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  • hayleyjgrogan

'Much Ado about Nothing' - January 2021

For my second allocation of third year, I was the Sound Designer on the Shakespeare, 'Much Ado about Nothing' which was set to be performed in RS2. I went on a very different journey throughout this show regarding communication and collaboration, mainly to do with the added challenge of COVID-19.

Communications with the Director:

The first half of the rehearsal period for 'Much Ado' was much the same as any show, in that I was able to regularly attend the rehearsals in person. This is because I was pro-active in communicating with the DSM in order to secure myself a place in the room, as rooms have strict occupancy measures in order to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. I ensured that I emailed the DSM at the beginning of every week to express my interest in being in the rehearsal room as much as she could fit me in, then subsequently emailed her before lunch time each day (unless I was in the rehearsal room, so I could speak to her in person), so that I could be included, if there was room for me, on the next day's call sheet. If I could not attend the rehearsals in person, I made sure to attend via Zoom video link.

Whilst in the rehearsal room, I would regularly communicate and collaborate with the Director, from making and taking suggestions as to how sound could contribute and enhance the performance, to utilising lunch times to have short meetings to discuss the progress of the sound design, and run any ideas by her. This would be followed up via email chain, and any sound effects I produced would be sent to the Director via WeTransfer in order to receive her input. I had made available to the Director all of the kit which we would need in order to have sound played in the rehearsal room, but she didn't feel immediate need for this throughout her process, and preferred to listen to sounds with myself during our small informal meetings. I would also pay close attention to the rehearsal notes, to make sure I hadn't missed any notes.

After the Winter break, our process of communication changed slightly, in that I was now only attending rehearsals via Zoom, due to the pandemic. Despite this, I was still maintaining regular contact with the Director via email and through meetings on the breaks of the Zoom rehearsal calls. I feel that the collaboration and communication between the Director and myself was conducted professionally and flowed well. I feel that this was a key aspect of being able to not only bring the Director's ideas to life, but also complement and enhance the show with my own Sound Design ideas.

Communications with the Sound Team:

My first communication with members of the Sound Team was with the Production Sound Engineer. I started off by arranging a Teams meeting after attending the Whitecard Meeting, in order for us to discuss our initial ideas and thoughts, as well as talk through any challenges we perceived. We then went on to maintain regular contact through the use of emails and the Teams chat function. We also ensured that we could reference each other's paperwork by adding it to the Teams folder. I feel that myself and the Production Sound Engineer maintained a good line of communication throughout the show process, which allowed us to collaborate successfully. We both shared our knowledge and were open to each other's ideas, which meant we could both learn from each other and be proactive in our roles.

After Christmas, the first year students joined our team. We welcomed them with an initial Sound Team meeting for the show, in which we informed them of who we were, and what to expect throughout their allocation. The PSE then went on to produce a team schedule, which would communicate to the first years when they would be needed in the venue. We had regular catch-up meetings throughout the process, and also encouraged the first years to attend as many rehearsals and run-throughs as possible via Zoom.

When I found out that we were no longer going to be working in the building for the show due to the pandemic, I scheduled a meeting with myself and the rest of the sound team, as one of the first years had some questions about the Sound Team's process on a show from start to finish. We had a Zoom call, in which myself and the PSE spoke about our roles and what part they played through each part of the production process. We then went on to talk about the paperwork and files we created for the show, and answered any questions the first years had. I feel that keeping an open line of communication with the first years on our team meant that they felt comfortable to ask us questions, meaning that they hopefully came away with a better understanding of the roles within the Sound Department.

Communications with Other Departments:

I feel that for the most part of the production process, I was able to maintain a clear line of communication with the other departments, through both email, and our regular Production meetings. One place however where I feel this slipped, was when I found out at the Sharing, that our Sound Plan was different to the main TSD plan. From my understanding, the plan we had was the correct version, but we had been awaiting confirmation of where the FoH truss would be hung, as it was dependent on the rigging points in the room, and wasn't finalised until the day which it was fitted up. This lead to confusion on my part, as I wasn't aware that the plan I was using wasn't the final version. In future, I will clear this up by learning how to use the synchronise feature which Christoph talked about during the sharing. I will also seek to further improve my Vectorworks knowledge, as I am confident to use it to create a sound plan, but don't yet feel confident enough to edit the main plan shared by the whole production team.

Communications with the Broadcast Engineer:

My communication with the Broadcast Engineer started fairly late within the production process, as this was when he was brought in for the show. We were firstly in contact via email, before myself and the PSE had a Zoom meeting with him to bring him up to speed on the work we had done so far. I feel that overall, myself and the Broadcast Engineer had an okay line of communication and collaboration, although there were a few hiccups along the way.

The first issue which I encountered was in initially sharing my work with him. I had been informed that he had access to Teams, which he had, but he was unable to download any of the files from Teams, meaning he didn't have full access to the Qlab file.

The other issue I had was that there was a delay at a late stage in the process, in the Director getting back to me. This had a knock-on effect on the Broadcast Engineer, as I could not send him the work I was meant to send, at the point which I had stated he would receive it. This would not have been as issue, however I was stressed at the prospect of not meeting the set deadlines, and so I failed to update him on the issues at hand, leading to a failure in the communication and collaboration. After a meeting with my lecturer in which we discussed the situation and where I had gone wrong, I rectified the situation by ensuring that the rest of my communications and collaboration with the Broadcast Engineer were of a professional and timely fashion. I have definitely learned from this experience about my own stress level and will ensure that I don't let it negatively affect a show process in the future.

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