Behind the Screen: Talking 'Together Apart: A Socially Distanced Collaboration' with Sound Designer, Katie Wolfe

Behind the Screen: Talking 'Together Apart: A Socially Distanced Collaboration' with Sound Designer, Katie Wolfe

The pandemic has presented many challenges for theatre artists over the past eight months in trying to create performances that still captivate and connect with their audiences. The Department of Theatre has worked diligently to keep performances both safe and impactful for audiences and cast and crew, in doing so, has created a completely original, devised piece for the second show of the season. Katie Wolfe is one of the many crew members that helped make the show possible with her work as Sound Designer and Video Media Consultant.


Katie Wolfe is a second-year student at Auburn University double majoring in Design Technology with an emphasis on lighting and Electrical Engineering. Her previous Auburn Theatre credits include; Master Electrician for “Blithe Spirit", lighting design for “Bodies in Motion”, Assistant Master Electrician for “Bring it On”, and Fly Rail Operator for “The Belle’s Stratagem” and “Eurydice”. Wolfe’s favorite show so far has been “Bring it On” because she got to work with new equipment. Wolfe says, “One day we worked on setting up LED beams and it was fun because a bunch of us got to work on wiring and DMX conversion boxes and learned more about that side of lighting and not just traditional theatrical lighting.”


One of the benefits of recording a show through Zoom was that Wolfe could utilize more of her visual editing and audio knowledge for the show. If the performance was live and in person, she may not have been able to share these additional skills. The show features many audio and video transitions throughout, which creates another creative element for the show beyond performance, directing, and writing.  Wolfe made these transitions, and the additional task is what was most exciting about the project. By adding these elements, the audience experiences another artistic interpretation from the editor -- a voice that is not normally used in live theatre.


An unlikely benefit of Zoom theatre that Wolfe enjoyed was the remote work. Wolfe says, “I ended up feeling under the weather and decided to head home close to the tech process. Because we were recording remotely, I was able to take part in tech still, even though I was in another state. I never had to change out of my pajamas!”


Still, sound designing a show online presented its challenges. Wolfe recognized that she tends to be a hands-on leader. Over Zoom she found it very difficult to troubleshoot problems with the microphones because she was not physically in the same space with the actor and the equipment. Wolfe had to think creatively and make adjustments on how she walked the actor through a problem step by step. Wolfe found that she enjoyed teaching people how to solve problems rather than just grabbing the device and fixing it herself.


Wolfe spent most of tech and the filming nights setting up the recordings for the audio. Each actors’ microphone channel was recorded as a separate MP4 file so that she could go in during post-production to adjust the volume of each actor to balance it out when she synced up the audio.


Wolfe also integrated some of her engineering skills into this process with a tradition, known among engineers, of talking to a rubber duck whenever issues arise. Wolfe solved problems by saying it out loud to her rubber duck, Sheep Duck. “Together Apart” tech rehearsals were no exceptions. Sheep Duck was present every night on Zoom-- ready to talk out any technical problems that Wolfe was experiencing.


Wolfe encourages people to watch the show because it is a moving and thoughtful piece. She says, “Especially in the world we are in now, the show reflects on the importance of theatre and activism. It provides a strong basis for why theatre still matters and should matter to you.”


“Together Apart: A Socially Distanced Collaboration” will be available for viewing November 16-22 and you can get your tickets now!  Come celebrate theatre with this newly devised piece as The Department of Theatre continues to explore the digital realm.


“Together Apart: A Socially Distanced Collaboration”

Conceived and Directed by Ashley Butler

Available for Viewing: November 16th-22nd

Buy Tickets


Virtual Talkback Thursdays

“Together Apart: A Socially Distanced Collaboration” Talkback

Thursday, November 19th, 7:30 pm

Register Now


A free virtual event, to engage in discussion around the performance or learn more about the production, make plans to attend “Talkback Thursday” hosted through Zoom webinars this year. Register now to take part in the conversation and ask questions about the production and its process.

Last Updated: November 16, 2020