Audio design for theatrical purposes

Audio for the live theatre has usually been limited to “dead cues:” unalterable cues that the actor must respond to rather than the cue responding to the actor. Thus, the element most characteristic of theatre-- real time-- is removed. Lighting can be altered from performance to performance; audio, for the most part, cannot. It is the premise of this thesis that sound is capable of being a major expressive element in theatre, like lighting and scenery. There are two major reasons why audio in the theatre has not fulfilled its capabilities: one, is the poor audio technology that exists in most theatres today, and two, the reluctance of theatre people to experiment with the new technology. Where then is the audio technology? In the recording industry millions of dollars worth of highly advanced equipment exists, with new equipment in constant development. From the premise that sound can be a major expressive element in theatre, and that the technology to create it is available in the recording industry, a sound symposium was developed to explore this relationship. The sound symposium had as its goal the interfacing of two groups of people: people from the audio industry who have developed and learned to use the equipment and people from the theatre who are, as a group, almost unaware of the equipment's existence and potentialities. To this end, an array of equipment was assembled with the intent of interfacing it into the theatrical environment. Sound problems in Rhinoceros were chosen to give the technology a theatrical context in which to work. Rhinoceros was chosen for two reasons: it requires a wide variety of sounds and performances were scheduled shortly after the symposium ended (an ideal opportunity to apply the technology to an actual production). Several specific sound problems were extracted from, the play and solutions presented to the symposium audiences. After the symposium, sound design for the actual production of Rhinoceros continued, utilizing findings developed from the symposium. (See more in text.)