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My First Job: Will Alder – ‘Don’t be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone’

Will Alder. Photo: Gabriel Isserlis
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My first job was as sound designer and production manager for Bred in Heaven. It was for the Welsh company Frapetsus, directed by Michael Bogdanov. We teched at Swansea Grand before touring to Welsh venues, big and small. This was in 2011, when I was still at university, and the show went without me to Cardiff’s New Theatre, where my design stayed for a week while I went back to do my third year. I was terrified as it was the first show of this scale I’d been involved with, and I’d never production-managed anything before.

I remember having a big battle lasting several production meetings with the director who was also the lighting designer. He was convinced that we should tour pre-rigged and pre-focused lighting bars, but I argued we should tour a desk that we simply re-patched at each venue. He was convinced that what took longest was focusing lights in each venue, and we could simply programme the show into each venue’s desk. For budgetary reasons, the producers decided to go with my method.

The sound design was made up of a combination of my own tracks, recording sessions we did and a number of pre-recorded tracks. When I was asked to fill in a PRS form, I remember not knowing what on earth PRS was.

I was definitely chucked in at the deep end, but what I learned from just going out there and doing it and meeting far more experienced in-house technicians was simply invaluable. I owe a huge amount of gratitude to the in-house staff at the Swansea Grand, particularly their chief LX Bomber.

That’s my tip for others who find themselves in the same position: ask for help, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone. I love this industry because no two days are the same and you learn something new every day. Think outside the box and trust your gut.

CV: Will Alder

Age: 28
Training: National Youth Theatre; Aberystwyth University
Theatre includes: On With the Dance (lighting designer), LSSO/Rambert; Tahiti! (lighting designer), Bloomsbury Opera; Hotel Europe (sound designer), Loose Tongue; Bitches (sound designer), National Youth Theatre; Hello Oxford (technical designer), Oxford Playhouse

Will Alder is the artistic director of Bobble Hat; its show London’s First Live Advent Calendar runs in Wimbledon from December 1 to 24. He was talking to John Byrne

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