Sitting Chatting With John Leonard in NYC

Following his sound check on Thursday, December 4, before his weekend of tech rehearsals, I caught up with sound designer John Leonard in New York City:

Welcome to New York, where you are designing the sound for

The Cripple of Inishmaan at The Atlantic Theatreā€¦

Thanks, it's great to be back in the city again, even though the weather seems to have changed as soon as I arrived. It's also great to be at The Atlantic, which must be one of the friendliest venues in the city.

This production came from The Druid Theatre Company, where Garry Hynes is the artistic director, in Galway, Ireland. We started this production earlier in the year at a little theatre called The Town Hall Theatre which seats 300, then the show toured Ireland, including the Dublin festival, then two dates in the UK, before coming over to The Atlantic.

What does the sound rig consist of? Do you use in-house gear or rent what you need for the production?

It's pretty much the in-house rig at The Atlantic: a mixture of d&b for the proscenium and surround and Meyer UPA1Ps. I made them buy a QLab rig for the effects ad music playback, as that's what Druid have been using for the last couple of years. They have a Yamaha DM1000 digital console, so the QLab goes into the console, which fans out to various speaker locations. It's a very simple show, but very sweet.

Are there any sound effects?

Yes, a clock, a couple of dogs, the sea: actually a mix of two seas: my favorite sea (but I won't tell you what that is) and the sea recorded on the Inishmaan, seagulls, birdsong, stuff like that. The soundtrack is actually a little bit of an in-joke for the company, because I've used sounds from Druid's production of DruidSynge, which we brought to the John Jay Theater for the Lincoln Center Festival a couple of years ago.

We have a fantastic cast and stage management team, and I'm very pleased to be working with the usual Druid creative team, Francis O'Connor (set) and Davy Cunningham (lighting.) We're also very lucky to have Eamonn Fox, Druid's production manager, over from Ireland to make sure that it all goes together, although Michael Wade, The Atlantic's production manager, seems to everything in hand. I've been looked after by David Arnold, who's put the system together for me and it's been a very easy get-in.

What's next on your schedule?

First I'm doing a revival of Duet for One at the Almeida, with Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman. A new play at the National with Nick Hytner called England People Very Nice, by Richard Bean, about a group of asylum seekers in a camp putting on a play about immigrants coming to England. It's a play with music.

john leonard in NYC

related story: Searching For The Perfect Wave: A Life Recording Sound Effects

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