Entering Professional Theatre
Chapter 5: Practicum
By John Bent Jr. (MSW)
The Final Step In Sound Walking
Now that you have passed the written exam, it’s time for part 2 of the certification process. The practical experience portion of accreditation.
Practicum is separated into 6 different walking activities, each with its own set of problems. You only have to complete one of the tasks to become a sound walker or “Journeyman of Enveloping Decibel Induction”, but you need to complete three of the tasks to become a Master Sound Walker, and All Six to obtain a PHDSW or become a “Doc Walker”.
A PHDSW with Friend Abe Coon
Practicum 1 – Home Walking
Just like other professions (surgeon, hostage negotiator, King), sound walking can be practised in one’s own home.
Start off by clearing a generous area in your trailer. Insert a Pantera album into your CD player (for best results use “Vulgar Display of Power” or “Cowboys from Hell”). Turn the volume on the stereo to full and put on your velveteen suit. Use the Apogee step from chapter 2 first, then switch to the San Francisco Swish.
Soon, the entire trailer park will know that you are a sound walker as the walls of your trailer shake with the pounding vocals of Phil Anseimo, the screaming guitar of Dimebag Darrell, the ramming rhythm of Vinnie Paul, and the throbbing bass of Rex Brown.
Pantera is the band of choice for sound walking and weddings
Remember to keep focused, ignore the phone, the banging on the door, and the bullets coming through the windows. When the door is broken down by the police, start screaming obscenities at the top of your lungs.
Continue sound walking and screaming until the police put you in their cruiser. Call a colleague or loved one to arrange for bail. If you can’t afford bail, trade your velveteen suit to gain favour with the guards.
Sound walker being arrested in his trailer park.
Practicum 2 – Semaphore Immersion
In order to better understand the nuances of “flagging the walker”, review chapter 3. Then go to bed with a set of flags beside your bed. When you wake up, you may only communicate using semaphore.
Tell the dog to get off the couch…
When you wrestle the flags back from the dog, go catch your bus. Ask the driver for a transfer….
Strike up a conversation with a fellow passenger…
Get off the bus at the Tim Horton’s and order a double double…
Go to your local airport, stand on the runway, and talk to the planes…
Arrange bail with a colleague or a loved one. If you can’t afford bail, use semaphore to plead with your new cell mate “Bubba”.
A soundwalker practising Semaphore just before he gets hit by a truck
Practicum 3 – Community Theatre
Before many theatre crafts-people became professionals, they honed their skills at amateur or community theatres. But sound walking may be an alien term to these people, so we must thrust it upon them.
Find the nearest community theatre. They may be performing in a school gym, a community centre, or an abattoir. 97 times out of 100 they will be performing the Pirates of Penzance. Run out on to the stage, and start sound walking. To keep your rhythm, start singing “I am the very model of a modern Major-General” at the top of your lungs.
97% of Community Theatres have a production of
“The Pirates of Penzance” playing at any given time
Don’t worry if you make a mistake, just start from the beginning. Also don’t worry if you are in one of the 3% of community theatres that is performing “The Miracle Worker”, sing the Major-General song anyway because the audience would rather see Pirates of Penzance than that play about the deaf dumb and blind girl, even if she does play a mean pinball.
Keep sound walking and singing. Ignore the boos, the thrown programs and beer bottles. Keep focused until the police arrive. Then take a deep bow and blow kisses to the audience.
Call a colleague or loved one to arrange for bail. If you can’t afford bail, sing Gilbert and Sullivan songs to the warden to shorten your sentence.
3% of Community Theatres have a production of “The Miracle Worker” playing
even though audiences prefer “The Pirates of Penzance”
Practicum 4 – Educational Prospects
Unfortunately, not everyone has the skill and odour to become a sound walker. But just like every profession, those who can’t do, teach!
Find a local university and proceed there with an overhead projector and a card table. Set up shop in a common area like the front lawn, a major hallway, or the dean’s office. Start reciting chapters 1 through 3 to passers by while demonstrating all the activities. Use funny voices and puppets to get your points across. Show the students all the techniques borrowed from the Navy, including the underwear parade, and invite students to join in. Continue until the police arrive.
Call a colleague or loved one to arrange for bail. If you can’t afford bail, start an underwear parade in the prison, you will be very popular.
NASWA Sponsored Underwear Parade
Practicum 5 – Cultural Exchange
The ancient art of Sound Walking is practised world wide. From the majestic mountains of Saskatchewan, to the wonderful oceans of Tajikistan, sound walking has become the darling of the theatre world.
But there are cultural differences that effect how you dodge the chicken. For instance in France, sound walkers don’t get paid in shiny beads and canned ham. Instead, they receive a bottle of wine and a Jerry Lewis video cassette for their sound walking efforts.
To complete this Practical exercise, you must bring your North American know-how to a foreign country such as North Korea.
Pay-day in France
Go to your local bus station and get on a bus to North Korea. Once there find the Pyongyang National Players. Chances are they will be performing a production of the Pirates Of Penzance.
Get up on that stage and show them how it is done. They will marvel at the Jack Apogee step, and swoon over your velveteen suit. But you must include some of their culture as well. North Koreans love nothing more than political satire. So while goose-stepping on the stage say “Kim Jong-il was a big jerk!” over and over again.
Since you are in a different country, arranging bail will be difficult. The authorities will give you a blindfold and a cigarette and you can wait for what happens next.
Practicum 6 – Independent studies
If none of the previous practical exercises appeal to you, why not create your own. Sound walk at a seniors home, or invent a tastier ham. Just make sure you arrange for bail with a colleague or loved one.
An example of an independent study exercise was used recently at the Stratford Festival. A young upcoming sound walker named Peter McBoyle was in despair about the sound pressure difference in the Avon Theatre when an audience was present.
While working as a seat filler at the Genie awards, an idea hit him. “Sound walkers have bums too!”. Pete then hired every sound walker that he could find to fill all 1072 seats of the Avon during a rehearsal. The results were magnificent.
Sound – Sitters in the Avon Theatre in Stratford Ontario
But the celebration was short lived. Paying the sound sitters their required payment of canned ham, resulted in the region’s worst pork shortage. Prices for canned ham shot through the roof, and people had to go as far as West Perth to get a canned ham. The economic turmoil that resulted was devastating and almost closed the doors to the festival for good. The producers tried to blame the catastrophe on something called “SARS”, but everybody knows that it was due to the great Peter McBoyle Pork scandal.
Due to the mixed results of this independent study exercise, Petey was awarded the title of “Junior Sound Walker 3rd Class”, which is awarded to any sound walker that creates a new facet of sound walking while systematically destroying the economy of a community.
Soup Kitchen in Stratford after the Peter McBoyle Pork Scandal
Submitting Your Work
In order to receive your walking papers, Practical Exercises must be reviewed by the NASWA staff. In order for the staff of the Apogee Institute in South Western Greenland to review your work, they will need a photo or video of your activity. Submit your photos or videos of sound walking along with a finished copy of the written exam to NASWA@mac.com, or in person at the Apogee Sound Walking Institute in south-western Greenland.
Don’t forget to make a record of your work
You are now ready to sound walk and carry the flags of many a sound walker before you. Remember to keep your steps balanced, your velveteen suit brushed, and your beads shiny and you will advance in this exciting field in no time.
From time to time supplements to this manual will be published to help you in the ever growing field of sound walking.
Until then, I leave you with the words of the Godfather of sound walking, Jack Apogee… “Get your mitts off my ham you sleazy bead counter or I’ll break your arm!”… Words to live by….. Words to live by.
Jack Apogee walking sound with students dreaming of a canned ham.
PDF Download: SoundwalkingChapter5