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How Do You Mic A Stripper? by ARTalk

[by Harrison Bralower '11] It's a great question when you really think about it.

[by Harrison Bralower ’11]

I distinctly remember that question when I interviewed to be the Sound Designer for the Musical Theater Guild’s (MTG) spring production of The Full Monty. It’s a great question when you really think about it-—how does one attach a microphone to a stripper without it looking too conspicuous? When you’re not wearing anything in front of an audience of 200 they shouldn’t be looking at a black box on the small of your back, if you know what I mean.

MTG (and MIT’s other student theater groups) makes questions like these (and the mental images that inevitably follow) possible. It’s only one of the many memories I took away from the show, memories that include chatting with the awesome new people I met and overcoming the frustration that comes with learning something new (I had never sound designed on my own before).

But the production process isn’t as easy as answering a few disarming questions and joking around with the case. It takes more than two months to put a show together around here and the payoff is six days of raw, naked glory (let me assure you that carefully lighted full-frontal nudity is neither commonplace nor a prominent feature of most of the shows done at MIT). It’s a long, difficult road-—from the first production meeting to the first rehearsal to load-in to the first tech to the last night. Just ask anyone associated with a show here or anywhere—-there’s always the worry that all the components won’t come together (and they usually don’t until the night the show opens). But it’s truly rewarding to start with 120 pieces of paper and infuse them with the unique visions of many individuals—-to give life to words on a page.

This is my experience from only one show but I’ve got countless more that date back to my freshman year of high school. Theater is a wonderful experience in which you meet all kinds of people and experience all kinds of crazy stuff. And by working with the immensely talented and diverse people here at MIT I guarantee a wealth of memorable quotes and events from your days doing theater or any other artistic endeavor here. Have any questions about MIT (artistic or otherwise)? Or do you have an artistic experience you’d like to share? Post it in the comments and strike up a discussion! Who knows—-maybe you’ll remember it years from now.

12 responses to “How Do You Mic A Stripper?”

  1. I’m thinkin’ a wireless headset would be best…like the “radios” used on Stargate Atlantis.* The connection between the mouthpiece and the wireless transmitter is very thin, and almost invisible. Also, the transmitter itself isn’t much bigger than a silver dollar, and sits near the ear. Anyway, instead of broadcasting to another radio, send the signal to a speaker.

    *Realize, of course, that these things may not even exist in the real world (or, I may be misinterpreting how they work). But even if they don’t, MIT does have quite a few engineers that could design something similar…

    …if, ya know, MTG really had a need for such a thing.

  2. Keri says:

    Donald –

    I was the producer for an MTG show this past IAP and have been in the cast or on the production staff for many more of its shows. During term, rehearsals are from 7-10 Monday through Thursday – you won’t get called every night to start, but expect to be at more and more rehearsals as you get closer to opening. Shows usually open a few weeks before finals and “AHHH EVERYTHING IS DUE” week, which is good – as you can imagine, they take up quite a bit of your time during the run.

    IAP shows are a little different: rehearsals are 6-10 Sunday through Thursday, and you will probably be there nearly every night, since opening is the last Friday of IAP and the entire show is put together in less than four weeks. Since the majority of your time commitment (outside of prod week) is at night, you’re more than free to take a class or work during the day; I worked at my UROP full-time while producing The Wild Party.

    As for how many people attend the shows, it really depends on the time of year and how well-known the show is or how interesting it sounds. Last IAP, nearly 900 people saw Reefer Madness over the six-show run. This year’s show didn’t even come close to that number.

  3. haha! Thats a great conundrum. I’ve always been on the actor side rather than the tech side (though never as a stripper). I also have never had the opportunity to do a musical! :-( I really hope I find time to be in at least one MTG production while I’m at MIT.

    Given that I hope to be involved in some pretty heavy extracurricular during the spring and fall (like an a capella group, hopefully), I’m curious: are there many people that turn up just for the Summer or IAP shows? How much of a time commitment is the MTG at any time of the year? <insert other questions here>

    Thanks. Peace,

  4. Lainers says:

    So what was the best strategy that was come up with?

  5. Becky '12 says:

    In addition, sometimes strippers/people who have to take off their clothes on stage might wear skin-colored body suits. If she was, that solves the problem pretty quickly. Also, depending on her hairstyle you might be able to fix something up (for that scene alone… you wouldn’t want this to be the arrangement for the whole show because I’d imagine it might be kind of painful) in which you put it in her hair. Depending on how much she moves around, and depending on the quality/reliability of your equipment, you might be able to rely on stage mics (or if she’s stripping on a pole, attach a mic to the pole). There are lots of options. =]

    I’m a sound techie (in case you couldn’t tell from above, lol), but I’m also interested in playing a varsity sport. Do techies need to be at all the rehearsals, or could I miss/be late to some for sports events? Would doing both be at all doable?

  6. Kelly says:

    gah. I miss theatre so much. I really wish my school did more than one musical a year.

    If I get into MIT I will most definately be a techie for a show or two.

  7. Harrison says:

    @Lainers: We Ace-bandaged the mic packs around their arms. It’s fairly innocuous except for the cable from the headset to the pack that’s floating around. I wish we could have worked out something nicer for that but that’s hindsight, right?

    @Becky: Absolutely you can do both at the same time, if you play your cards right. You’ll have to be present at your practices and competitions but rehearsals (if you need to go to them, which for board ops and certain prod staff members isn’t really necessary) usually start after 7 around here no matter which group you’re working with to accommodate for people in your position. So if you’re a light designer you’ll definitely need to be at a fair share of rehearsals to get a solid idea of what you’re doing but if you’re just the light board op you can do nothing until Hell Week (unless you feel like helping with light hangs and focusing, for example).

    Kelly: Do it! MIT is in dire need of techies (and really, who isn’t?) There’s a ton of great people to work with so you can’t really go wrong here.

  8. Christian says:

    I am really involved in the stage crew here at my high school. Is there any advice you could give me on how to join the tech group there at MIT? Also would it be a good idea to prepare a portfolio of all the things I have done?

  9. Susan '11 says:

    For some reason I find the sentence “MIT is in dire need of techies” (Harrison, above comment) to be hilarious.

    Mind you, I know I’ve been quoted as saying “Cancer is really cool” after a 7.013 class. And my HSSP class asked me about building a death star, so I put it into termss of “So, you have a fifty-pound cubic foot of Death Star, but that will need around 20 or 25 cans of beans worth of energy in order to get it into orbit …”

    It’s still funny though.

  10. Harrison says:

    @Christian: So MIT doesn’t have a tech group per se… it’s more like individual techies gravitate toward one or two companies and work with them as a sort of freelancer. You absolutely don’t need a portfolio, but if you want, say, a design position with MTG and you’re a freshman it’s a good idea to have prior experience and to be able to talk about things you’ve done that relate to what you want to do–things that went good, things that went bad, etc. Also I find being able to answer hypothetical questions that sound silly but are actually important to the show is a plus. Now if you want to join an actual tech crew there’s a group called E33 that does lighting for events like concerts, fancy dinners, and performances and if you work with them you’d be a paid employee usually working as a board op, electrician, or lighting designer. It’s a really great campus job and if you want I’d be glad to talk about it more later on.

  11. Kelly says:

    I second the MIT is in dire need of techies comment as funny.

  12. Isshak says:

    I’m more on the actor side as well and I hope I’ll be able to continue to act where ever I’ll go ! It’s a passion I am not ready to stop.
    900 views ? Wow it must have been one great play !