Sound Conversations at USITT 2018

Michael Eddy

At the 2018 USITT Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Stage Directions and USITT hosted the Stage Directions Studio on the show floor. Over the three days we spoke with a wide variety of theater artisans, designers, technicians, and practitioners about their thoughts and advice on an array of topics in their respective theatrical disciplines. This month we are including some of the thoughts of two of the sound designers we sat down with during the show. They shared with us their mentors, technology, and also offered their humble advice to those starting out in a life in theatrical design. We thank them for generously share their experiences and thoughts with SD. Here are Jonathan Deans and Steve Canyon Kennedy in their own words:

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Words, Words, Words

Jay Duckworth

Speaking at Maine State Music Theatre this summer, I was asked what my design process was. I said, ‘First off, read the script.’ Holy Cow, I can’t believe the number of people that I’ve worked with that just skim it over to look for ‘he hands him a hammer’. What if the actor must hit someone on the head with that hammer? 

The first time I worked with playwright Arthur Laurents he told me, ‘If you have any questions, look back into the script, and it will tell you everything.’ When I go through a script for the first time, I hit everything that is a prop with a yellow highlighter; everything that is a perishable with a red highlighter, and situational information (year, season, holidays, before and after, financial situation, day of the week, and weather trends) with a blue highlighter. 

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A Career in Consoles, Catching up with Anne Valentino

Michael Eddy

To say Anne Valentino has been influential in the development of lighting control consoles in our industry would be an understatement. She has been involved in the development of some of the industry’s most defining lighting control products. Most recognized for her work and guidance in the development of ETC’s family of consoles, who she began working with in 1990, Valentino has also worked with Kliegl Bros, Strand, Vari-Lite, and PRG, during her nearly 30-year career. If you have run a lighting console from any of these manufacturers, odds are insanely good that Valentino’s work was an important part of that board. Currently, she is the Eos Product Manager with ETC and is involved with console development from inception through development, and then taking it to the market. Many lighting designers and programmers have worked with, given feedback to, and been trained on the consoles by Valentino at tradeshows and training sessions all over the world. Her contributions to the industry have been deservedly recognized as well. She received the prestigious Gottelier Award in 2016 and in 2018 USITT honored her with the Lighting Design & Technology Distinguished Achievement Award. While at USITT, Stage Directions caught up with Valentino to talk a bit about her career.

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Sound Designer Scott Lehrer on his Audio Choices for Carousel on Broadway

Stage Directions

The 2018 revival of Carousel, which started previews in February, just finished up its Broadway run at the Imperial Theatre in NYC. Rogers and Hammerstein’s 1945 classic was revived with a fully digital sound design by Scott Lehrer, whose design was nominated for a Tony Award.

There’s a lot of music in Carousel, from “If I Loved You” to the vocal challenge of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, with 34 actors on stage and a fully acoustic—no electronic instruments—orchestra of 26. Sound design for the musical played a crucial role and was made possible by Lehrer’s technical expertise. Lehrer’s associate sound designer was Alex Neumann and the A1 for the show was Carin Ford.

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Shadows in the Dark

Jay Duckworth

Superstitions in the Theater
If I am ever home alone and just feeling a little lonely, I put on a scary movie and about 30 minutes later I am pretty much convinced that there is someone in the house with me. My friend’s cabin in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey has a ghost called Hazel Grunzel, the first owner of the cabin. It’s strange how we always shut more doors than any of us open! Theaters are no different; almost every theater I have worked at has a ghost or two.

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Shaking the Tree

Lisa Mulcahy

Reflections on Writing My Eighth Book
I remember my first days at Brandeis University, when I entered the school’s wonderful theater arts program as a freshman. It felt magical and special to walk into the vast Spingold Theater and imagine myself performing on its stage (which I started doing soon after, loving every minute of it). As my years at Brandeis happily progressed, I learned EVERYTHING—every aspect of top-notch theater study and practice was available right in front of me. I studied acting with the late, great Ted Kazanoff and playwrighting with the incredible Edward Albee, sang and performed many classic musical theater roles, worked as a production sound designer, studied theater history (which I found fascinating), and completed my honors thesis in directing. I learned the practical skills that made me tough enough to survive as an actress in Boston theater right after graduation, and honed the chutzpah I needed to direct, produce, and teach professionally in Boston and New York, too. 

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Reflections and Respect - A note from the Editor

Michael Eddy

Fall always makes me a bit reflective, assessing where things are at as they start to get back underway from the ‘lazy days’ of summer (a term coined by someone who has never done summer stock, obviously!). I was recently thinking about the fact that SD is 30 years old this year, which is almost as long as I’ve been married and five years younger than my professional career in theater. Things have changed over the past three decades, yet much has stayed the same. One of the things that I love about theater is that we have our traditions, our seasons, a shared way of working; yet we adapt and change over time. As technologies are created to improve our lives, much of what we do in theater is still created in similar manners and methods, just with better tools and processes. 

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The Confident Craftswoman

Lisa Mulcahy

Makeup Artist and Wig Specialist Tara Cooper
Tara Cooper has always believed in herself as an artist, and it’s carried her far. The Texas-based makeup artist and wig specialist’s credits are highly diverse, and her collaborators impressive. She is also an adjunct faculty member at St. Edwards University. Cooper has worked at scores of respected regional theatres, including Austin Shakespeare, The Vortex, TexARTS, the Palindrome Theatre, and the Zach Scott Theatre. Her show credits include Book of Grace, Metamorphoses, The Way of the World, One Night with Janis, Antigone, Carousel, Tuesdays with Morrie, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? On the Verge, The Crucible, Peer Gynt, Tartuffe, Cloud 9, City of Angels, On the Town, Measure for Measure and Romeo and Juliet. She’s also worked on local crews for touring productions like The Lion King, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mamma Mia!, and Wicked.

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Del Hughes Lifetime Achievement Awards

Stage Directions

On Monday, September 17, 2018, the Stage Managers’ Association (SMA) will present its annual Del Hughes Lifetime Achievement in the Art of Stage Management Awards to three stage managers from the worlds of Broadway, regional theatre, and dance: Roy Harris, Lyle Raper, and Maxine Glorsky. In addition to the three Lifetime Achievement Awards, the SMA will recognize Peter Sargent of Webster University with a special award for Achievement in Stage Management Education for his work as an educator. 

Considered the crowning achievement in a stage manager’s career, the Del Hughes Award is awarded to those who represent the finest qualities of stage management: patience, diplomacy, organization, and a sense of humor. The awards were named for Del Hughes, who had an illustrious career as a Broadway and television stage manager as well as a TV director from 1933 to the 1970’s. 

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