The Callboard: The Sound of Shakespeare

by Stage Directions

For more than a decade, Diablo Sound has provided stirring sound designs for many of Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ (SCLA) critically acclaimed productions. Working with SCLA since 2006, when the newly formed Diablo Sound, led by president and principal designer Drew Dalzell, designed sound for Two Gentlemen of Verona at the outdoor LA Cathedral Plaza. That relationship continued with SCLA's recent production of Henry IV.

Diablo Sound has designed the sound and provided the sound equipment for numerous productions produced by SCLA in multiple spaces, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the aforementioned Two Gentlemen of Verona at the LA Cathedral Plaza, a second production of Midsummer as well as Romeo & Juliet at the Japanese Garden on the West Los Angeles VA Campus, and a Macbeth-themed haunted house in SCLA’s downtown headquarters.

“In the beginning, it was a very big deal,” states Dalzell. “Shakespeare Center Los Angeles was one of our very first clients. We provided them with sound equipment to reinforce vocals, and at that time, it was all the equipment we had. Now, it’s just a tiny part of our offering. We also provide sound equipment rentals in the Los Angeles area and have a small recording studio on site, but we have a special place in our heart for SCLA.”

Both companies have grown in the intervening years, as has their professional relationship. This year, Diablo designed SCLA’s highly-publicized outdoor production of Henry IV in an entirely built from the ground up venue on the West Los Angeles VA Campus in the Japanese Garden. Under the artistic direction of Ben Donenberg, SCLA’s founder and executive artistic director, Henry IV was staged by Tony Award-winning director Daniel Sullivan with a world-class cast that included Tom Hanks as Falstaff, Hamish Linklater as Hal (Prince Henry), and Joe Morton as Henry IV. Tom Ware was the executive producer.

“Drew’s work has been invaluable to our ability to present our shows in site specific and outdoor venues,” says Donenberg. “There is nothing more important in Shakespeare than to be able to hear the language, and there is nothing more challenging than supporting sound outdoors. I know those things will be successful with Drew’s expertise.”

For Henry IV, Diablo provided the complete PA system needed to support the sound design of the production. “Our mixing console was an Allen & Heath SQ6,” Dalzell explains. “It was our first time using the new console on a theatrical production, and it worked beautifully. We took advantage of the digital mixer’s impressive Automatic Mic Mixing to manage mic levels on the fly.” The sound design also incorporated QSC K Series speakers, Shure ULX-D wireless microphones, and 8-channels of wireless Clear-Com for crew communication.

“Supporting the Shakespeare Center is truly a labor of love for us,” states Dalzell. “I value the collaborative relationship we’ve created, and I look forward to many diverse, thought-provoking productions to come.”

For over 30 years, Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles has worked to enrich and nurture personal growth, professional development and social change through engaging and accessible arts experiences inspired by Shakespeare’s plays and poetry, with a special focus on empowering underserved youth and veterans. For more information on SCLA, go to