The walkway outside of Love.

The walkway outside of Love.

Earlier this year, I applied to be a part of USITT’s Elite Training Program in Las Vegas, NV. The program was for student and early career members to get a chance to go out and train in their areas, as well as shadow at Cirque du Soleil. I was accepted into the sound program and got to train on Meyer Sound’s D’Mitri sound playback system and shadow at Love, Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles show. In addition, we got to go backstage at O, KA, and Zarkana and tour the Cirque facilities. We even got to go high up into the grid on Zarkana, which was one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend (which is weird, because I rarely enjoy going up to the grid in theaters), as they were doing maintenance on some show elements, and we got an up close look at the maintenance work that was being done.

I had never seen a Cirque show before, so it was a great experience to watch Love. I did my shadowing first, because I knew if I watched before I shadowed, I’d be focusing on what I would be doing for shadowing, rather than watching the performance. It was great! First we got to hang back and run microphones for a while, then we got to go inside the sound booth and talk to one of the playback engineers. There was so much sound equipment, and so many speakers that I could hardly believe myself. All I could think about what how intricate it would be to tune the system and test it. Each seat had speakers in in and then there were also speakers in front of each seat. Then, of course, there were all of the speakers hung in the space itself. For someone who loves Beatles music, this was definitely the show to see, as the music had been remastered for this show, and it was spectacular!

My main goal for attending this training was to come back to ISU with information that I can pass on to my students. Though I will not be able to provide my students with the experiences I have had through this training program, I do feel like I have returned to Illinois armed with information about a different type of theatre and a way of working that is different from what we do in academic theatre. I got to put my hands on some software that we would never have access to in my area (the cost of the programs would be prohibitive — one would have to be on a show with a HUGE budget in order to even think of using such programs.) My experience also gave me a better sense of different career paths that people can take in audio, and I have a better idea of how to guide my students toward those career paths. All in all, I would say it was a successful trip.