Spotlight On: George Dennis (Sound Designer)

Spotlight On: George Dennis (Sound Designer)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

George Dennis is a sound designer who has worked on productions for the Young Vic, Headlong, Theatre Royal Bath and Southwark Playhouse. More recently, he designed the sound for Touring Consortium Theatre Company's Regeneration.

What is your involvement with Regeneration?

As sound designer, my job involves overseeing the sound system, picking sound effects and also helping the composer (Stuart Earl) realise his artistic vision for the show. It’s about working to communicate the story, most effectively, to the audience. What’s interesting about Regeneration is there’s going to be a lot of synergy between music and sound. Very early on in the rehearsal process, Stuart and I talked about ideas, things we might like to do and the way in which we’d work together.

Can you tell us a little bit about the kind of sounds used in the production?

Ultimately, anything I do is going to be informed by naturalistic sound. There will be definite things in the show which will come from real life. We’re going to be taking some of the sounds and, using computer processes, we’ll manipulate them in various ways. This will create sounds that are both naturalistic and slightly abstract. So there’ll be a bit of a soundscape, but there’s also room in the show for little things like ticking clocks, tennis matches and footsteps in corridors.

How did you become a Sound Designer?

People get into Sound Design in lots of different ways. I started off by playing the violin! I studied music at University but whilst there I became more in music composition. So I carried on and did a Masters. When I’d finished that I started looking round for things that would lend themselves to my skills. Sound Design in theatre fitted well because it’s often about using sound in very musical way.

So are your sound designs more musical because of your background?

I think they’re informed by music. The way I think about sounds is very musical, particularly when I’m working with composers. We can speak the same language: in terms of things like bars, metre and rhythms. They’re not literally musical.

If were to give somebody who’s considering a career in sound design two pieces of advice, what would they be?

First, look at who’s working on shows that you like and write to them. Sometimes they might be too busy to reply but don’t be put off. Write to them and ask if you can go and observe them at work. “Please may I watch what your job is?” That’s the 
best possible thing you can be doing. I didn’t do it, but I always wish I had! Second, if your school or college does any kind of Music Technology course, do it! There are things I learned at AS Level which I still find useful today.

George Dennis has worked on productions for Young Vic, Headlong, Theatre Royal Bath and Southwark Playhouse. You can follow him on Twitter @dennisdennis

Regeneration premiered on 2 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.