A sophomore’s passion for theatre sound and lighting design — along with his quickly-growing résumé of experience and training in the field — will be on display during a Saginaw Valley State University production of “Proof” later this month.
Hot off both summer courses taught at a Las Vegas institute and a key behind-the-scenes role for a hit musical produced across the Great Lakes Bay Region, Lucas Inman next will design an “ultra-real” soundscape aimed at transporting audiences deep into the world of the David Auburn-penned Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.
Performances of "Proof" are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 30-Nov. 2; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Tickets cost $15.
The story of “Proof” — about a troubled woman struggling with her late father’s legacy as a brilliant mathematician — takes place in a single setting: the backyard of a house. In his role as sound designer, Inman will record and edit audio from real outdoor environments that later will be used to simulate the setting of the play on SVSU's stage via speakers.
David Rzeszutek, the associate professor of theatre serving as the play's director, said Inman’s work will create a rich and immersive environment that will better connect audiences with the characters of "Proof."
"This whole show has a sound design underlying throughout the whole thing, almost like you might hear in a movie,” Rzeszutek said.
“From the moment the audience walks in, they're going to be in the neighborhood. Certain areas will have a dog barking; music playing from a neighboring house. The audience is always going to feel like they're sitting in the neighborhood, being surrounded by the neighborhood itself."
Creating an engaging theatrical experience requires a skill Inman has been fine-tuning since childhood, when he discovered a passion for behind-the-scenes work managing sound design for events at his church and vacation Bible school. Later, as a student at Heritage High School, he was involved in theatre productions there as an audio engineer.
The Saginaw native enrolled at SVSU last year, providing sound and lighting design as a freshman for the university’s theatre productions. The theatre major's talent and enthusiasm for the work at the collegiate level earned him invitations to national conferences offering training as well as opportunities to learn from some of the top professionals working in the entertainment industry today.
While attending the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region III Festival in Madison, Wisconsin in January 2019, Inman met Jane Childs, director of the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas. He accepted her invitation to attend the organization’s summer courses. There, Inman trained with professionals to learn more about digital drafting, rigging, audio, and lighting technology. He also witnessed and studied behind-the-scenes work of beloved Las Vegas productions such as Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles LOVE.”
“Every single second we were there, we were learning something, even if it wasn't a skill for technical theater — like how to keep yourself motivated, how to keep your confidence, and how to keep your integrity,” Inman said.
For his next role back in Michigan, he applied many of the lessons learned in Las Vegas.
Inman worked as an LED (light-emitting diode) tape electrician during the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance’s fall production of “Mamma Mia!” The experience involved complex planning for the play's two stages set at the Midland Center for the Arts as well as Pit and Balcony Theatre in Saginaw. The student soldered over 75 pieces of LED tape to various set pieces. Each light was individually added to a circuit that was remotely controlled and programmed by the production's crew to coordinate with — and compliment — the performances of the musical's massive cast of 38 actors.
Rzeszutek said it's impressive for a second-year student to possess as much skill as Inman wields in sound and lighting design. The director said he was excited to see those talents at work for "Proof."
“Usually, at this point, a sophomore is under someone’s wing or working as an assistant on a production,” Rzeszutek said. “As a sophomore, this is an extremely nice opportunity for Lucas.”
Tickets for “Proof” can be purchased online at www.etix.com/ticket/v/14187.
For more information, please contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.