Wyatt Waage, a theatre major with a psychology minor from Vermillion, SD and Northwestern theatre department’s resident sound design extraordinaire, will be graduating this spring after an incredible four years. Throughout Waage’s career, he was able to assist in sound and projections designs, as well as head several of his own sound designs and serve as a stage manager.
Waage wasn’t always a master theatre artist, however. Like everyone, he started small—really small. His first interaction with theatre came at a very young age when the Dakota Players, a touring children’s theatre company, visited his hometown of Vermillion and put on a children’s musical with students in a week, casting the show from the children and teaching them all the lines, songs and choreography.
In high school, Waage switched to the technical side of theatre after being assigned the role of sound designer which sparked his love for the craft. He was shocked to learn that in the role of a sound designer he could engage with his love of audio while also partaking in theater. From that point, Waage went on to design for almost every production for the rest of his high school career as well as stage managing a few times. “I just knew technical theatre was where I was supposed to be,” he explained.
When high school graduation came, Waage new he didn’t want to attend his hometown’s school, University of South Dakota. “I wanted somewhere where I could be myself,” Waage said. “To just be in a more healthy environment that would encourage me to grow as an individual but also as a Christian.” An older friend from high school attended NW, so Waage decided to visit and eventually fell in love with the school.
Waage’s first production role at NW was assisting an upperclassman with her sound design for the children’s show “Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook.” In this production, Waage learned a lot about the specifics of editing sound on programs like Adobe Audition, and these skills were incredibly foundational to his success in subsequent designs. The next year, Waage worked on his first solo sound design for the children’s show “Jonah and the Giant Fish” which he would eventually enter in the regional category for sound design at KCACTF, a regional theatre conference NW attends annually. To his shock, Waage won first place. Waage remembers feeling “so overwhelmed and so happy” to receive the honor and describes it as, “an affirmation that this is where I’m called to be.”
From then on, Waage continued to grow as an artist working his junior year as stage manager for “Love’s Labor’s Lost” and sound designer for “Eurydice.” This year he was the sound designer and sound engineer for “Little Shop of Horrors,” directed his first production through the one-acts class and will be one of two foley sound artists for this spring’s production of “The Cherry Orchard.”
In January, Waage’s detailed and bold sound design for last spring’s production, “Eurydice,” was celebrated this time by being awarded the national recognition for sound design at KCACTF. For this honor Waage will represent his region (eight midwestern states) and NW in sound design at the national KCACTF festival this spring. “It was a really good affirmation that this department has prepared me to go out and do art, theatre…whatever I do next,” Waage said. “I have learned and grown so much.”
After graduation, Waage admits that he is not quite sure what he will do. One possibility for him would be becoming a professor of technical theater, requiring him to get his terminal degree: a Master of Fine Arts in sound design. He is currently looking at theater and technical jobs in the area since his home and family is very important to him. One job he would love to have is to help with sound mixing at a church because he loves to worship God through this. One thing is certain, whatever Waage does with his future, he will certainly achieve great things.