Sound Internship at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
January 19, 2024
We’re all big fans of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and we have been delighted to place several interns on the show; most recently Travis Yu as Sound Intern. We are very grateful to Sonia Friedman Productions for creating this opportunity, which was in memory of Laura Head, a much loved member of the Sound Team on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We caught up with Travis after their internship finished, to see what working in a West End show is all about.
What did your sound internship include?
Throughout the internship, I have followed the sound department and learned various plots both backstage and front-of-house, from tasks such as rig checks every morning, fitting microphones on cast members and doing (very) quick changes during the show etc, to operating sound effects and learning about mixing during rehearsals and live.
What skills did you develop during your internship?
During my time working here, I have gained so much technical knowledge about the day-to-day of a West End production, and more importantly understood the human side of the job: the liaison, the networking, and the kindness and sympathy one must have to work in such an environment. With such a big team at HPCC, there is so much communication and collaboration that happens backstage to create the Wizarding World so many people love. Especially given the fact that the company had gone through a cast change in my time here, I was grateful to be part of the team to maintain and continue the quality of the show with our new cast members.
This process has consolidated my knowledge from my studies and put it into practice. Aspiring to be an all-round sound creative in the industry, I lacked experience and knowledge in how sound technologies are being used or how a theatrical experience is being reproduced daily. The importance of maintaining mic positions, precautions we take to prevent accidents, or the flexibility to troubleshoot during a live show is all so important to the sonic world we create in the department and to the holistic illusion in the show. These minute, often overlooked aspects of the operation were something I never considered much as a sound designer in my work, but they are all-important before we do our magic to create the sounds you hear as the audience.
What was your favourite part of this internship?
I was very lucky to have a very accommodating group of people backstage to take care of me and so patiently answer all my questions in the past three and a half months. Everyone was very willing to show me their work with honesty and sincerity, even with the tough bits. It could be a very stressful working environment and it is not always easy with such repetitive tasks. But it could also be so rewarding when something happened out of the blue and you were able to fix it without causing any trouble, even if it is just giving a cast member a piece of mic tape when needed.
Thank you to the company and especially to the sound department (and automation with whom they share an office!) for having me around and teaching me about the whole schtick. I am very grateful and will take the knowledge elsewhere and continue my journey in the industry.
What advice would you give to someone starting an offstage internship?
Go for it! An internship is the perfect stepping stone into the industry when you haven't already got the connection in West End, and the perfect way to find out if this is what you want to pursue professionally. I have received so much help and advice in setting up my career that I couldn't have been more lucky to be chosen. It also provided me with the experience to start working as a dep backstage straight out of it on different shows, which is great!
What are you doing in the photo?
In the picture, I was putting batteries into the wet mic packs for the rig check in the morning. This is a routine every day to make sure everything works the way it should before the show goes on. It is important we check them thoroughly, especially on such a technically complicated show as many things could go wrong.