Getting to Know You: Audio Engineer Ian Hildredth

If you’re ever looking for a witty comment about almost anything, search out Mark Twain. As I was thinking about how to introduce this next Geva staffer, I was trying to think about sound, about how sound in the theatre is not just music, not just amplification, and I came across this, from Twain: “Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.” An audio engineer works with a designer to find the appropriate volume, direction, and intensity of sound an audience hears, so that it’s appropriate – and the hen doesn’t sound like she’s laying an asteroid (although, what did Mark Twain know about laying eggs?) To explain a bit more about what he does, here’s 20 Questions for Ian Hildredth:

JW: Give us your basic details – who are you, where are you from…Ian Hildredth
I’m Ian Hildreth, and Audio Engineer for Geva. Basically that means I’m in charge of all the things that make sound here at the theatre. Occasionally I get to design shows too. This season I’m designing Pump Boys and Dinettes. I grew up on a small horse farm outside Syracuse, NY in a little town called Cato. I spent most of my youth in a horse barn or as a groom at a horse show.

JW: What’s the first play you remember seeing?
The first show I remember seeing was a middle school production of Oklahoma! in a neighboring school district.

JW: You know, as I think about it, I think Oklahoma! is the first show I remember too – a community theatre production, but all I really remember is that my dad was a cowboy in the show…Where did you go to school? Did you study theatre?
I went to college at SUNY Brockport for Theatre Design and Technology. In the fall semester of 2006 I did an internship with the Electrics Department here at Geva. The summer of 2007 I was hired on to mix Menopause the Musical, and from there I just kind of wound up as the Audio Engineer. I actually started working here full-time before I graduated. I wound up skipping a semester or two and finished my degree by going part-time.

JW: When did you know you were destined to work in a theatre?
I’m not really sure, but there may have been wizards involved. Honestly I got in to doing theatre in high school and just kind of stuck with it through college because it was fun. Then I got out of college and someone decided to start paying me for it. I’d say it all worked out.

JW: Wizards! What would you say is the best part of your job?
You might expect me to say something about working collaboratively with other designers to create new art, but really the most fun thing about this job is all the cool gear I get to play with. That and “turning it up to 11” for the preshow sound system checks. I will never stop getting a kick out of that.

JW: Tell us about a favorite project.
A work project or a personal project? Personally I’ve been working on restoring a 1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z C/S for the past 5 years or so. I’ve finally got it shipped off for paint. Professionally I did a cool thing with a bunch of pinball knockers and transformers to create the tapping effect in the floors for A House In Hydesville. Not-so-professionally I once took some of our old lighting inventory and turned it in to a grilled cheese maker during a particularly slow week in the shop.

JW: Does that mean we can expect grilled cheese sandwiches during the Pump Boys tech? What’s your favorite Rochester-area attraction?
County parks. There are so many parks in the area with miles and miles of trail that most people don’t even know exist. None are nearly as rugged or remote as the Adirondacks but they make for some great day hiking.

JW: Is there a place you haven’t yet been that you’d most like to visit?
One of these days I’d love to go up to Maine. Loons, moose, woods and cheap lobster.

JW: What books are on your nightstand right now?
A few nerdy amateur radio magazines, topographical maps for the Catskills, and a book called Excuse me sir, your socks are on fire by Larry Weil. It’s a collection of short stories by the author about his days as a forest ranger in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness in the Adirondacks.

JW: What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?
Pump Boys is going to be a lot of fun of course, but I’m kind of looking forward to Last Gas as well.

JW: There’s been a rash of kitten and puppy adoption amongst the Geva staff this summer. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Dog. I have a 80-ish pound pit bull mix named Kaya at home who is convinced she is a lap dog. I also have two cats, but I always say that they are my wife’s. I’m fairly certain all cats are evil.

JW: Our first production of the 2013-2014 season features pie – what’s your favorite kind?
You can never ever go wrong with fresh apple pie.

JW: What would we find in the backseat of your car?
Currently in the back of my truck there are some muddy hiking boots, load straps, bungee cords, the harness base for my dog’s saddle bags, a dog leash, a set of kayak cradles, and a can of brake cleaner.

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