Cast & Crew
Amelia: Julane Havens
Charlie: Patrick DuLaney
Beth: Elana Kepner
Dr. Sykes: Johnny Wolfe
Harold: Jay Akin
Larry: Jason Loverde
Carolyn: Ashlee LaPine
Dr. May: Vanessa Severo
Thomas Malone: T.J. Chasteen
Jessica Tripp: Carrie Lenahan
Barclay Roberts: Anthony Merchant
Paul Henley: Ted Swetz
Lester Kane: Todd Lanker
Shopkeeper: Tyler Miller
Sound Effects: T.J. Chasteen
Sound Effects: Todd Lanker
Sound Effects: Kyle Hatley
Sound Effects: Merlin James Alexandre Salisbury
Producer: Merlin James Alexandre Salisbury
Assistant Producer: Tim Brandsted
Assistant Producer: Ashley Turner
Assistant Producer: Alec Labau
Assistant Producer: Benjamin Stickels
Assistant Producer: Tim Munger
Assistant Director: T.J. Chasteen
Concept: Matt Reed
Concept: Kyle Hatley
Writer: Kyle Hatley
Director: Kyle Hatley
Announcer: Tom Badgett
Special Thanks to:
- The Department of Theatre at the University of Missouri – Kansas City
- Tom Mardikes, Chair of the Department of Theatre, Head of MFA Sound Design
- Ted Swetz, Head of MFA Acting
- Merlin James Alexandre Salisbury
- The Kansas City Repertory Theatre
- Eric Rosen, Artistic Director
- Jerry Genochio, Associate Director of Production
This story is a collage of stories that has evolved in my mind over time. I remember hearing about it first on the radio, of all places. During the last few years of high school, the Art Bell show — a late-night program that featured stories, interviews, and dialogue surrounding the strange and unexplained phenomena of our world — was on my father’s truck radio when my brother and I would help him on a paper route in the middle of the night. I remember Art talking at length in terrifying hyperbole about this shocking discovery that scientists had made in Siberia in the early 70’s. The discovery involved drillers and a recording — and that the audio evidence was only just now being released publically. According to the program, the file contained the actually recorded sounds of hell. Being an atheist then and now, I remember laughing at the idea of such a discovery. But when they played the file, I stopped laughing. Despite my beliefs, it terrified me. It could just as easily have been a recording of a bar on a Friday night, but when you frame the content differently, say, as being the sounds of millions of people screaming in pain and everlasting suffering, well… I guess that’s when your imagination disarms you. That sound clip has always stayed with me, as an artist and as an average Joe. As an artist it taught me a lot about framing and storytelling. As a person, it taught me humility. As it still remains, I do not believe in heaven or hell, but I am madly in love with both concepts.
In college I met a dear friend and fellow artist who became a long time collaborator and idea man. Matt Reed — an actor, writer, director, and all-around generative artist — and I began a conversation about this story. He took the lead about how it should look, how it should feel, how and why it would be challenging, fun, and chilling. He had intentions of writing a play around this idea. I have, for a long time, dreamed about this story and couldn’t wait for Matt to tell it. However, Matt’s professional acting career took off, leaving him little time to write — while I, in the meantime, was searching for the next audio play I wanted to write. This one kept coming back to me. Matt’s ideas kept haunting me and I found myself exploring ways to tell it effectively without diluting the terror of the original urban legend and the cool, sleek, smart ideas that Matt originated.
Initially I thought I would never find an effective way to tell this story through audio theater. My most challenging goal in this series was to tell it without having a narrator. I wanted it to move like a film without having to explain it like a book. And so, with Matt’s permission, I began drafting versions of how the story might be told. The more I wrote the more I realized I was tapering off the horror story and discovering something far richer: the question of what lies beneath the surface of us all. The secrets we keep and never share. The things we think but do not say. The things we’ve done but do not confess. The secret, inner lives we lead that are never exposed. This exploration sought to maintain the curiosity of the urban legend and the originality of Matt’s adaptation while unfolding this new idea that I was bringing to the table: a story of modern American psychology.
In Episode One, “The Judgment of Cambyses,” we take a look at ourselves and at our secrets, zeroing in on what is the truth. In Episode Two, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” we wrestle with truth. In Episode Three, “Through the Looking Glass,” we either accept our truths or we exorcise them. Either way, there is something larger, beneath the surface of us all, that universally condemns us of our actions or inactions. How we define it is up to us. Hell, for me, is not a place beneath the surface of the earth, but rather perhaps, it is beneath the surface of our skin — and it is how we judge ourselves, it is how we wrestle with ourselves, it is how we reveal ourselves to the rest of the world.
More importantly, I just hope it scares the shit out of you.
A behind-the-scenes look at the recording of Surfacing, Episode 1.
Video by Merlin James Alexandre Salisbury.