Episode Three: Emma & Gabriel
Emma Mantoani roasts Gabriel Urbina.
Co-Producer, Editor, & Host: Tess Cocchio
Co-Producer, Editor, & Sound Designer: Julia Schifini
Theme Music Composer: Emily E. Meo
Graphic/Visual Art Designer: Mandy Corcoran
Creative Consultant: Wil Williams
Find & Support Gabriel Urbina's Work:
Find & Support Emma Mantoani's Work:
All music, other than the theme music, is by Chad Crouch on the Free Music Archive and licensed under a Creative Commons license.
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FULL TRANSCRIPT - EPISODE THREE: EMMA AND GABRIEL
EPISODE THREE: EMMA AND GABRIEL
TESS (as narrator): Welcome to Honey Roast, a wholesome hopepunk podcast where every other week, guest stars “roast” a creator that they love and are inspired by. Together, we’re bringing a little more love and hope in the world and introducing listeners to new creators through sweetness and delight. Major thank you to our Indiegogo Producers who helped make this show a reality: Robert Anderson, Robert Van de Motter, Alex Hensley, Kyle Decker, Richard Kreutz-Landry, Ryan Boelter, Tau Zaman, and Bradley Duesler.
EMMA: I think because he loves to tell stories and he loves to have people fall in love with stories again.
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This is Honey Roast.
EMMA: I could tell right away that the tone was something that I was just going to absolutely fall in love with.
That was really important to me to be welcomed so much.
But I just felt really, really safe listening to that show.
TESS (as narrator): I'm Tess and I'm your host.
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TESS: So, Emma, tell me who you are going to be roasting tonight.
EMMA: I'm going to be roasting probably my first ever person that I really truly loved in audio drama, who is Gabriel Urbina, Gabrielle Urbina makes Wolf 359. He also does other productions under the Kinda Evil Genius... I think it's Kinda Evil Genius Productions with Sarah jacket and Zach Valenti. And I discovered him my freshman year of college, which was about three years ago, I think? I started taking a sound class because I studied film. And my professor talked to us a lot about podcasts, and one day I just went to my podcast app.
And I I listened to Serial I think first and then I was scrolling through the top podcasts and I was like, "Wait a second... What... What is audio drama? Like, that, people just like tell stories over radio and I couldn't, or over podcast, I can just listen to them? Uhhh... And the first one that I found was Wolf 359. And I have like a really vivid memory of walking into my freshman dining hall just like laughing to myself with my headphones. Um, probably looking like someone who is just not in the real world. I think I was listening to the episode where maybe the very first one where Doug steals, Doug Eiffel, steals a tube of toothpaste, the last day of toothpaste, and just laughing to myself in the dining hall.
TESS: Was there any point while listening to Wolf 359 in like the first season or the entire series or within the first episode that you were like, "Oh, oh. This person's work, I'm going to pay attention to."
EMMA: I think it was probably the first episode. I mean, that's what I have memories of listening to and especially with the music, which is made by Alan roadie, their composer. But I could tell right away that the tone was something that I was just going to absolutely fall in love with. It's comedic. I mean, the tone shifts throughout the season as many like first seasons, that tends to happen. But right away, I just knew. The characters are so well-formed, which is something that Gabriel Urbina does so well. All of them are super unique and their dynamic is incredibly compelling. And you get all of that in the first episode even though maybe things get more dramatic later on and things get more developed but you get it from the music and from the sound design and the way he writes the characters, I just... Yeah. And it was like the perfect combination for me and that it was incredibly well done.
TESS (as narrator): Wolf 359 is a radio drama in the tradition of Golden Age of Radio shows. Set on board the U.S.S. Hephaestus space station, the dysfunctional crew deals with daily life-or-death emergencies, while searching for signs of alien life and discovering there might be more to their mission than they thought. Take one part space adventure, add one part character drama, mix in one part absurdist sitcom, and you get Wolf 359. I ask Emma if there’s anything specific that stands out to her from her memory of listening to this incredible show for the first time.
EMMA: I mean, like I said, I was in my... I have a lot of like, specific memories of being a freshman and listening to it. I didn't have that many, like, friends early on, obviously, because it was, you know, my first year of college. I was... I would listen to it in the dining hall, in my bedroom, in my dorm room, with just like walking around New York City, where I go to school. Um, one really specific memory I have is... I struggled with a lot of like, mental health issues, and, I and I still deal with anxiety and depression. And I remember there was one night where I really couldn't sleep. And I was just worried about everything and I... it's really cliche, but I just put my headphones in and I just like, let myself sort of like melt into, like, this image of space that he had created and floating, and listening to Eiffel's voice, and I was like, "Oh, yeah, I feel... I feel a lot safer here."
And... I mean, that's what, like, escapism art is supposed to do for you and it it really was super effective for me. So I was just laying in bed, unable to sleep, it was reaching about like 5:00 a.m. and I felt like the night was never going to end, but I just felt really, really safe listening to that show.
TESS (as narrator): Wolf 359, ironically enough, was also my first audio drama. A good friend of mine had recommended it to me when I was a brand new mom struggling, lacking sleep, and needing something to distract me. She promised me that I would love it with the stipulation that while it would make me laugh and laugh and laugh, it would also make me sob. And it did. But it also gave me that same safe escape that Emma is describing.
TESS: You know, you said you were in your freshman year of college. Was that as Wolf 359 was coming out?
EMMA: Um, I think there was a little bit of backlog? But I think by later on in my, in my first year, I was listening to it as it was coming out. So that was a really neat experience because Gabriel is really, uh, he interacts a lot with his audience. I remember, episodes would come out, and I would listened to them. And then they came out every two weeks, so the middle week, he would do a live tweet of the whole episode. And, um, so I would always listen to it again the second week, and listen to all the things that he had to say about the writing because he's very insightful and knows exactly what he's trying to do with the writing and can always articulate that. So I really admire that.
TESS (as narrator): Emma is the writer for the show The Van, where kids gifted with strange powers have grown up under the thumb of the vicious and intelligent driver of the van, Nova Scotia. 17-year-old Cola's life in the van is shaken up when her older sister Rosaline has disappeared, and she realizes that Nova will stop at nothing to find her. What will happen when she does? And what will happen to Cola, as she nears adulthood, the age when kids in the van seem to slip away?
Gabriel and his work has clearly been significant to Emma, so I asked her how she feels Gabriel's work influences her own work, or if there's anything specific that she admires, takes inspiration from, or tries to emulate.
EMMA: I mean, I think he does characters so well. And, you know, our shows are very different, but they are similar in that they are about a group of characters that have kind of been thrown together and you don't know too much about their past when you first meet them. There might be sinister forces conspiring to keep them where they are. So it was really important to me to create characters that were well-defined and who had a really interesting dynamic and had relationships to each character. And so that was something that I I tried to mimic with his writing. Because I think character... character dynamic between the different people in the story is really important to me and that's something Gabriel does well.
TESS: Why is Gabriel's work so important to you personally, as a writer, as a listener?
EMMA: Yeah. Well, early on when I started listening to the show, I remembered that my professors... I go to... I went to Tisch before I switched Majors. And so at Tisch, they're like, "Oh, you're super important. If you email any, or get in touch with any creator and you tell them you're a Ticsh student, they'll just, they'll let you talk to them." Which is actually... it's mostly true. I found The privilege of going to very expensive art school.
So early on, I was like, what if I just emailed Gabriel and was like, "Maybe do you want to answer a couple of questions about radio?" because this is all I could think about, like these shows that I started listening to. Um, and so I emailed him and I dropped the fact that I was in Tisch and he was like, "Oh! So you're in New York, like I'm in New York too! Let's meet up together and get coffee." So he was the very first person to sort of show me that really welcoming side of podcasting that I've fallen into. And, um, just like unrelated from a show, like, that was really important to me to be welcomed so much into this community and like a really great step. And it was the first time where I had listened to something or consumed media that was really important to me. And I felt like, "Oh, I can do that." And then I talked to the creator, and I was like, "Oh, man, like, I can really do that!" Like, I ... he'd, like... when I met with him, he answered every single one of my questions. He was so kind and welcoming. And I was like, "Wow, I actually can make radio drama if I try." Yeah.
TESS: So what was it like meeting him after like, after that time of listening to Wolf 359 and loving it so much?
EMMA: Uh.... Really great. I mean... I work myself up when I'm going to meet someone that I admire, as I did when I went to PodCon a couple months ago, um, even though I know, like, theoretically, we're all kind of on the same level now. I had written down all these questions. I wanted to be super prepared, and I dressed nicely, even though, I mean we were just getting coffee and I was like, "I'm gonna look really cool. I'm gonna look like a creator." And I met with him, at this coffee shop, and I think we both got tea and I sat at this little table with him. And, um, just right away, something I noticed him, about him was... I was like, "Oh, this man was meant to be a director." I spent a lot of time around directors because I was in film school and I did theatre all my life, but he has this really like commanding presence that's also very friendly.
You want to like ask him questions and talk to him. He moves his hands a lot when he talks and, like he's like, always ready to explain something. He talks very quickly and very loudly. I think my friend... my friend was with me at the time because she was like, "Emma, you can't go meet a strange man in New York by yourself." And so she was sitting in another table, just doing homework. And I guess the lady next door was like, "That man's really loud."
And, I think I laughed afterwards because I was like "Yeah, he is, but like, I think that's just because he was meant to be a director and to be someone who tells stories and uses his voice." So, that's something I noticed about him.
TESS: Have you had an opportunity to meet with him since, like becoming a created yourself as well?
EMMA: Yes. So I, I hadn't met with him for a couple years after that until, uh, every month I go get drinks with a couple people in New York in podcasting, and he is there most of the time. And the first time I got to see him again, he totally remembered who I was. And he was like, "Oh, yeah, I listen to your show. Like, I really like it." And I was like, "Oh? My show? Goodness." And just like, super kind and he, he's exactly how he is... How, you kind of... if you have seen a live stream or something, listen to, or read his tweets on Twitter; He's exactly how he comes off there.
He's very knowledgeable about a lot of things. Like, some people are into Harry Potter or were into Star Wars, but he just knows about like all these different worlds and likes to talk about theatre and music and politics. And he knows a lot of different things. He's very well-rounded. And it was great to see him again. We're like, we... Now whenever I get drinks, he's the person I feel very comfortable talking to. I'm really glad that I got to be friends with him at this point in time.
TESS: That's awesome! Do you feel like in your own work, you can spot the points that you know you were inspired by him?
EMMA: I don't know so much. I don't know if I can pick out moments in my writing, but when I... when I audition people or when I direct, both of which I do for my show, I try to sort of channel his energy that I talked about before? That very, like, confident and friendly manner that he has. Because I think that's really good and the booth to make actors very comfortable and willing to ask questions. He told me when I met with him the very first time I was I asked him about the casting process and he said "All the people that we cast have all been people who asked me questions about the characters" and that stuck with me. So I like to really open to my actors asking me questions. I put them like every email I end up with, like, as always ask me any questions you want. And they, they really do. So I try to, I think moments of his writing sort of rub off on my writing, but really, where the important part comes in is, I think I try to be a lot like him when I direct.
TESS: How do you think his work inspires the community?
EMMA: I think more than most people I know, he has a really deep love of storytelling and stories. Like you can just see that when you talk to him about nearly anything. He loves to tell stories just about regular life. I like to listen to him talk because when he tells a story it's like, it's like this whole ordeal. There's like comedic timing and he like defines all the characters in the story and puts things out step-by-step. And that comes across in his work as well. He just has a love of plot and character and how those things come together. And him and Sarah Shachat I love to hear them talk about storytelling, because he has such an understanding of how to make it effective, and how to... the things I learned in script writing class. But he really breaks it down.
And he talks about character development and how to map that out. And it just comes from a love of stories, which is I think, where most of us began to create, when we were really little like making up plays and writing stories. And he keeps that that feeling of escaping into stories that everyone has when they're little and puts it into his work that he has now.
TESS (as narrator): Not only was Gabriel a writer for Wolf 359 and created this incredible world for us to escape and play in, but he’s one of the three partners of Fear of Public Shame’s Audio Fiction 101 course, which focuses on the strategies and innovation of storytelling.
TESS: Why is his work so important to, you know, listeners and creators alike?
EMMA: I mean, so I get into an argument with my roommate all the time about escapism. And she is of the opinion that we should be really careful with escapism, because it's, it's hard to, to make stories that that are just about being able to escape into a world and enjoy what's going on there. And I understand where she's coming from. She wants things to grapple with the world and make us question things and Gabriel's work does do that. But some, what he does that's really important to me, and I think to a lot of other people, is he creates these fantastical worlds that are fun. And... and they do have conflict, they have conflict, and they have consequences to characters actions. But they're really there, I think, because he loves to tell stories, and he loves to have people fall in love with stories again, and fall in love with the characters that he's created.
Like, a moment that was really important to me was I had to take a year off of school for mental health issues. And I remember I was at a treatment center at one point I was really upset. I just didn't feel like anxious the whole week and I didn't really know what to do. But I had my phone with me and I had my headphones with me. And there was one episode of Wolf 359 and that just came out and it was a really dark episode. It was an episode that had a lot of violence and conflict. But even so, when I put my headphones on, and I listened to the story, it just, it took me... It gave me a little breathing room for the day and it made it okay for me to feel something that wasn't my own worries. And I think that's something that sometimes we lose in storytelling now is this importance of escapism, and that's the reason that I got into film and theater in the first place. Because yeah, we're dealing with big issues and Gabriel certainly does that but also, we're looking for like a little bit of hope, and a little bit of happiness amidst what we have going on right now.
TESS: Yeah, I like that. Thank you for sharing that. That's a very personal story. I appreciate it.
TESS: If you were to tell Gabriel what he means to you, what would you say?
EMMA: I guess you reinvigorate my passion for storytelling, and you give me moments where I feel safe and okay because of stories. And that's something that's really important to me and has given me moments of happiness in places where I was feeling a lot of darkness.
TESS (as narrator): I had to cut out more than a few moments of silence as I edited this, as Emma had me on the verge of tears. Her words rang true with me and echoed through my own heart. After these few moments, I finally took a deep breath of appreciation, and asked her if there’s anything else she wants to add about Gabriel or Wolf 359.
EMMA: I just hope that Gabriel Urbina and the whole cast of Wolf 359 and the creators take a nap at some point. They do so much work. And they need to go to sleep.
TESS: It's true.
TESS (as narrator): Gabriel Urbina is a Costa Rican-American writer and director. He’s probably best known for Wolf 359, or maybe you’ve seen the Audio Fiction 101 course on your social media feeds lately, but you will not go wrong exploring his work and experiencing his talent. I recently did a full re-listen of Wolf 359, and there were things that I caught that I didn’t the first go-round, and it was exciting paying more attention to the details of the show, especially knowing how everything plays out. You can find more of Gabriel’s work at gabrielurbina.com. That’s G-A-B-R-I-E-L-U-R-B-I-N-A dot com. Links to his site, Wolf 359, and Fear of Public Shame’s Audio Fiction 101 course will be in the shownotes.
And now… of course, it’s time for the Reverse Roast! Emma Mantoani. As soon as Emma agreed to be a guest on the show, I was so excited, because The Van had been hyped to me quite a bit, and it had been sitting in my podcatcher ready to listen. The Van captured me so easily with the first episode. I listened to the entirety of the six released episodes in exactly two days as I drove to and from work, which was fitting considering the setting of the show. I wanted to get to know every single character, and Emma gives you just enough opportunity to do so.
The writing is beautifully poetic, and almost lyrical. Not only is Emma extremely talented, but they are just such a kindhearted and lovely person to interact with. I’m lucky enough to interact with them on a semi-regular basis online, and I can only say amazing things about them. They are such a talented member of the Audio Drama/Fiction community and we are so lucky to have their work to fall hopelessly in love with. Emma - thank you so much for being you and for sharing your stories with the world.
Gabriel - thank you for inspiring Emma, for inspiring me, and for sharing your knowledge, love, stories, and gifts with all of us. You and Emma, both of you… you’re amazing.
Cheers and Sweetness.
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Honey Roast is co-produced by Tess Cocchio and Julia Schifini, edited by Tess Cocchio and Julia Schifini, with sound design by Julia Schifini. Special thanks to our creative consultant, Wil Williams. Our visual design and art assets are by Mandy Corcoran and our theme music is composed by Emily E. Meo.
All music from this episode, apart from the theme music, is by Chad Crouch on the Free Music Archive and licensed under a Creative Commons license. Link in the shownotes.
You can follow us on twitter @HoneyRoastPod. Transcripts for every episode can be found on our website, honeyroastpod.com. For even more Honey Roast love, check out our Patreon. By becoming a Patron, you get access to bonus episodes, detailed show notes, exclusive merch, and so much more! For more details go to patreon.com/honeyroast. If you can’t support us financially, another fantastic way to help the show and spread the love is to recommend the show to a friend or family member. We can only grow by sharing and caring!
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