Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Gardner.
Jeff, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I’m a third-generation Dodger Blue Angeleno, middle child, obsessed with music and movies. I was always performing or finding an outlet as a kid. When I wasn’t watching Silly Symphonies and Warner Brothers cartoons or listening to Dr. Demento, I would be captivated in front of the radio, listening to old time radio dramas.
I started acting in plays at the age of 13 and knew I would always end up in the world of theatre. I attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts where I studied theatre; the Greeks, Commedia dell’arte, Chekhov, Moliere, Shakespeare. While I was there, I stumbled upon a Radio Theatre class. There I learned the importance of sound as a story-telling device. We learned how to write, produce and create ‘theatre of the mind’. I loved it so much, after graduation I started a radio theatre company with my acting friends. We recorded dozens of plays, acting in them as well as creating all the sound effects for broadcast on KCLA 99.3 FM.
I spent the next several years working regionally as an actor, performing all over the country, including a tour with the Kennedy Center performing in Little Women. When the tour ended, I decided I was ready to go back to Los Angeles and continue my focus on Radio Theatre and sound, so I enrolled into an audio engineering program.
It was there I was able to get the tools I needed to devise more of my own work. I set up a challenge for myself to create and perform a one-man solo show that would utilize my new skills. The focus would be to create a story with no spoken word; a beginning, middle and end that would be told entirely through physical movement and recorded sound. That show enabled me to dive further in my work as a sound designer.
I think of myself as a theatre artist. Some people know me as an actor, some know me as a sound designer, and others as a foley ‘sound effects’ artist. All of these are very fluid for me. I go back and forth between them and have been fortunate to make a living at all of them. Each discipline has helped me gain a better understanding of the other.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As a sound designer, my job is to create and enhance the aural universe of the play. This includes everything in the environment that could be used to establish time, location and atmosphere. A lot of what I do is collaborate with the director and the rest of the design team in finding the musicality, tone and sounds of the piece. I mine the play the same way I would as an actor, hearing the story several times looking for answers.
As a foley ‘sound effects’ artist, I create sound effects for plays and radio. One of the companies I work for is L.A. Theatre Works. Their mission is to record and preserve performances of important stage plays, making theatre accessible to the widest possible audience. I’ve performed sound effects on over 50 LATW recordings. My work is ‘live’ and can be seen, as well as heard throughout the show. I have a foley table area with an assortment of odd props on it, making all kinds of weird and wonderful sounds. I create everything in real-time, from ringing telephones and slamming doors to rustling clothing and walking in high heels.
I love it when the audience takes the opportunity to close their eyes and ‘listen’ to the play. It is here that the imagery is created. I may perform a sequence where two men are fighting inside someone’s home. You can hear the scuffle, a lamp breaking, and furniture being shoved around. If you ask the audience what the fight looked like and what furniture was being pushed around, it might be different for each audience member.
For me, performing sound effects acts as a bridge between what I do as a sound designer and an actor. The tension of being exact every time is thrilling! It’s a live medium so I can enjoy the adventure of telling the story with the rest of the ensemble.
When I’m sound designing a show, I use ‘live’ as well as pre-recorded sound effects to help create the environment. When a play calls for the actors’ to create the ‘live’ sound elements, I search for the right props and instruments to help create this landscape. I love what I do, utilizing the entire theater space. This is my playground, one that both the ensemble and audience can hear, as well as experience.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
You can see and hear my foley ‘sound effects’ work live at LA Theatre Works throughout the year, where we perform at the James Bridges Theatre (UCLA). The broadcast airs weekly on KPFK-FM (90.7). https://latw.org
My sound design work can be heard at theatres all over Los Angeles; Echo Theater Company, Antaeus Theatre Company, IAMA Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse and A Noise Within.
- Address: 1225 Cypress Ave
- Website: www.jeffthomasgardner.net
- Phone: 323-316-7483
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: iseesoundjeff
- Twitter: @mrjefferson3