Many Hats: Sound Designer
By:Brittany Ann Meister
Jake Thompson went to Chapman University and focused on theatre studies, and in addition to being one of the founders of VFR, wears many other hats. Jake is a board member, actor, director, graphic designer, and sound designer for the company.
What do you do at VFR?
Lately, not much, which is cool. Now I don’t have to do as many things since we’ve stretched
the leadership board out.
Lately I’ve been doing composition for Hamlet and graphic design. I trust everyone to get things
done so it’s nice to take a breather.
How did you start working in graphic design? How about sound design?
When Joss Whedon released "Much Ado About Nothing" they had a contest to design a poster and submit it through
twitter. I didn’t win, but I didn’t know anything about photoshop, I made this 1960’s style thing,
which when I look at it now makes me cringe, but I entered this contest and it went from there.
A theatre company from my hometown needed help with their glass menagerie poster.
In high school and middle school I did a lot of video editing and I wanted to focus on editing
videos to music. In college it was about putting music to a play. More of a playlist.
During VFR I started exploring the design of it more. “Transition” music etc.
Can you tell us about the sound design for "Hamlet?"
I'm composing a bunch of original music for Hamlet. The concept is to write all of the music with the
play specifically in mind. More specifically than that, moments of the play, and how the actor’s
beats can influence the sound.
The song is tailored to the action. A lot like live scoring. An actor’s cue will prompt the stage
manager to give a sound cue to coincide with the action.
Can you give us some insight into the company's designs for this seasons?
I think it’s indicative of where we’re going as a company. Every poster was different, even the
paper dimensions. Every poster was it’s unique thing. It was a show by show basis, we did a lot
of shows. I wanted to see what worked the best. Taming of the Shrew and Richard posters were
long and skinny, I thought it would be eye catching and easier to hang on crowded bulletin
boards. I think they looked cool ,but ultimately it was too different.
Same thing for the text layout, which is arguably one of the most important part of the posters. I
was trying to find a way for it to work well, which was coherent.
This season, we got our stuff together a lot more. The posters represent that too. Each show
has it’s own color. Simple colors. 8 ½ by 14 paper, so it’s familiar but not too familiar. The font is
the same, the logos are in the same place. I wanted to have a sense of cohesion. I think we
found what sticks and I wanted to roll with that graphically speaking.
I was personally resistant to the idea of a cohesive theme and that’s a silly thing to be resistant
to. You want everything to look similar, you want brand recognition. Even if you don’t
consciously say, hey that looks like the poster I saw a couple months ago, maybe there’s a
As a preview of what to expect from "Hamlet" sound-wise next month, we've included a link (below) to something that Jake's been working on for the show! Check it out, enjoy, and keep your eyes open for more Hamlet fun coming your way soon!
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