Staff Highlights: Ian Martin

You can find this staff member behind the soundboard at all of our live shows, making sure everything sounds perfect. Let’s hear Ian Martin, our Assistant Technical Director and Audio Supervisor, geek out on sound engineering and our historic Hall!

Tell us what you do at The Music Hall?
I am the Assistant Technical Director and Audio Supervisor. I work directly with the other members of the production team to advance, prepare for, and execute all live events that happen at both the Historic Theater and the Loft with an emphasis on the live sound element of the shows. I also oversee and run our overhire technicians that we bring in on a show to show basis.

You’ve been working behind-the-scenes at shows at our theater and Ogunquit Playhouse for a while now. What made you want to get into production and sound engineering? 
I began working as a sound technician in high school for the drama department. At the time it was just a hobby that I had fun doing, and it wasn’t until I got to college I realized that it was something I could make a career out of. My degree is actually in Criminal Justice, but all four years of college I ran sound for both the university’s theatre department and student union building. I also freelanced in the summer for a few local production companies. It wasn’t until my senior year when I had an opportunity to tour that I knew I wanted this to be my career. I got the job at The Music Hall two weeks before I graduated from college and I’ve been here ever since!

The Historic Theater has been a working venue since 1878. What makes working backstage different from other theaters you’ve worked at?
The biggest difference is our rigging system. While we have integrated some modern rigging for our heavier line sets, we still utilize a large amount of hemp line sets, which consists of four ropes attached to a pipe that are counter-weighted using sandbags. While this style certainly presents some challenges, it definitely makes it a lot of fun to be a rigger in our space.

Have you ever seen a ghost while working in the theater late at night?
I have been by myself in the theater in the dark very late on more than a few occasions. Sorry to disappoint, but I have not had any encounters yet.

Okay, geek out on us! What is one thing that every aspiring sound engineer needs to know or have?
Try to get an internship at a production company, theater, or studio. Work your way up from there. Be humble and learn as much as you can from everyone who is willing to teach you. Getting work in this industry is all about who you know. Make a good impression and always be a good hang. It will get you a lot farther than assuming you know more than the people around you. (For whoever asked this question a few weeks ago, our Profile has 3 DSP cards. Most tech riders ask for a minimum of four but no one has ever complained.)

Tell us your favorite behind-the-scenes moment?
This is more of my own personal horror story, but it’s a classic at this point. During my first year working here, I was on the run crew for White Christmas in 2015. On the final performance, I was running backstage to get to my next move, which required me to pass through the wardrobe room. The clip on my flashlight in my pocket got caught in the fabric of the dress that one of the leads wears in the finale. I tore a solid 9-inch hole in the fabric and ripped it off its hanger. I locked eyes with the wardrobe supervisor and thought for a second that I was going to be stabbed with a pair of scissors. A lot of yelling followed and I ran out of the room and just barely made it to my next move in time. After a year of apologies, that wardrobe supervisor and I are now good friends.