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How to be a Sound Technician with Michael Poon

Theatre Sound Technician Michael Poon, has worked on shows including the West End production of Company, as well as War Horse, Lazarus (the David Bowie musical) and Chicago. Michael offers an insight into how to work in a theatre's sound department, the misconceptions of the theatre profession and his biggest obstacles.

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Transcript:

Hi, I'm Mike Poon, I am 32 and I'm a sound operator. I was born in London and I moved to Singapore when I was three and I only came back to London when I was 18 to study and that was when I was exposed to theatre really for the first time properly. I started working front of house at a theatre actually and I met the Head of Sound who was working on the show at the time and eventually I asked him for a job, and of course it wasn't anything full-time but he luckily gave me a job as a casual member of backstage staff, and that kind of led to this career.

I worked on War Horse and on Lazarus the David Bowie musical. I've even toured both within the UK and internationally such as I've been to China with Chicago (musical) and now I'm one of the company at the Gielgud Theatre. The staff, the people you work with very quickly become your family and the feeling of creativity, it is seen as a very technical role but realistically it isn't just being technical. There's a huge amount creativity in it as well. I think coming from my background the biggest obstacle for me going into theatre was I was always very very pressured academically and I did perform well but it was to go into your standard real jobs working in finance that sort of thing.

So when I eventually did move into theatre it was viewed very much as that 'this isn't a real job' and the easiest way of overcoming that is by being really good at it. Work hard and buy nice things and pay your rent and actually have a career and that's how you prove them wrong. If I could give advice to someone just starting out I think it would be enthusiastic, really listen, really pay attention and don't take criticism too hard. I think two things you could do is if your school or anywhere nearby offers work experience opportunities really go for it and take those and another thing is if you've seen a show and you enjoy it, write to the Sound Designer, write to the sound team. If I could turn back time I would have started sooner. I didn't start late by any means but I'm glad I did lots of other things but I would jump straight in.

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Published: 08 March 2019