(Re)Creating The Encounter

by Bryan Reesman
Simon McBurney in The Encounter

It took two sound designers – Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin – to develop the binaural audio landscape for this one-man Broadway show

The Encounter has redefined what a one-man show can be and do on Broadway. The set-up is simple enough. Simon McBurney sits in his London apartment and tells the true story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre, who got lost with a tribe in a remote part of Brazil back in 1969. The stage backdrop looks like a giant recording studio with sound dampening foam lining the back wall, and the aural adventure takes us deep into the head of the narrator and our own imaginations.

A Moment and a Space

by Jacob Coakley
A moment from the musical Hello Again in Marymount Manhattan’s Theresa Lang Theatre.
A moment from the musical Hello Again in Marymount Manhattan’s Theresa Lang Theatre.

How Marymount Manhattan College goes beyond theatre to create better theatre artists

Marymount Manhattan College’s theatre training program offers students options—lots of options. Whether that’s a BFA in Acting, a BA in Theatre Arts, or even a competitive Musical Theatre program, it’s all offered in a structured, hands-on program offering majors experiences in all aspects of production. It’s also located in the center of Manhattan, surrounded by the vibrant history and landscape of one of the world’s leading theatre cities. Kevin Connell, a Professor at Marymount Manhattan and Assistant Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts, spoke to us about what makes Marymount Manhattan special, and how they teach students to find their own artistry. 

Audio Alternatives

by Bryan Reesman
Savion Glover had specific ideas about how the tap needed to sound for Shuffle Along—which called for specific miking techniques.
Savion Glover had specific ideas about how the tap needed to sound for Shuffle Along—which called for specific miking techniques.

Sometimes the basics get you by for miking a musical—other times you have to get creative

Despite the lamentations of old-school fans, the default state of musical theatre is now amplified. Mics on performers and in the pit, and speakers everywhere have become standard. The challenge for sound designers is to find the best way to make things sound natural without the audience noticing. While there are plenty of standard miking techniques that people have used over the years, Stage Directions spoke with veteran designers and engineers about taking a different approach when called for.

Everything Old Is New Again

by Lisa Mulcahy
Krista Apple (standing) playing Gertrude, with Zainab Jah as Hamlet in the Wilma Theatre’s 2015 production of Hamlet.
Krista Apple (standing) playing Gertrude, with Zainab Jah as Hamlet in the Wilma Theatre’s 2015 production of Hamlet.

Great advice to help actors make their own mark on a well-known character

Revivals are more plentiful than ever these days—this season alone, reboots of Falsettos, Miss Saigon and M. Butterfly are about to fill houses all over Broadway. For an actor, putting an original spin on a well-known character in a play revival can be an incredibly daunting challenge. If the character is very well-known—say, Romeo, in your theater company’s umpteenth retelling of the Bard’s tale—you may feel that successfully revamping something so familiar, and in many cases traditionally played in a certain vein, is next to impossible. If the play being revived isn’t exactly a household name, yet still quite revered—say you’ve been cast in a regional production of Next to Normal—your issue may be how to interpret a character uniquely while still retaining some influence from the work of a few actors who have played the role before you (whom you’ve watched with great interest on YouTube, no doubt). Whatever the situation, here are some tools actors can use to feel confident, capable and clear about how to approach the work within the context of the show’s new version! 

Golden Age of Gear

by Jacob Coakley
Golden Age of Gear

Art may be a hammer, but it takes a hammer to make theatre

Before I became an editor, I was an IATSE stagehand—a fact which I am sure makes my stagecraft teachers smack their heads with disbelief. But it’s true. I trained as a sound designer and that’s how I got my membership, but like anyone else trying to work in this industry I took a lot of calls that were outside my preferred field. I did this to prove my worth, my dedication, and yes, to make rent. So I took the calls where I mixed audio, but also calls where I did computer networking, focused lights, framed projection screens, and hung up miles of drapes. 

Hunting for a Summer SM Job

by David J. McGraw
A sample page from a stage manager’s portfolio. You can buy a 10-16 page portfolio at most office supply stores.
A sample page from a stage manager’s portfolio. You can buy a 10-16 page portfolio at most office supply stores.

The best routes to take and the best practices to follow in order to land that summer stage management gig

With the chill of winter in the air, it is hard not to dream about summer: sandy beaches, swimming pools, parades and fireworks… and sitting in darkened theatres for 10 out of 12 tech days! Nothing says summer to a stage manager like summer stock, where we trade our regular theatres for theatres in places where normal people vacation. But these jobs don’t come easily. If you are looking for stage management work this summer, here are some suggestions to improve your view while you are on your 10-minute break.

More Room, More Seats, More Money

by Randi Minetor
in Feature
The Staging Concepts Seating Wagon in Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis moving into place.

Make your theatre more versatile with convertible staging and seating

Few performing arts venues have the luxury of being one thing or the other. A concert hall may also need to present full-scale theatrical productions, and a black box may be an area’s only place to bring solo musicians, small ensembles and lectures with projected slides. School districts know the benefits of housing a “gymnatorium” rather than two or three separate rooms for the cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium.

Paying My Dues

by Jacob Coakley
Stage Directions Editor Jacob Coakley
Stage Directions Editor Jacob Coakley

I haven’t taken a union work call in a long time—but not so long I have forgotten what dues are for

It’s January, which means it’s time for me to pay my annual union dues. I’m a proud member of IATSE Local 720 in Las Vegas, NV. I have been since 2003. I haven’t taken a union work call in approximately eight years now—but I still pay my annual dues. Why? 

Product Hits of AES 2016

by George Petersen
in Feature
The entrance to the 2016 AES show
The entrance to the 2016 AES show

Live Consoles Shine in the City of Angels

From Sept. 29 through Oct. 2, 2016, thousands of audio professionals made the annual trek to the Audio Engineering Society convention. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the more interesting product debuts for live sound. 

See Clearly

by Jacob Coakley
in Feature
A Buyers Guide to foggers and hazers

A Buyers Guide to Foggers and Hazers

From just a light haze to make your lighting pop to Natasha Katz’s ingenious use of fog in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, atmospherics continues to grow and do more than just offering billows of low-lying fog. (Though of course it does that, too, much to the delight of Phantom productions everywhere.) Here’s the latest of what’s on the market.