Sound Advice

Is it time to make the leap to digital? Here's what you should know.
Is it time to make the leap to digital? Here's what you should know.
Is it time to make the leap to digital? Here's what you should know.

Digital sound consoles have been revolutionizing performance sound for almost 30 years. The first digital desks were primarily designed for recording studio usage, with limited application for live sound’s unique needs. Once digital consoles entered the live market, the first generations focused on larger productions, including commercial tours and sit-down theatrical shows. But manufacturers have recently started to develop digital desks for smaller-scale productions and venues, including small theatres, clubs and even schools. Many such smaller venues are now eyeing a shift from analog into the digital domain. What would a shift into digital mean for a small venue? What benefits would it offer? What risks would it present? This article will explore some of these questions and hopefully help a small venue decide if it’s ready to take the digital plunge.

Read more: Digital Sound Consoles for Small Venues

Training

Christopher Bayes.
Christopher Bayes.
Physical performance artist/teacher Christopher Bayes shares his philosophy and peerless technique

All actors respect the truth that their body is their instrument—but few teachers embody the skill behind this theory more than the Yale School of Drama’s head of physical acting, Christopher Bayes. Bayes has distinguished himself as one of the theatre’s most respected physical performers—he’s worked extensively as a clown as well (teaching at Cirque Du Soleil and the Big Apple Circus, among many other distinguished institutions), directed acclaimed movement-driven pieces and created movement for Broadway’s The 39 Steps. Bayes believes that physical acting is one of the most essential building blocks a theatrical education can be built on. SD talked to him about its role in his creative evolution and what he feels every actor needs to study in terms of physicality.

Read more: Master of Movement

Training

North Farmington Hills production of the musical Carrie had buckets of blood, but it focused more on the social and emotional affects of bullying, as opposed to being a gorefest.
North Farmington Hills production of the musical Carrie had buckets of blood, but it focused more on the social and emotional affects of bullying, as opposed to being a gorefest.
How three schools dealt with administrators stepping in to halt productions

The show must go on? When high school administrators and school board members don’t like the theatre director’s choice … maybe not. 

When a high school production gets cancelled, or is under threat to be, there are two for-sures: the teachers and students are shocked and surprised; and the action tends to draw media attention. SD spoke with three high school theatre directors in such a situation, and while they had three different outcomes, there are common threads to their experience: they all came out of the controversy stronger, wiser and proven correct that talented kids can handle mature, challenging material.

Read more: High School Culture Wars

Feature

Jody Christopherson performs with David Anzuelo (pictured on video, but also performing live) at the Miami Filmgate Interactive Film Festival
Jody Christopherson performs with David Anzuelo (pictured on video, but also performing live) at the Miami Filmgate Interactive Film Festival
Transmedia theatre blurs the line between gaming and theatre, but still makes for sharp stories

Even in this digital age, the idea of marrying transmedia (the process of telling a story across multiple media, e.g., games, video, live experiences) and theatre hasn’t seemed viable or even desirable by many in theatre, who tend to view the traditional playmaking process as practically sacrosanct. Chris Klug, a playwright, video game designer, and professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center believes one of the main roadblocks to the adoption of transmedia in theatre is that the typical “working approach used by playwrights, actors, and other theatre people is to carefully craft over every moment and aspect of their plays,” says Klug. “They’re often reluctant to leave room for the audience to interact with their play or to place crucial plot points in any other medium for the audience to discover or discuss via Twitter, for example.” 

Read more: Expanding Transmedia Theatre

Feature

A moment from the 2013 Idyllwild Arts production of The Boyfriend.
A moment from the 2013 Idyllwild Arts production of The Boyfriend.
Boarding schools aren’t for everyone, but their focus on the arts offer some an opportunity like no other

For the mature, dedicated student, and for the parent who really wants to provide every advantage to their theatre-obsessed child, a high school arts boarding school experience is worthy of consideration. There’s the price, and a few misconceptions (including one about the price), but the advantages are compelling.

Read more: Immersion Program

Feature

A moment from Zombie Strippers at the 2014 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
A moment from Zombie Strippers at the 2014 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Stage managing the manic world of NYMF

Sure, stage managing a show the size of a Broadway musical is daunting, but things can get even more frantic when one tackles a production at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). The vibrant annual three-week event always serves up new and unusual offerings, but the low budget productions have high ambitions, and the venues necessitate plenty of constraints that add an extra level of challenge to them. Various shows share the same stages, are required to have their sets and wardrobe fit in a 4-foot-by-4-foot space backstage or underneath seating platforms, have tight spaces for band performers in the wings, and are given limited tech time, so even the most ardent cast and crew have to keep up the pace and keep their cool in order to make things work.

Read more: Controlled Chaos

Answer Box

The sound design for a deconstructed Antigone needed to build up an environment in an empty warehouse
The sound design for a deconstructed Antigone needed to build up an environment in an empty warehouse
The sound design for a deconstructed Antigone needed to build up an environment in an empty warehouse

In November of 2012, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama’s production of Antigone by Mac Wellman (directed by Caleb Hammond, MFA ’14) inaugurated the use of Studio 201 as our school’s fourth performance space. Until then, the 110-foot-long warehouse had only been used for offsite props and costume storage. It fell to me to create the sound design for this bizarre and beautiful adapation, including a soundscape that allowed the play to be understood as well as a sound system that would let the audience understand the actors—and for that matter, where was the audience going to be, anyway?  

Read more: Spinning Voices

Off the Shelf

Wynn Place Show: A Biased History of the Rollicking Life & Extreme Times of Wynn Handman and the American Place Theatre
Wynn Place Show: A Biased History of the Rollicking Life & Extreme Times of Wynn Handman and the American Place Theatre
History, the future and collaborations in new books this month

Wynn Handman co-founded the influential off-Broadway American Place Theatre in 1963, producing the work of Maria Irene Fornes, Eric Bogosian and Sam Shepard, and featuring actors like Faye Dunaway, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Bill Irwin and Richard Gere. Five decades later, at age 92, he remains the company’s artistic director. His is an important—and fascinating—story, nicely told in Jeremy Gerard’s Wynn Place Show: A Biased History of the Rollicking Life & Extreme Times of Wynn Handman and the American Place Theatre. [Smith & Kraus]

Read more: Mixing It Up

Editor's Note

Jacob Coakley
Jacob Coakley
Schools, scripts, interviews and everywhere else—better art comes from deeper understanding

I just spent a month studying David Mamet. Not officially, and not even by intent. My wife was recently in a production of Mamet’s Boston Marriage and I was drafted to run lines with her. Like all of Mamet’s work the play is combative, dense with emotional shifts and manipulation, and sparse in guidance. All the information you need for the play is contained in the script, but you have to work to ferret it out.

Read more: Education Is Where You Find It

Tools of the Trade

The ADJ VF Series Fog and Snow Machines includes four foggers and a snow machine.
The ADJ VF Series Fog and Snow Machines includes four foggers and a snow machine.
The new VF Series of fog and snow machines from ADJ come in a range of sizes and are designed to be reliable, affordable machines which exceed expectations. Entries in the line include: the VF400, a compact, 400-watt mobile fog machine; the VF1000, a 1000-watt unit with a 1-liter tank that can output up to 8,000 cubic feet per-minute following a heat-up time of six minutes; the VF1300, a 1300-watt fog machine with a 12,000 cubic feet per minute output and just a 7-minute warm-up time and an external 2.3-liter fluid tank; the VF1600 packs 1500-watts of power, heats up in eight-minutes and, with an external fluid tank holding 2.3-liters, has an impressive fog output covering 20,000 cubic feet per minute; the VF Flurry is a highly efficient, 600W Snow Machine with a simulated snow spray distance of 2-5 meters. Video demo after the jump.

Read more: ADJ Launches VF Series Fog and Snow Machines

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