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!
Here is some of my work as Wireless Microphone Technician on Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht. As is my custom, these notes were printed on 3×5 index cards that I kept in my cargo pocket and used in order to reference what my duties were throughout the show.
Some samples of paperwork from my time as a Wireless Microphone Technician at Goodspeed Musicals.
A quick note and story about the 2 RF Schedules: During the run of the show, one of our actresses took ill and since there were no understudies, our stage managers and producers made the difficult decision to cancel a few performances and let her heal. She valiantly powered through after our break, but the production company wound up hiring an alternate to stand by for her. Based on this, and the technology we were using, we had to have a quick way to get everything ready for Actress A or Actress B. In my case, this just meant changing a few labels, getting the correct mic rig set up with her packs, and for my mixer, it meant he had to restore the correct gain and EQ settings. For stage management, it meant helping Actress B with the cut track for this role that she had learned in A DAY. A DAY! For wardrobe, this meant altering the entire costume back and forth between their sizes since there was only one, so I guess we had it easy! But thanks to Janine, the show went on, and everyone did their best to help make the transition smooth.
The run sheet details my pre and post show duties, the track cards are my preferred way of tracking my during show duties, printed on a set of 3×5 index cards on a binder loop (I stole this format from my wardrobe friends) that live in my cargo pocket.
Here is some paperwork from my time as Wireless Microphone Technician on Dallas Theater Center’s production of Les Misérables. Printed on 3×5 index cards for use in show. As you can see, I had both a lot and nothing to do at the same time! Sometimes my job was to switch a mic, sometimes just to be standing somewhere strategically to check someone’s mic placement without their really needing to know that that’s why I was there…you know the drill 🙂