Sound in the theater
Sound in the theater requires the people who practice it to posses such a unique set of skills and talents that makes them both incredibly valuable and rare. Students continue on to careers mixing musicals on Broadway, touring with national and international tours, writing music for shows, designing large scale sound systems for theme parks, or any one of an amazingly varied range of opportunities for sound designers. All of these paths share the common language of sound design.
Studying Sound @ Penn State
In addition to the core theater classes that all of the design students take, sound students also take classes in the science of music, audio recording techniques, live sound, and show control. Students design, engineer, load in, and mix every show that the School of Theater produces, and also work on productions for the School of Music, the College of Arts and Architecture, and even the President of Penn State. Those practical experiences cement
the concepts that come from the classroom, and allow the students to have hands-on professional experiences with the tools and techniques of sound design. Students who study sound design have to be able to synthesize information in the artistic and the technical realms. Musical theater provides one of sound design’s greatest challenges, the amplification of the human voice. It requires so many elements to be executed well: from the sound systems design and installation to the skill of the person moving the faders during the show. There is no secret to the fact that the mixing of musicals requires practical experience.
You simply have to mix musicals in order to learn how to mix a musical. With a top-flight Musical Theater program, and the only Musical Theater Directing and Musical Directing Programs in the country, students at Penn State have multiple musicals each year to hone their skills. However, the favorite project in the School of Theater remains our Haunted House. Borne out of the need for smaller design experiences for a large number of first and second year students, it has grown into a monster event, with a following among the students, and quite a few YouTube videos. While on the surface it may seem like simply a fun project, it teaches the concept core to harnessing thinking for the theater — the ability to creatively problem solve.
About Curtis Craig, Head of Sound Design
Sound Designer & Composer, Media Designer
Professional, practicing sound designer and composer, with work heard and seen at regional theaters across the country. World Stage Design Gold Medal for the Sound Design of Pentecost in Seoul, Korea - also selected to exhibit Gizmo at World Stage Design in Cardiff, Wales. Commissioner of Sound Design for the United States Institute for Technical Theater. Frequent clinician and speaker in the areas of sound design, show control, and the acoustics of the human voice.