Congratulations to 24-hr Detectives, a radio drama joint released by Cowbay Entertainment and Chengsheng Broadcasting Corp., for winning both the Radio Drama Award and Sound Design Award at the 56th Annual Golden Bell Awards.
24-hr Detectives tells the story of a “private detective”, set in modern-era Taipei City. The cases that occur in the drama illustrate the unique local culture of Taiwan, setting them apart from cases in other countries. Private detectives are not an established profession in Taiwan, but the writer decided to steer away from common “investigation agencies” (commonly hired in Taiwan for investigating extramarital affairs), and finally landed on a story about two normal individuals, conducting extremely unprofessional investigations on trivial day-to-day events. The creative approach of the drama focuses around imagining what absurd incidents might occur on the streets of late-night Taipei, just plausible enough that they could be true. The backdrop is one that the audience can closely relate to and the dialogue avoids over-dramatization, opting for a style of everyday conversation. These commonplace details interlace to create a compelling effect. Most of these cases are based around anecdotes from the playwright’s personal experiences, such as happening upon gang negotiations in a café, or meeting someone special on the metro and feeling curious about that person’s story. This special sense of contrast between the mundane and the peculiar is exactly what this story wishes to explore the most. In contrast to traditional private detective stories, the protagonists of 24-hr Detectives are not burdened by some “mysterious past”, but the story does start from a flashback. We join the male protagonist “Xiao-Er” on his way to the female protagonist “Xiao-Si’s” wedding. As we go over their memories together, we experience how they first met. Both of them are normal people, neither have scarred pasts. They both face the predicament of modern youths: struggling to find a place for themselves in the bustling rhythm of urban life.
In terms of recording, Cowbay enlists a combination of professional voice actors and amateur performers. The objective is to allow the main characters to create an abundant range of theatrical tension, while also maintaining the familiar atmosphere of everyday life, reducing the sense of “acting” as much as possible. In addition, all coversations were recorded with a “simultaneous recording” technique, allowing for the most natural staggering of emotions, and drawing out even more feeling than is explicit in the script, adding to the authenticity of the program.
Due to the frequent changes in space during the drama, sound effects were designed with how to enhance the “sense of picture” provided to the audience in mind. The program uses many special effects alongside live recordings to recreate ambient sounds present in everyday life. The different scenes including: the airport, the streets of Taipei at night, chic cafes and convenience stores are all designed to transport the audience’s auditory senses to the actual location.
Radio Drama Award Judge’s Commentary
The script is exquisitely written. It breaks free from stereotypical radio drama themes and really captivates its audience. The characters are portrayed with depth. Letting characters drive the narrative through flashbacks in lieu of a narrator successfully draws the audience deeper into the story.
Sound Design Award Judge’s Commentary
The drama shows very creative use of the recording pen sound effect. It serves multiple functions, representing the story-teller, the story-recording instrument, and also the medium for scene transition. Voices, music and effects are all crisp and clear, with distances controlled to accommodate dramatic needs, creating a convincing flow of sound.