Continued from before, a quick summary of my first year out of college and the nomad-ing I did for a while.
One big lesson I learned from a colleague up here in CT that I just didn’t know was that nothing happens at certain times of year. I spent an insane amount of time in January and February trying to get work, when at least up here…there just wasn’t that much work to be had. And that’s ok! But I definitely started to go a little stir-crazy. I found a new therapist to vent my frustrations to, since I don’t know that this is something that every industry experiences. It’s like one week you have 50 hours of solid work and then a few weeks later, you just don’t. It can be a lot to manage.
But that now known, other than taking some nice vacation time, I was able to piece together a decent bit of work for the “off-season”. I was an audio technician for Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals, which is a three-day long event full of readings, concerts, panels, cabarets, all of which are in the interest of promoting new musical theatre. I got to mix numerous events, run from space to space in mid-winter as fast as I could, and meet lots of great actors, writers, directors, producers, whatnot.
I also fell into a fun gig that I would never have expected to enjoy – sound designing productions at my old high school! I know, you may laugh…but it has actually been a great time, and a great opportunity. My school back in NY has a nice rep system, so my biggest job was to rent a microphone package (we owned 8 channels of RF that would be swapped from actor to actor during the show by a terrific team of 12-year old A2s), coordinate aforementioned microphone handoff, coordinate the band (5 pieces sitting almost entirely unamplified far away in the balcony) and balance them with the vocals, as well as teaching another terrific 12-year old to mix this monster! Did I mention that this was a middle school production of “Sunday in the Park with George?”
The opportunity also allowed me to do a lot of much-needed maintenance on their system, which was a great learning/doing opportunity. I had all the time I needed to figure this system out, look at the old drawings from when our theatre had been renovated in the early 2000s, did some relabeling, soldering, wiring, patching, and really got things into nice working order. As someone who has never considered system design my “#1 skill”, it was a big undertaking and I’m really proud of my results. There is now a basic system flow of the theatre that the resident TD can use to figure things out while I’m away, and everyone has been walked through the system and its needs. See below!
Another thing one learns when doing school theatre, is that it isn’t always about making it sound good. With a cast of 25 where only the leads and SOME supports will be mic’d at any given time, you will pull your entire head of hair out trying to make it Broadway-quality. Gabi, my mixer, had to go from line-by-line mixing to reminding himself to leave a mic open if it was being used to capture two people while being worn by one, and to make the sound more consistent than just one person on mic and one who isn’t. And anyway, it’s middle school! This is the venue that was my first real exposure to being on a tech crew. I ran a spotlight in this space back in ’04. And really it was about being involved and doing your part. And if every parent in the audience can hear their child and see them get to be involved, whether in a costume or in blacks, then we will have done our job. So that was mine!
Here is my badass middle school mixer Gabi in action! He is on a Presonus StudioLive inside a control booth and it still sounds great 🙂
A map of the school’s 24-channel console in its “Standard” layout