Giving them voice 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

November 5, 2005

Everybody’s mics are fine.

Except for Elijah’s.

His whistles, every time he speaks.

It’s that electronic whistle, like a mosquito playing an electric guitar in your ear.

And it follows the eighth grade actor everywhere. It’s there if he’s speaking in a mumble or in his stage voice. And it could be coming from anywhere.

One of these cords. A cell phone, perhaps.

It’s already 4 p.m., 30 minutes past the original start time.

And dress rehearsal for this Hood River Valley High School production of “Seussical” won’t begin until somebody finds that electronic whistle and eliminates it.

That somebody is Tom Wanzek. He is and has been the audio/microphone guy for director Mark Steighner’s many productions.

“I just started doing it,” Wanzek says. “I’ve worked with Steighner since seventh grade doing this.”

Wanzek is working with two other “techies” in this skinny loft overlooking the auditorium and stage.

Leslie Smith’s responsibility is the spotlight. April Winfield’s is the ambient light.

These are the people you never see and never hear, but whose work and dedication allows you to hear and see the work of others.

The whistle in the microphone persists. And Wanzek’s voice is getting desperate.

“Steighner, there’s whistling and I don’t know where it’s coming from,” his voice booms from the loft down to the stage, where Steighner is coordinating the rehearsal.

“Elijah talk!” he says. “Talk Elijah.”

Elijah is wearing Seuss-like clothing, bright greens and yellows and pinks.

He’s alone on the stage, standing in front of an empty auditorium.

He pauses for a moment, trapped by the immediate charge to fill the air with something auditory. Then he begins singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

“Keep going,” Wanzek shouts.

As Elijah ventures into the chorus of that nursery rhyme, Wanzek’s hands search the two control boxes for the culprit.

Each box has scores of knobs and dials – a uniform array of suspects, all with the same face.

Ten minutes later, Elijah is still alone on the stage, but Steighner has deserted it, walked through the auditorium’s aisle, climbed the stairs and opened the door to help Wanzek in his search for the source of the whistle.

“Keep talking Elijah,” Steighner says.

“He’s No. 4 on the board,” Wanzek tells his teacher.

“Keep talking Elijah,” Wanzek says.

By 4:10, Elijah is recounting trivial and somewhat meaningless facts about his family: who his sister is, who his parents are and why he joined theatre. And his monologue has descended into a mumble.

“Elijah,” Steighner commands. “You have to project. Talk in your stage voice.”

And suddenly, at 4:14, the whistle, vanishes.

Elijah vanishes off stage too. And at 4:15, Winfield dims the lights.

A minute later, the stage is flashing with Seussical dancers and singers. The lights are dancing too. Lime. Green. Magenta.

It’s a relationship of inter-dependency. Without the lights and sound the singers and dancers have no stage. Without the singers and dancers, the lights have no purpose.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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