himself again." (Appia 1962, 34) This is the highest purpose of theatre. My old director friend Jim O'Connor used to tell me, "I don't want reality. Who would pay twenty bucks to come and see a day in my life?" even the broadest details that a written description or a visual enactment could easily provide. Along the way, we always discover how difficult it is to understand exactly what sounds mean. Typical observations include: Many sounds are indistinguishable from each other (is that rain or bacon frying?). The Problem with Sonic Scenic Illusion T he plain fact of the matter is that sound is a very poor communicator of intellectual ideas. In one course I teach at Purdue University, the first assignment of the class is called "The Sound Story." The assignment is for the students to record a one-minute story without words. Each student must play his or her sound story for the class and then sit patiently while the class tries to figure out the story for themselves. I count on the exercise to create a great amount of discussion, confusion, disagreement and controversy regarding the simple plot of the story. The class usually finds it impossible to provide 24 W I N T E R 2 0 0 1 TD & T Even audiophile recordings of a sound do not sound "real" when we play them back without any visual reinforcement (try recording yourself actually punching somebody); Many sounds are indistinguishable from each other (is that rain or bacon frying?); Natural sounds lack specificity (that blizzard might say "winter," but is it January or February, and which day?); The acoustic environment of the recording is often incompatible with the acoustic playback environment.