The Kids Are Alright: Young Designer To Watch, E.M. Gimenez

E.M. Gimenez Sound And Video Designer

Home base: Los Angeles

Employer: Sound Department intern, Los Angeles Opera, and freelance sound and video designer.

Current project(s): Il Postino (world premier opera starring Placido Domingo), Imaginus Zoo (television/web pilot/theatrical installation), At Sundown (a devised piece of theatre for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2010).

Most notable achievements: Other than receiving my degrees and having a job in this fun-filled field, I can’t think of much more! [Editor’s note: We doubt that.]

When I started in this industry: Summer 2002—I had been working on my bachelors degree in recording engineering at Indiana University since 1998, but that summer was my first working at Interlochen Center for the Arts, a high-end band camp and roadhouse. Over the next few summers, I cut my teeth as a house systems tech, monitor engineer, and all other aspects of live sound.

How I got into this industry: Through fits and starts—after four years at Interlochen and three years as staff recording engineer at West Virginia University, I shifted toward theatre and began to pursue my MFA from CalArts.

Influences: Kevin Adams, Frieder Weiss, Mark Bennett, Rob Kaplowitz, The Wooster Group, Elevator Repair Service, Disneyland, the films of Terry Gilliam.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: I won’t dignify the advice by having it printed!

Best advice I’ve ever heard: “Just show up, and be prepared for anything, even if you aren’t completely expected.” For some smaller shows, being able to be a helping hand has paid dividends down the road.

And: “Save everything every five minutes!”

Favorite thing about the production industry: The energy in a good process—when the vision comes alive, all the hours prior feel like nothing!

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: For design, be in the room! I’ve had so many processes where I wasn’t as present in the rehearsal room as I needed to be, and it would set the show back greatly. Since my designs viscerally interact with the actors—more than just playback, my shows often feature a lot of microphone usage as well as practical speakers that performers need to work with—it is vitally important that I, or an assistant, is there to react to what the performers are doing.

Plans for the future: Continuing at the LA Opera; developing Opera Del Espacio, a site-specific theatrical company in and around LA; and picking up other design projects as they present themselves.

Other interests/side gigs: I’ve been dabbling in criticism. This past summer, I was a reviewer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for

Other: Another interest of late is exploring technology not designed for theatrical use in theatrical constructs. I’m looking toward creating site-specific theatre pieces using museum audio tour systems. At the LA Opera, we’re using sonic transducers to turn sets into foldback speakers.

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