Sound Designer Kate Marvin
Sound Designer Kate Marvin

Sound Demon: In Conversation with Sound Designer Kate Marvin

Howard Sherman

Sound Demon. Sounds like the name of a comic book supervillain. The Sound Demon versus The Incredible Hulk. But sound designer Kate Marvin is one of the few people who can lay claim to having that title bestowed upon her, and not for nefarious, world-subjugating reasons. Post-college, when she said theater wasn’t much on her mind, Marvin worked at Target Margin Theater as assistant director on a workshop of a project about Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan. When the project was complete, she met with director David Herskovits about additional opportunities. Based on her musical skills—Marvin plays an array of instruments including piano, guitar, ukulele, banjo, and mandolin—Herskovits proposed she become the company’s new “sound demon,” following in the footsteps of Target Margin company member, Diana Konopka. “She was running sound for the group in a kind of performative way,” explains Marvin. “She was onstage mixing cues live. David said, ‘You have a sort of musical sensibility, and because it’s so performative and requires good timing and creativity, you should try doing this.’ I took over for Diana as she was transitioning out, moving on to Clubbed Thumb, and I loved it.”

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Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind
Lighting Designer Christopher Akerlind

Creating a Storehouse of Visual Images: In Conversation with LD Christopher Akerlind

Howard Sherman

With hundreds of lighting designs to his credit over the past three decades, and two Tony Awards for lighting design on his shelf (for The Light in the Piazza and Indecent), Christopher Akerlind’s start in the theater was not what one might expect. “I had acted in high school,” Akerlind recalls, “Performance was obviously part of what I was interested in. I loved acting, but when I turned 18, I promptly lost my nerve and could never imagine going out on stage in front of a big group of people again.”

Akerlind enrolled at the University of Connecticut as a music major. “I played the saxophone, the clarinet, and the flute,” he recounts. “I found that whatever I had achieved in high school as a musician was purely intuitive. In other words, I was a lazy musician, but actually a good one. So, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish the music course.” Taking a year off, Akerlind responded to an ad for interns at Hartford Stage, ending up working as a production assistant and, more significantly, sound board operator for the theater’s epic production of The Greeks. The sound for the production was the first professional sound design by David Budries, who became the theater’s resident sound designer and would go on to start the sound design program at the Yale School of Drama.

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Claire Warden, Broadway’s First Credited Intimacy Director
Claire Warden, Broadway’s First Credited Intimacy Director

A Conversation with Claire Warden, The First Broadway Credited Intimacy Director

Howard Sherman

In response to an observation that five years ago she wouldn’t have been having a conversation about intimacy direction, Claire Warden responds, “It didn’t exist five years ago, in this form.”

But intimacy direction has rapidly emerged as a distinct discipline on the creative teams of plays and musicals, and Warden has been at the forefront of that movement. She is the first person to have been credited as the intimacy director of a Broadway show, for Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune with Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon. She’s about to be the second person thusly credited, as Slave Play, first seen at New York Theatre Workshop, moves to Broadway.

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Designer Rachel Hauck
Designer Rachel Hauck

Finding Her Tribe: A Conversation with Rachel Hauck

Howard Sherman

Glance at the current resume of set designer Rachel Hauck and under “Recent Off-Broadway” you’ll find more than 50 productions. Look at “Recent Regional” and you’ll find yet another 50 shows. Under Broadway, no “recent” is required, because Hauck has but three credits, but what impressive credits they are and one ends with a Tony Award. Her first Broadway credit was for John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons. The other two are for productions that have been running simultaneously during much of 2019. One is Heidi Schreck’s What the Constitution Means to Me, for which Hauck created an amalgam of the VFW halls that Schreck frequented in order to compete in essay contests in her teen years. The other is the Tony Award winning Best Musical of 2019, Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown, for which Hauck won the Tony for Best Scenic Design of a Musical. Less than a month after her Tony, Hauck sat down with Stage Directions to talk about her career. This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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