19 Feb 2017

Unruly: Conversion to Audio

After listening to a number of fan audio works for Lost in Translation and working on a Star Trek audio play to see how the mechanics work, I decided to see if I could adapt Unruly to the format.  I started with A New Girl Chapter 1, seeing that it is the first chapter of the series and wound up adapting the entire arc.

The first thing I had to deal with was the narrator.  Audio books use one to read the story.  Audio plays are native to the medium, so having a narrator read the stage directions would break the feel.  But the nature of the school needs to get out there.  Elspeth Stone is the perfect character to set things up; she's the headmistress and the first person Laura deals with.  Laura's arrival had to change; instead of following her in from the road in the back seat of a car, I started in Ms Stone's office, cutting to the chase.

Introducing the rest of the cast got awkward.  Something that could be dealt with in a paragraph now has each girl speaking up when her name is mentioned.  The editing of the dialogue will have to make the scene flow smooth.  All the action has to be conveyed by sound, even minor details like walking.  The bit at the beginning where the car Laura came in gets destroyed by a flock of Jennifers, while easy to slip in with prose, now becomes a series of sound effects that can't overshadow the dialogue.

There are still details to work out, like music, but I do have a few ideas.  The main idea is something original, to avoid dealing with clearances.  However, I did run into a song by Kid Creole and the Coconuts, "I'm a Wonderful Thing, Baby" which could work for the closing music.  The closing credits are based on what I've heard in other audio plays; Starship Excelsior has each actor announce him/herself at the beginning.  I've moved the the actor list to the end, in case there are spoilers just by announcing who is in an episode.

After the break, the script for "Arrival".  This link to the original chapter should open in a new tab if you want to compare.  Enjoy!

The New Girl
Chapter 1 - Arrival
By SD Delahunt

Effects: Theme music
ELSPETH (v.o.): The Ulrich F. Gephardt Academy for Unruly Girls was founded outside Oshawa in 1886 to help young, troubled women turn their lives around.  In 1889, U. F. Gephardt changed the mission, refining the girls to become his personal army.  Gephardt retired to the Century Manor Asylum in Hamilton after suffering a nervous breakdown.  The Academy, however, still continues, helping troubled and troublesome girls get an education and a good start in life, whatever their ambitions are.

Effect: Theme music fade out.

ELSPETH: Welcome to Unruly: The New Girl, Episode 1, "Arrival".

Scene 1
Set: Headmistress' Office.

Effects: Fade in to office sounds.

ELSPETH: Unruly, The New Girl, Chapter 1, Arrival.  Written by SD Delahunt.

Effects: Door opening.  Woman's footsteps in stiletto heels on hardwood floor.

ELSPETH: Thank you for bringing her here  I'll take over from here.  Is there anything that needs to be signed?

MAN IN BLACK 1: No, ma'am.

ELSPETH: You two can leave.

MAN IN BLACK 1: Ma'am.

MAN IN BLACK 2: Ma'am.

Effects: Two sets of men's footsteps, rushed but not running.  Outer door opening and closing.

LAURA: Ma'am.

Effects: Two sets of women's footsteps, one lighter than the other.  Door closing.  Chairs being pulled out.

ELSPETH: Hello, Laura.  (Effects: Desk drawer opening.  File folder.  Desk drawer closing.)  Welcome to the Ulrich F. Gephardt Academy for Unruly Girls.  I am Headmistress Stone.  You can call me Headmistress or Ms Stone.  (Effect: Pages turning.)  Laura Jones.  From Toronto, correct?

LAURA: Yes, Headmistress.

Effect: Car engine starting, wheels screeching, all outside.

ELSPETH: Good.  We have the right Laura Jones, then.  Normally, we don't get girls arriving after the school year has started, especially girls in their final year.  I understand there are circumstances that made it necessary.

LAURA: Yes, Headmistress.  I was--

ELSPETH: You don't have to explain.  The Academy is more interested in making sure all our girls succeed in whatever endeavour they attempt.  We have a long list of graduates who have made a name for themselves.  I, too, am a graduate.

Effect: Small explosion.  Car crashing.

ELSPETH: (chuckling) The younger girls are so full of energy today.  Come along, Laura.  Time to meet your new roommates.

LAURA: Yes, ma'am.  Headmistress.

Effects: Footsteps on hardwood.  Door opening and closing.  Follow the footsteps on marble and fade out.

Scene 2
Set: Caitlin's dorm.

Effects: Fade in footsteps on marble arriving at top of stairs, then follow to door.  Knocking on thick door.  Door opening.

ELSPETH: Hello, ladies.

CAITLIN: Headmistress.

Effects: Footsteps on carpet.

SKYE: Miss Stone.

ELSPETH: I have your new roommate.  Autumn, put the tablet down.

Effect: Tablet computer set down on nightstand.

AUTUMN: (sighing) Yes, Miss Stone.

ELSPETH: Girls, this is your new roommate, Laura Jones.  I trust that you will treat her like you would any other student here.  Laura, this is Caitlin Kane-O'Shaugnessy.

CAITLIN: Hello, Laura.

ELSPETH: Skye Martin.


ELSPETH: And Autumn Ng, over on the bed.

LAURA: Hi, guys.  (Effects: Footsteps on carpet as Caitlin walks around Laura.)  Um.

ELSPETH: I'm sure you will work things out.  Caitlin, make sure Laura understands the rules.  Skye, don't forget your math homework.  Autumn, leave the tablet alone.

AUTUMN: Yes, Miss Stone.

ELSPETH: Laura, your uniform should be in next week.  Do what you can to match, but you won't get in trouble for not wearing your uniform until after it arrives.

Effect: Stiletto heels on carpet.  Door opening.  Stiletto heels on marble.  Door closing.

CAITLIN: Welcome to the Academy.  There are four rules here.  Skye?

Effect: Chair being pushed back on carpet.

SKYE: First rule, always wear your uniform.  Obviously, that starts once you get yours.

LAURA: I get it.  Pride in our school and all that BS.

CAITLIN: Well, no.  Fair warning to everyone else.  The rule came about after the Geneva Conventions and was imposed by the city.

LAURA: Imposed?

SKYE: Second rule, the Academy is never to get involved.

LAURA: That makes no sense at all.

CAITLIN: It will.

LAURA: How?  If we're supposed to wear our uniforms all the time, how can the school not get involved?

Effect: Girl getting out of bed.  Tablet being picked up from table.

AUTUMN: That's the challenge.

SKYE: Third rule, always support your sisters.

LAURA: No matter what?  What if I don't agree with what any of you are doing?

CAITLIN: Support comes in many forms.

LAURA: Is everyone here this cryptic?

Effects: As Autumn speaks the next line, girl walking on carpet, cupboard door opening, mug being taken from cupboard, cupboard door closing

AUTUMN: Hey, you're the one coming to a new school.  It makes perfect sense to us.

LAURA: Fine.  What's the fourth rule?

SKYE: Don't get caught.

LAURA: Don't get . . .  I see.

CAITLIN: Not quite, but you're getting there.  Skye, take our new roommate out to meet everyone else.  I have some plans that need revising.

SKYE: Sure.  It's not as complex as you think.

LAURA: Maybe.

Effect: Door opening.  Two sets of footsteps on marble.

SKYE: I guess you came in that car that the Jennifers destroyed?

LAURA: Jennifers?

SKYE: The first years.  They're always so enthusiastic this early in the semester.  They must have just covered dangerous chemicals in Chem.

LAURA: And the Academy gave them access?

Effect: Footsteps stop.

SKYE: Not 'gave', exactly.  Laura, right?

LAURA: Right.

SKYE: Laura, I don't know what your previous school was like, but the Academy is nothing like any public school.  Some students here can't handle traditional schools.

Effects: Knocking on thick door.  Door opening.

CASSIE: Skyescraper!  You've come to visit!  Come in, come in.  And you brought a friend!

Effect: Two sets of footsteps walking from marble to carpet.

SKYE: (sighing) And then there's some who shouldn't be inflicted on others.  Hello, Cassie.  Are your roomies around?

VAMSI: I thought I heard you, Skye.

Effect: Door closing.

CASSIE: Vammie, Skyescraper brought a friend over.  Isn't that cute?

SKYE: Vamsi, Cass, this is Laura.  Laura, this is Vamsi and the blonde is Cassie.  Where are the twins?

VAMSI: Flora's in the lab.

CASSIE: I thought that was Fawna.  Flora's off in the basement.

VAMSI: One of them is in the lab, the other's off summoning demons.  Both of them are off performing crimes against nature.

LAURA: Summoning demons?

Effects: Girl sitting down on a bed.

VAMSI: They're both off creating abominations of nature, let's put it that way.  So, Laura, welcome to the Academy.  It'll be bewildering for a few days, then you'll get used to it.

LAURA: I don't think I will.  Thanks, though.

VAMSI: And if there's anything you need, you just let me know.  Anything.  Reminds me.  Skye, can you let Caitlin know her package is going to take a little more time?  My supply chain suffered an unfortunate arrest.

SKYE: I'll let her know.  We should get going.  I'm giving Laura the grand tour.

VAMSI: Don't forget to show her the library.

CASSIE: Library?  Really?  Boring.

SKYE: Some of us don't need to move our mouths when reading, Cassie.  We better keep going. 

Effects: Door opening.  Girl getting out of bed.  Running on carpet.

VAMSI: Before you go.  Laura, did anyone mention the twenty-four hour rule to you?

LAURA: No.  What twenty-four hour rule?  I thought there were only four rules.

VAMSI: It's not a rule but a tradition, really.  Any new girl gets twenty-four hours to get used to the Academy and life here before she can be the target of a scheme.

LAURA: And that starts the moment she arrives on campus, right?

VAMSI: You're starting to get life here.

LAURA: But what about, 'Support your sisters'?

VAMSI: Fourth rule, 'Don't get caught.'

SKYE: We should keep going.  Thanks, Vamsi.

Effects: Two sets of footsteps walking on marble floor.  Door closing.  Footsteps.  Door opening.

CAITLIN: Skye, we need to go into town.

SKYE: You sure, Caitlin?  So soon after what Verity did last week?

CAITLIN: She won't expect a thing, not with Laura joining us.  It'll be a good introduction.

Effects: Music swells.

ELSPETH: Next time on Unruly: The New Girl Chapter 2, "The Girls of Saint Dymphna".

CAITLIN: Don't lie, but don't tell the truth.

VERITY: There is an all-girls school for troublemakers, hellions, miscreants, criminals both past and future, succubi, and reprobates.  The Academy for Unruly Girls, well and truly named, really.

Effects: Closing theme music.

ELSPETH: This was Unruly: The New Girl, Episode 1, Arrival, starring in order of appearance:
? as Headmistress Elspeth Stone.

MAN IN BLACK 1: ? as Man in Black 1.

MAN IN BLACK 2: ? as Man in Black 2.

LAURA: ? as Laura Jones.

CAITLIN: ? as Caitlin Kane-O'Shaughnessy.

SKYE: ? as Skye Martin.

AUTUMN: ? as Autumn Ng.

CASSIE: ? as Cassie Pike.

VAMSI: ? as Vamsi Kamala.

ELSPETH: Music by ?.  Engineered by ?.  Written and directed by SD Delahunt.  Produced by ?.  Unruly created by SD Delahunt.  Thanks for listening!


  1. It's often interesting, considering other mediums for things - I imagine your "Lost in Translation" work gives you particular insight. :) Good call on the Headmaster giving an opening narration, and leading it into her scene. She doesn't appear that much going forwards though (it's mostly Laura), not sure how that works for paying her actress - I wonder, would it work for Laura too, in subsequent parts? Or maybe if she was reading a brochure? Hm.

    You mention the car explosion being slipped in. Thing there is, we're not sure if the car crashed into something because it exploded, or whether something exploded on the road, sending it into a tree... and Elspeth then seems vaguely psychic, commenting on things without so much as a movement towards a window or anything. Laura also doesn't react. So it's only a big deal later, when Skye brings it up. Conversely, the footsteps is an interesting addition, constant reminders of the sort of surface where they are (marble flooring hadn't even occurred). I also feel like different voices would help cement the characters better here, given the number of new people. While at the same time, you lose details, like Caitlin's red hair. It really is a bit of a trade-off, huh? Well done on bringing it together.

    As far as the closing music, it has that repetitive vibe going for it, but they mumble the lyrics, IMHO. I wonder which is more important for this sort of adaptation. I'm out of my element, not even listening to podcasts.

    1. Lost in Translation does give me insights. I do want to try adapting myself, as proof of concept of what I'm discovering, but the production is far more than a one person job. :) I keep Elspeth around for the later parts as the narrator; I figured it made sense for the Headmistress to lead in and lead out each ep. I could also pass the job around to different cast members, like Caitlin and Vamsi, depending on the episode.

      I completely missed Laura's reaction. She needs to make a vocal exclamation, and possibly have a bigger explosion. Elspeth, though, does get to be somewhat psychic; she was expecting the Jennifers to do something to the car. The footsteps came to mind as I pictured the scene in my head; it was the only way I could think of to show that the characters were moving through the school. That's going to be key, the casting. I need the voices distinctive enough that people can tell Skye from Autumn. And, yes, details get lost, like Caitlin's red hair and pale skin, but it can be mentioned when it becomes important.

      I found the lyrics, if that will help. http://www.lyricsfreak.com/k/kid+creole+the+coconuts/im+a+wonderful+thing+baby_20837607.html Chances are that the cast and crew will be mentioned over top of the music, though, so that washes out the lyrics more. An instrumental version of it could work.