, adding the sound effects and making magic. This also is slow going.

“How slow is it?” I’ve been using The Pomodoro Technique to stay on task and productive, because otherwise my spine whines, my eyeballs complain, and I start gnashing my teeth and screaming at myself when I make mistakes. Episode 10, alone, took 20 Pomodoros. I’ll let you do the math.

IMG_3938One of the things we’ve learned is that there are very good reasons to record actors separately, in their own sound booths. It makes things much easier to edit and mix afterwards. However, if it comes down to a choice between carefully picking apart a sound wave to separate where one performer talked over another, or having the actors separated in performance, I’ll gladly pick the former.  Good actors can always imagine environment, stakes, other characters. It’s why Bob Hoskins was engaging in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or why Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug is more than just an animated lizard. But, in our case we had a choice, and that choice was to have the performers able to look each other in the eye.

Almost all of the dialogue editing is complete. This isn’t really important right now. What is important is…

(drumroll)

Indiegogo Fulfillment! (kisssssshhhh!!!!)

Viking stone tablet
WARNING: Your letter will not be carved on a stone tablet. Please prepare accordingly.

I promised that letters would go out late in the summer. They will.  I’m going to send out a backer survey very soon to those who picked the letter option, and soon you’ll receive your one-of-a-kind tangible personal art object from the Jarnsaxa Rising character of your choice.

In the meantime, stay tuned, there’s more to come.

P.S. Did you know that September 28 will be a total lunar eclipse, also known as a blood moon?

Sounds like a good time for a party.

Press for the Process!

Recording. L-R: John Zeiler, Carin Bratlie, Katherine Kupiecki, Vincent Friel, Delta Rae Giordano. Crashed out on bed at center: MaryLynn Mennicke.
Recording. L-R: John Zeiler, Carin Bratlie, Katherine Kupiecki, Vincent Friel, Delta Rae Giordano. Crashed out on bed at center: MaryLynn Mennicke (who should been exhausted by this point).

Howlround.com has published a blog post that I wrote for them about adjusting from writing for theater to writing for audio drama.

A Playwright’s Learning Curve with Audio Drama

Vince and I are now back in Philadelphia. We have to get the house back in order and deprogram our pets, who seem to have been convinced we would never return.  Soon I’ll post some more about the recording process and what we learned. Suffice it to say, the experience was amazing. The people who worked on this are the most positive, productive people I’ve ever met. But right now, I need to shut my eyes and meditate on this for a bit. We have our editing work cut out for us.

Stay tuned!

 

Thank you, everyone!

Odin arrives at Valhalla, riding his eight-legged horse, Slepnir
Odin arrives at Valhalla, riding his eight-legged horse, Slepnir. Photo by Berig. Image stone from from Tjängvide, Alskog Gotland (Go 110)This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Jarnsaxa Rising’s Indiegogo campaign is complete. As I write this, we are in Minneapolis*. Tonight, we have our first table reading with the cast and director. As I’m writing this, Vince is taking a well-earned nap, for putting up with an over-excited playwright. I’m watching raindrops on maple leaves outside the window, and getting all my notes and administrative stuff in order.

Thank you to everyone who contributed, who passed along links to the campaign, who clicked “like” and “share” buttons, and who patted me on the back when I said, “crowdfunding is scary.” Thank you to everyone who made me explain my ideas so I could focus and clarify them, including my thirteen year old friend Archer, who, at one point, said, “Is this a comedy?”

Speaking of since fiction and comedy, we also have to thank the creative team behind The Hadron Gospel Hour. I started listening to their podcast a few months ago, and enjoyed it enough that Jarnsaxa has been taunting their characters on Twitter. They were kind enough to promote our Indiegogo campaign, and I didn’t even had to ask them. Like our characters, The Hadron Gospel Hour’s Dr. Oppenheimer and Mike travel through space and time trying to make things right. However, they’re less vengeful, and funnier.

English: An original card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of en:Lyon, a classic "Marseilles" deck. The deck dates from 1701-1715. By Fuzzypeg at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Strength. An original card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, a classic “Marseilles” deck. The deck dates from 1701-1715.
There is no playbook for, “let’s travel halfway across the country to record a science fiction revenge tragedy audio drama serial,” and the risk has been nerve wracking at times. Having people say, “Of course this is a good idea,” gives us strength and courage.

Thank you again for helping us take risks and bring an unusual story to life.

———–

*If you’re saying to yourself, “Self, doesn’t that mean that their house is unguarded?” then you can guess again. If you’re casing out our house, you have probably already met our police-trained and extremely dangerous house-sitter. He waters plants, cuddles cats, and strikes without warning. Good luck with that.