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!
So, I’ve been meaning to update this puppy for a while, but i’ve been woefully/thankfully busy actually WORKING for the past year or so! But here’s a little of where I’ve been and where I am.
Since my last blog post, I…
(TL;DR? Just skip the internal bullet points)
-left Dallas after a great show run of Les Mis to take an apprenticeship in Audio at Goodspeed Musicals.
- while there, I served as a wireless mic technician on a new musical called “The Circus in Winter”. There were about 16 channels of RF in many different flavors, everything from Sennheiser’s older SK2012s up through the 5212, so managing all the different frequency ranges and connectors was quite the challenge!
- After my A2 gig, I actually wound up staying on at Goodspeed to take over as the mixer on their mainstage musical, “Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn!” It was a wonderful experience and opportunity, and a unique one, since it was my first time taking over for someone on a show. I learned about the challenges of the mix, but also about how to behave and make people comfortable, in order to make the technical and personal transition 100% smooth. I’m proud to say I think at least one person didn’t know the original person had left and I took over! And I can’t wait for New York audiences to get to see this gem of a show when it hits Broadway next fall. I’m proud to have earned my first professional mixing credit working on this show.
-While at Goodspeed, I picked up a great “weekend gig” working at American Repertory Theatre’s Club Oberon
- Oberon is a fantastic amazing space where gigs can last any time from one performance to a full week. It’s a huge lesson in being adaptable, flexible, and REALLYFREAKINGFAST. My first week there, we put up a college theatre production of “Assassins” with 13 pieces onstage. We did two shows, STRUCK the entire thing (set included!) in order to allow their resident Saturday night show, “The Donkey Show” to happen, then RELOAD the whole thing back in for two shows the next day. No time for confusion, inconsistency, or attitude. Good time.
Ok, at this point in my timeline it’s January, and so far this year I have continued to build my relationships with these two theatres, where I still work regularly, as well as supplementing with work at Yale Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, Mohegan Sun Casino, and The Dalton School in NYC. I’ll detail that stuff in my next post and in the Portfolio section of my website! Thanks for reading!
C’mon Becca, let’s have all the news!
(Because it’s been a while since I’ve done this.)
Anyway, as the first few lines would suggest, I’ve been hard at work all summer as a mic technician (or “A3”) on the new production of “Les Misérables” currently playing at Dallas Theater Center. I’ve been having a great time getting to know a new city, getting good at driving (who knew this New York girl had it in her!), and learning what it takes to do this whole Deck Sound/A2/Mic Tech thing. While I’ve worked on musicals before in various capacities, it’s my first time being “on the floor” as a member of the Sound department, and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it! The most important things I’ve learned, I think, are mostly reinforced lessons from past shows, but I’ll repeat them nonetheless, maybe just to ingrain them into my own head more!
1. Sometimes the most useful thing you can do is GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY.
2. (converse of 1) Only exist when you need to. Be a ninja.
3. Learn your people, ESPECIALLY if you’re new in a place where everyone already knows each other. Feel out your place, and don’t get discouraged if it takes a little while.
4. Tensions are going to be high enough without your help. So don’t help it! Get good at “microphone clinical” and people will do whatever they can to help you solve the problem at hand.
5. WARDROBE ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS AND ALLIES. Respect them and their show needs as you try to solve yours.
Most of this is average “first professional gig” stuff, but I think the more I’ve been able to take it to heart, the more I’m on my way to becoming a really good A2, and eventually earning enough stripes to become an A1!
And, speaking of becoming a really good A2, I’m going to get a chance to do just that on my next gig! I’ll be heading back up north in September to be the first ever Audio Apprentice at Goodspeed Musicals, serving primarily as the A2 on their production of The Circus in Winter. I can’t wait to get started.
As far as portfolio fodder for this show goes, I wasn’t heavily involved in paperwork or load-in, but I’ll post a PDF of the index cards I made for my “track.” Click the Portfolio section if you’d like to see!
More news soon as I attempt to catch up on posting work from other projects 🙂
of the end! I’m writing this as I head into my final three weeks of undergraduate schooling at the amazing Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. There is plenty still left to do: I’m stage managing a production of The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney (details here!), finishing up some interesting class projects, and of course, looking for jobs and wondering what’s next! After those three weeks there’s a class trip to Los Angeles to showcase my work and meet with industry professionals, a big party to celebrate CMU Drama’s Centennial year, one more end-of-semester critique, and of course, GRADUATION! It should be an exciting time, and I’m going to head into it with my game face on. Look for more updates here as things progress!
(photo credit: the bygone beyonceinamerica.tumblr.com)