The White Snake is an adaptation of a Chinese fable, written by Mary Zimmerman. This was the first show in Center Stage's newly-renovated Head Theater. I was really excited to be a part of this project, which had a few challenges.
Center Stage was just wrapping up a massive, multi-year full-building renovation when we began production on The White Snake, so there were all sorts of exciting realizations, the kinds that come from a new installation - incorrect smoke alarms being set off by hazers was one of the more memorable ones. The new building came with a brand-new sound system, designed by the good folks at d&b. But, as the theater itself was brand-new, there was much to learn in terms of speaker placement ("well, we can't actually put a speaker there because of that house light...") and plugging things in ("hmm, we plugged it in, why don't we hear it?") but all our obstacles were eventually overcome, thanks to a great sound crew.
I joked during production that my sound design was more "curatorial" than technical on this show. With all the sound being created by the four-piece on-stage band, and minimal amplification of the band and cast, my job was about making sure the actors and the band weren't fighting each other to be heard. Often it was just a question of volume - playing a section or instrument louder or softer - but other times it was about ensuring that the instrumentation didn't "step" on the vocals. I worked with the music director, Jeff Song, and the rest of the band closely, listening for instrumentation that might exist at the same frequencies as the voices in the show. I also worked alongside the actors, helping them to figure out what delivery worked best for the acoustic environment of the room. Occasionally it was also a question of how to interlock the dialog so that each line we needed to hear was in the clear, and not just a jumble of words coming from the actors on the stage.
I really enjoyed working at Center Stage, I hope I get to return!