The Velvet Sky

The Sandman is waiting

By: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Sound Design: Matt Glenn

The Velvet Sky is a dark, surreal psychological look at motherhood, abuse and the thin barrier between the worlds of dreams of reality. The show begins as Warren, husband to Bethany and father of Andrew, takes Andrew with bags packed toward the car to escape to New York, claiming that he is protecting Andrew from Bethany. We learn that Bethany has not slept in nearly 13 years, since Andrew's birth. The entire show follows the three characters as they lose themselves in New York City. All the while, Andrew is pursued by the "Sandman"—a mythical being that represents a violent loss of innocence for children.

This production of The Velvet Sky never took place—as part of the Advanced Sound Design class, I analyzed and designed the play using the guidelines of a hypothetical production on the campus of UC Irvine. The show presents a significant challenge for a sound designer hecause of the fluid transitions between the plane of reality and the warped world of Bethany's hallucinations.

Sounds from the Show

The Bathroom

The sandman makes a subtle appearence in the bathroom of the Port Authority bus station. Andrew approaches at the urinals, nervously flirting with the idea of a homosexual encounter. A joltng sounds occurs as the light in the bathroom flickers out at a key moment—an ominous sign of the Sandman's presense. The sound the blends into that of a passing train.

The Mugger

Bethany has just finished a hallucination in which her huband, Warren, and she dance at prom. She's interrupted by a long-awaited phone call from her son, Andrew. The sandman appears in the form of a mugger that pulls a gun on Bethany while she talks with Andrew. Halfway through the mugger's exchange with Bethany, his voice changes to that of the menacing Sandman, who takes the phone from her. The scene disappears into black, swelling out of the hallucination and into a museum next to a robotic dinosaur exibit.

The Bookstore

Bethany enters a hallucination in a book shop. The sandman's voice drifts across the scene, as the two converse the Sandman reveals that, while he is still a threat, he is also a creation of her mind.