Winner of a Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarship, Mackenzie “Mack” Gauthier is a junior at the University of Connecticut, studying for a BFA degree in Design and Technical Theatre, with a concentration in sound design. Mack was named 2018 New England Scholar by the university and opened her first repertory show as a sound designer, If We Were Birds by Erin Shields at Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Mack aspires to continue creating unique soundscapes for performances that inspire justice, and shed light on difficult narratives within society. Some of her other credits include The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (sound designer, UConn Dramatic Arts Department Series), and Into the Woods (sound designer/A1, Chestnut Street Playhouse).
A judging panel of audio professionals organized by TSDCA—and coordinated by sound designer and TSDCA co-chair Lindsay Jones—selected the sound scholarship winners. “What made Mackenzie Gauthier stand out for me was the way her professors spoke about her work. It was clear that she has maturity in design choices beyond her years. It was clear her general approach was unique and informed by her experiences. That she inspired trust this early in her career was extremely compelling and rare,” notes Brad Berridge, one of the judges for the sound scholarships.
Live Design: What made you interested in the field of lighting, projection/video, or audio design?
Mackenzie Gauthier: I first found sound design through my high school’s theatre club; however, I think I was always interested in sound. As a baby, my mother bought me socks with bells on the toes—when you shook your feet the bells would jingle—I think that’s where my curiosity with sound began. I would always listen to music, and loved learning to play different instruments—now I play guitar, flute, and hang drum. In high school I worked on various shows, including Almost, Maine, and Into the Woods. This was where I first discovered what sound design truly is. I had applied to the University of Connecticut as an English major, but as my senior year in high school went on, I found I wanted to double major in theatre. To make a long story short, I spoke to the right people, and now am pursuing a major in Design and Technical theatre with a concentration in Sound Design (and an English minor).
LD: What are your career goals?
MG: My highest priority is to be happy and passionate about what I’m working on. It seems like such a trivial thing, but it makes such a large difference in the finished work. I would like to stay in the theatre scene; however, my ultimate goal is to become a professor in sound design. Helping other people find their true passion in life and create amazing works are inspiring for me—seeing others find success compels me to strive for more exceptional work in myself.
LD: What are your influences, albeit people or events?
MG: I am first and foremost influenced by my desire to create. When I was five years old, my kindergarten teacher had asked my class to draw pictures—I don’t remember what I’d drawn, but I do know when my parents had a meeting with my teacher later that week, she asked them if they were planning on doing something with my artistic ability. I have been influenced by my parents’ continuous support of my art and artistic tendencies, as well as my friends, who can always find a way to help me get rid of my ‘artist’s block.’ At the Norwich Free Academy starting in my sophomore year, I nurtured my passion for storytelling and writing, taking at least three classes with the same teacher because of his unique way of interpreting the stories and pieces we read.
This past spring, I designed If We Were Birds by Erin Shields. It was my first design at a repertory theatre and my first time being the head designer of a show, never mind working with the subject matter of sexual assault and violence against women. It was one of the most difficult pieces I’ve worked on thus far, but it was the most rewarding. I am so inspired by the stories told within that text, and it has heavily influenced how I want to portray my craft and creative projects in the future.