DRAMA 101, INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE, MODULE 1 – Sound Engineer


[MUSIC]. It’s important to make everything sound
natural. You don’t want to have to think about the
sound. We have to be transparent.
I’m Carin Ford. I’m the sound engineer.
[MUSIC] Mixing a show sometimes is like, it’s almost like playing an instrument.
You know, you, you manipulate all the aspects of the sound to come together in
a way to affect the the feel of the show. You can mix a show in a way to make
people feel a certain way. I mean you can certainly affect their
mood. I mean you can help them feel excited, if
you mix a show properly. In order to help tell the story, you can
effectively control the level of the entire orchestra as well as the actress
on stage. I was always interested in music for as
long as I can remember. Since I was probably about five, I wanted
to play drums. I would get my mother’s knitting, my
grandmother’s knitting needles and my mother’s pots and pans and just start
banging on things. After graduating college in Minnesota,
I’d moved to New York all by myself, didn’t know anybody.
Luckily, I met Lily Tomlin. Through my aunt, my aunt Sonia.
She bought me a ticket for my birthday one year, to go see Lily Tomlin’s show.
And it was the Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.
She said, I understand you’re a sound engineer.
I said, yes. She goes, well why don’t you meet my
sound man, and maybe he can let you sit with him and watch the show.
She introduced me to Bruce Cameron. And he was very gracious to then
introduce me to working in shops in New York and then eventually Lily needed a
sound engineer to do her tour. And he called me up and he says oh, hey
Carin.. Are you interested in doing it?
I said yes. I took the job.
And that was in 1988, and I’ve been working ever since.
As the mixer, for a new show especially, I will go and watch rehearsals.
So that I can just constantly see what’s going on, know the script, take any kind
of notes. You know, before the cast gets on stage.
and then once the cast is on stage we put them in mics.
Once we finally get a chance to do a run through, that’s where I get a chance to
really, you know, practice my show and get used to how the after sound what kind
of voice they have, what kind of EQ. I’ll have to do on them, get used to
their rhythm, get used to what the music is going to do.
And, you know, you’re taking notes from not only the designer but from the
director and from the, of course if it’s a musical, then from the music team.
Everybody wants. Sometimes they’re all on the same page
and sometimes they’re not. So, you have to take all that information
and discern, you know, how to put it all together.
As soon as I come in to work, I come in, turn the power on.
And I basically just put some music on. Check each speaker system.
So you have your vocal speaker system which is separate from the bands speaker
system. I play a couple of sound effects and make
sure that my playback system is working properly.
And then my assistant comes out. He brings the microphones after he’s put
new batteries in. We check the microphones and the system
because I’ve had problems where The computer has gone down, and then I, I
need that time to go back and find out what the problem is.
We’ve had times where mics go bad and I will call on a radio to my assistant and
he will go and grab that actor as soon as they can.
Sometimes if the mic is broken and they’re in a scene with somebody else,
hopefully they can figure out that their mic is broken, and they’ll get closer to
the actor they’re playing opposite. And then I will use that other actor’s
mic as much as I can, in order to pick them up.
[MUSIC] Like on my show, MaChaze/g, there’s a scene at the top of the show
where they, they kick beach balls. Into the audience.
So what we have to deal with is with the fact that these beach balls hit the
equipment. That kind of thing we constantly have to
check and make sure that everything is in place before the show.
I just have to be aware of how the system is behaving.
The weather can, can be a factor. If the air is more humid the house sounds
brighter, everything sounds a little louder and conversely if it’s dry it
sounds a little dull. Then I have to mix the show differently.
I have to be aware of how the actors are feeling sometimes.
If someone is tired generally they will not give you as much energy, therefore
not as much level, not as much sound. So I try to help them out in that
respect, and that means not just pushing them louder, but actually balancing the
orchestra or the band, so my hands are on the faders when I’m mixing a show.
My hands are on the faders all the time. I have to but I use the computer to
assist me queue by queue. You want everyone to hear as well
upstairs and very top of the balcony as well as on the main floor.
If you can still understand and hear what everyone is saying but not be aware that
they’re being amplified, then you’re doing a good job.
We don’t want to be mentioned in the reviews at all.
If you’re not mentioned, it’s great. What I enjoy about being a sound
engineer, especially for theater, is the music, the show itself, and I just feel
blessed that I’m able to do sound, something that I really enjoy and make
money at it. And I can go to work and, and, and just
love it. [MUSIC][MUSIC]

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