Welcome back, TheatrePeople!
This week is a special one. I had the opportunity to interview a fantastic, innovative Sound Designer, Jessica Paz. Among many things, Jessica is the Tony Award-winning sound artist behind Anaïs Mitchell’s groundbreaking production, Hadestown.
Jessica is incredibly kind and generous, and you'll feel her deep love of live theatrical performance and the power of storytelling in every line of this. I hope you're as thrilled by her interview as I am! Enjoy!
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
Hadestown for sure. Everything about it from the story its based on, the music written by Anais Mitchell, the development and creative process, right down to the incredible team of people creating, operating, and maintaining the show.
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?
I was able to bring FELA! the musical to Nigeria, and while we were loading in the show at the venue we also had an opportunity to perform a concert version of the show at Felas nightclub ‘The Shrine.' I got to mix that concert!
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
Oh gosh. First preview of FELA our lead actor sweat out his mic within 5 minutes of the show, and he never leaves the stage. He had to do the rest of the act with a handheld mic, then the same thing happened again in Act 2. It was pretty rough. We had no idea how much he would sweat, and the next day we added a bunch of absorption and customization to his mic rig.
Why do you love theatre?
I love how collaborative theater is, I love that it is LIVE, every performance has something a little different about it. I love how in the moment theater is.
Theatre is for...
Theater is for understanding ourselves, others, and the world around us. Spoken word and Oral tradition were the first kinds of storytelling after cave drawings, theater allows us to keep oral tradition alive. Theater allows us to tell stories, and storytelling is the bridge to understanding ourselves, others, and the world around us.
More Incredible Theatre People
Ed Reggi, Theatrical Performer and Teacher
Jennifer Finlayson, High School Theatre Director
Adam Michael Rose, Theatre and Film Dialect Coach
More about Jessica
Jessica Paz is a Tony Award-winning Sound Designer for theater, film and music. Most recently, she collaborated with Nevin Steinberg on the sound design for Anaïs Mitchell’s acclaimed production of Hadestown, which earned the duo a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle nomination.
On Broadway, Jessica was an Associate Sound Designer on projects including Dear Evan Hansen, Bandstand, Disaster! The Musical; The Assembled Parties (MCC); and Fela!.
Other design credits include Little Shop of Horrors (Westside Theater); Kiss My Aztec (Berkeley Rep); Twelfth Night, Othello, Miss You Like Hell, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Nights Dream, and As You Like It (The Public Theater); Burn All Night (A.R.T Oberon Stage); Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout); A Sucker EmCee, and The Muscles in Our Toes (LAByrinth); The Kings Whore (Starcatcher Productions); Becoming Dr. Ruth (Westside Theater); Looking for the Pony (Vital Theater Co.); Women Beware Women (Red Bull Theater); STRETCH – A Fantasia (New Georges); Welcome to Fear City (KC Rep); Scott & Hem in the Garden of Allah, and See How They Run (Barrington Stage); Legally Blonde, and 9 to 5 The Musical (North Shore Music Theater); Romeo & Juliet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, and Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare on the Sound’s Productions); SCKBSTD (Virginia Stage Co) ; Volcanoes Birthright (Organic Magnetics); TempOdyssey, And Her Hair Went With Her, Bookends, and Minstrel Show (NJ Rep).
Jessica has been a Front of House Engineer for musicians including The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Antibalas, Julia Haltigan, Femi Kuti, Lady Antebellum, Candy Shop Boys, People vs. Larson, Michael Arenetta, Bugaboo, Carte Blanche, King Holiday, The Woes, Stone Cold Fox, The African Children’s Choir and many others. She has also been a Lecturer of Sound Design in addition to student advisor for Princeton Universities production of Next To Normal, and was the Sound Designer of the Actor’s Studio Drama School’s yearly Master’s Thesis productions from 2009 – 2014.
Jessica is fascinated by music studio and live concert techniques. She is constantly learning and researching innovative approaches from the traditional music recording world, and bringing them into her theater work. A proud member of IATSE Local 829; Soundgirls.org; Woman’s Audio Mission; USITT; and Co-Chair of the board of the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association. She currently resides in New York. Pizza is her favorite food group.
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