Jasper: You're involved with One Book, One Community's 2016 selection, The Stone Necklace by Carla Damron, in a couple ways, right? I know you created the audio version of the book - what was that like?
VSH: Partnering with the USC Press team, Carla, and Ron Whitten at the SC State Library has been incredibly rewarding and a great joy. I feel so fortunate to have been invited to participate. This was a completely different way of exploring a narrative for me compared to simply reading a novel or preparing text for stage. It challenged me to prepare differently and stay in touch with the tempo, tone, and pulse of the story and its characters.
Jasper: Was this the first book you've recorded?
VSH: Yes, this was the first audio book I've done. In preparing for the audition taping, I asked the Richland Library staff to assist me in pulling some award-winning high quality audio books, I took them home and studied them. I noted and considered what seemed distinctive regarding the narrator's choices for voicing the text, and employed some of those things in both my audition and ultimately our recording of the book. Luckily, those things seemed to work!
Jasper: Tell us about the process. How long did it take?
VSH: A week before we started recording, I met with Carla to talk about the book, its characters, her writing process, and more. We then began recording in mid-October.Typically, we would record for 2-3 hours a session twice a week. Ron Whitten (recording director) and I found that we made for a great team. His years of experience and knowledge got me quickly acquainted to this new medium, and our intuitive combined ear for keeping the quality consistent kept us on target. We logged over 40 hours in the recording studio. Jonathan, Carla and other key staff came by during sessions to listen in and were consulted during our process. It was a highly collaborative experience.
Jasper: Have any of your friends or family listened to your recording and, if so, what did they have to say about it?
VSH: Yes, Jim Dukes listened to some early parts of the first few chapters. What he said was interesting to me---that he could very distinctly see in his mind's eye all the colors and textures of the story in ways that just reading a book had not afforded him in the past.
Jasper: Is it something you'd like to do again?
VSH: Absolutely! I loved doing it. I really like the team of people I've come to know, I grew as a performing artist, and I found and added a totally new means of being a storyteller.
Jasper: Now, can you tell us about the improv event you'll be conducting for The Stone Necklace on Tuesday, February 11th at 7 pm at Tapp's Arts Center?
VSH: I've heard it said that two ways we can create more empathy in our lives are to read more novels and take an improv class. This event combines both elements! We will be "walking through the halls" of this book and exploring its story lines, characters and settings (the book is set in Columbia, SC) via interactive improvisation techniques. It's not about performance, but rather about becoming co-explorers of story using Carla's existing elements as prompts. A whole new way to appreciate an author's work.
Jasper: How can the public be involved in this and what do they need to do to prepare?
VSH: There's nothing to bring or do to prepare for the event. Come with a curious spirit and willing heart to learn about the book, engage your creativity, see things from a new perspective, and apply your own point of view.
Jasper: How would we benefit from participating?
VSH: It will be a new and more intimate way to meet a story and its creator. People will get to know one another in the room, and hopefully learn a little about the highly versatile medium of improv as a tool for discovery and collaboration.
Jasper: Do we need to have read the book first?
VSH: No prior reading is necessary. An overview of the story will be given and excerpts from the novel will be read.
Jasper: Finally, what's your favorite thing about (or part of) the book The Stone Necklace?
VSH: The two things I appreciate most about this book is the keen, intuitive and seamless way Carla weaves the stories of these seemingly different people into a common tapestry, and her choice to set it in Columbia, SC. I became very emotionally invested in the characters very quickly (especially one character, Joe), grew to appreciate their individual and combined roads of healing, and saw my city through a new lens.
Vicky Saye Henderson is a performer and teaching artist, whose projects include live stage, film, TV, voice-overs and cabaret. On staff at Trustus Theatre, she serves as Director of Education and Professional Development. She is also a member of Trustus' residential performing ensemble, appearing most recently in The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical. She is the recipient of the SC Arts Commission's 2015 Individual Artist Fellowship in Acting and was named the 2013 Jasper Artist of the Year in Theatre. She received her improv training in Orlando, FL (KVG Studios) and is co-director of Trustus' Improv and Sketch Comedy master track Apprentice Company program. Vicky recently provided vocal narration for USC Press' audiobook of Carla Damron's novel, The Stone Necklace.
Come and be introduced to Carla Damron's new novel, The Stone Necklace, in a highly active way! Trustus Theatre Ensemble member and Director of Education, Vicky Saye Henderson will use the versatile medium of improvisation to explore the novel's narrative, its characters and setting, the author's process in fun, unexpected and non-traditional ways using readings, music, audience interaction and more.