Getting to Know Kyle Jensen - Dallas Theater Center
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Getting to Know Kyle Jensen

Photo by Diane Diederich Photography

 

What do you do as the Interim Head of Audio & Video at Dallas Theater Center?

My job as the interim Head of Audio & Video is to coordinate all audio and video aspects for the Dallas Theater Center. This includes spec’ing and preparing all the sound and video equipment required for Dallas Theater Center’s productions, as well as staffing the crew for load-in, tech period, previews, performances, and load-out.

What is your favorite aspect of the work you do?

My favorite aspect of the job is being part of a team that works hard to bring new work to the stage. When you see an audience positively react to something you’ve poured your heart and soul into, it makes it all worth it. Of course, in a pandemic, that latter aspect is slightly different, but so far, it has been just as rewarding.

How did you find your way to theater?

I got my start in theatre as a freshman in high school when my friend brought me to a focus call. The next thing I knew, I was brought on as a spot operator for our production of To Kill a Mockingbird. During that show, I realized how much I enjoyed the production process and the camaraderie that came with being on a crew. 

From there, I indicated my interest in audio, and as no one wanted to run the soundboard for productions, I was able to mix most of the musicals and plays my school put on. From there, I went to college for audio production, where I also got to work on plays and musicals and freelance in the DC area, and that’s where I realized I wanted to do this as a career.

You received the Outstanding Theater Sound Mixing Award from American University. Congratulations! Can you tell us about how you earned the award?

Thank you! This was for my work on a production of Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum during my senior year of college. I ended up helping to coordinate a rotating crew of three mixers, one of whom was mixing the band, and the other the vocals, while the third had the night off. This isn’t the standard operating procedure for most shows these days — most shows will only have one, possibly two, operators at Front of House — but given the circumstances and staffing requirements, we decided to go ahead with this approach.

You just started at Dallas Theater Center. Welcome to the family! What has the experience of coming in during a pandemic been like? 

Thank you. I’m very excited to be here! It has not been easy, I’ll be honest. Learning a new workflow, what people to reach out to about what, and a new space — all of which are typical parts of a new job — takes a bit of time. Throw a pandemic on top of it, and you get a unique twist on the onboarding process, which, to be frank, I hope I don’t have to go through again.

What part of the upcoming season are you looking forward to most?

I am looking forward to every show we have on deck. Working is one I am really looking forward to. I love a good Stephen Schwartz musical. I also can’t wait to work on Tiny Beautiful Things.

You’re new to Texas, right? How do you like it so far?

That’s correct. Before now, the only time I had ever set foot in Texas was on a layover on my way to California. So far, I’m enjoying it! I have yet to explore the city, but I have a list of places I want to see once it is safe to do so. I also have two good friends who live here, and that has made the transition much easier.

What’s your favorite production that you have been a part of?

Each production I’ve worked on is unique in its own way, and it isn’t easy to choose just one. In terms of music, I loved working on Spring Awakening at American University as the mix engineer. To this day, that’s the only show I’ve worked on where a song that wasn’t at the end of an act got a standing ovation.

Cast of Spring Awakening photo by Ryan Maxwell, lighting design by Jason Arnold and scenic design by Samina Vieth

In terms of a cast, creative team, and crew that worked so well together and created a piece of theatre that was — for lack of a better word — magical, that would be Tuck Everlasting put on by the Southeastern Summer Theater Institute and directed by Joe Barros. I was fortunate enough to be the sound designer for this show, and I am sure it will stay with me for a long time.

Cast of Tuck Everlasting photo by Kyle Jensen, lighting design by Aaron Bowersox, and scenic design by Libby Stadstadp

What were you doing before coming here?

Before joining Dallas Theater Center, I was teaching sound design classes over Zoom for SSTI Online, and before we locked down and shut theatres, I was an audio engineer at the GEVA Theater Center in Rochester, New York. We were a week from closing our production of Once when we got the notice that we would not be allowed to finish out the run of shows. Fortunately, we were able to film our final two performances for people whose tickets were cancelled so they could watch it on demand.

You’re also passionate about music. What can you tell us about it?

I am. I play piano, viola, and cello. For about six years I was also a touring DJ and producer, where I got to perform in Europe, Mexico, Canada, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and on the grounds of the original Woodstock music festival.

If you could sound design any play or musical, which would you choose?

That’s a good question. Musicals I’d love to do would be 42nd Street or A Chorus Line. As for plays, The Royale and Sticks and Bones are at the top of my list.

If you won the lottery, what are the first five things you would do?

Hmmmm… Probably pay off my student loans, take a vacation (if it’s safe to do so), create a scholarship for early career sound designers, put some in my savings, and start my own rental company.

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