at the Actor's Theatre in Louisville
How do you cram six full length plays, an anthology, and several ten-minutes into a three-day weekend? Blood, sweat, tears, and the right tools for the job.
the past eight years Actors Theatre of Louisville (ATL) has been putting
Stage Research's SFX software to work in both their regular
season, and the Humana Festival of New American Plays. As audio playback
moved away from reel-to-reel, MiniDisc, and samplers towards more flexible
solutions, SFX seemed like the right way to go. The software
was reasonably priced, could run on a standard Windows computer, and most
importantly, was easy to use. Even guest sound designers who had never
used the software before could quickly go from a hard drive full of files
to a programmed show in a matter of hours. Once in technical rehearsal,
changes to the show could be made in a matter of minutes rather than hours.
Desjardins, Sound Designer for Natural Selection and former Resident Sound
Designer at ATL, "I was introduced to SFX eight years
ago during Humana. The creative power and logistical advantages of the software
were immediately apparent to me, and I have used it as an indispensable
and tightly integrated tool in my work in rehearsal, tech, and performance
For the 2004 Humana Festival premiere of Kid-Simple, Director/Designer Darron West used the MIDI implementation in SFX to expand the notion of who's running the show. A foley artist who had previously been creating sound effects live on stage, turns to beating drum pads which in turn send MIDI notes to SFX, triggering sounds effects that replaced words in the actors dialog on stage. This rapid-fire dialog replacement was happening alongside the rest of the soundscape being played back by the sound engineer through SFX, which was also sending MIDI commands to a separate video computer. Effectively two people were running the show on the same SFX computer.
In the 2005 Humana Festival Resident Sound Designer Matt Callahan took SFX to the races. Through a series of actor-driven sequences, Matt ran several horse races around the 600-seat Pamela Brown Auditorium in the play Pure Confidence. It took a lot of finessing to get it right, but once all the straightaways and turns were programmed, we were off to the races.
During the Humana Festival there are times a designer must be absent from rehearsal, often to work on a show rehearsing simultaneously in the next rehearsal hall. The intuitiveness of the SFX user interface allows a designer to train in minutes a stage manger or rehearsal assistant to execute cues while they are away. In addition, the security features also allow you to secure SFX programming from inadvertent changes by unskilled hands.
Theatre doesn't have a sophisticated SFX system. No centralized,
isolated audio network. But SFX makes it possible to
take a collection of audio files into rehearsal, put them together in
collaboration with the design team, move that work seamlessly into the
performance space, and finally finish the presentation off in front of