When asked how long he’s loved sound, Greg Hanson likes to say, “Always.”
And then he wants to tell you about Pyrotechnics.
“I really started into audio when I was 12 and trying to document my band, Pyrotechnics. I was using some freeware I’d found online and a microphone from the video game Rock Band set on top of cardboard boxes in my parent’s garage. It was all trial and error, but it taught me about placement and balance, and it turned out I had a knack for it.”
Greg Hanson is a consultant at Theatre Projects on the Performance Sound, Video, and Communications team. He has been here a little over a year and brings to the firm a true fascination with sound.
A fascination. Not a professional interest in, not a strong relationship to, but a fascination with curating aural experiences—with elevating art and transporting audiences.
From his parent’s garage through years of self-education, building community, and picking up cheap gear online (notably, a Mackie VLZ 24-channel analog desk and 100-foot snake from a member of a No Doubt cover band called No Duh), Greg explored space-making and the art of finding a workable solution regardless of gear or environment.
His first “formal” audio education came at the storied sound program at CSU Monterey Bay. From there to grad school at NYU to his time at the Pompidou Center in Paris, Greg became adept at working on any type of project in any type of venue.
“In undergrad, we were working in the university’s black box cabaret space, across campus producing everybody’s events, and for the World Theater, the university’s largest venue. I’d get in early just to reconfigure all the gear and experiment with new arrangements of components or new ways to get the sound just the way I wanted it, and then I’d stay late to restore it all at the end of the night.
“We spent a lot of time answering the call for any group that needed sound. That helped a lot when I moved to NYC and was working in all types of venues around the city.”
Some of these DIY gigs paid in free beer after load-out, but the gigs became increasingly established. Eventually, through an industry friend, Greg came to work in the space where he’d spend some of his most creative and beloved years.
The McKittrick Hotel hired Greg to work their rooftop brunch series. “I had no idea what was happening in the space beneath me. I’d never seen Sleep No More and had no sense of their larger events and concerts. I’d seen some immersive theatre, but I was not what you’d call a theatre kid growing up.”
But little by little, Greg’s flexibility and experience finding impossible solutions in desperate situations impressed the team, and inside of a year, he was the head of audio for the entire institution.
“I was the youngest person there, but it was amazing. You’d bounce back and forth from creating environmental audio for a wedding, to mixing a Mumford & Sons show, to upgrading gear for our six-story immersive version of M*cbeth, to advancing for Ed Sheeran. And, all the while, you were surrounded by awesome people. People who wanted to make extraordinary art happen and who weren’t afraid to throw lots of things against the wall to see what would stick.”
But after eight years of blissful chaos, Greg felt like it was time for a change.
“I’d heard about Theatre Projects a few years before I came here. It had always seemed like an industry I’d do well in
“It was just this convergence of everything I love and know how to do. I love the range of clients and spaces. I love finding the best fit for an organization’s venue and budget. I love the on-the-ground setup and trouble-shooting. I love leaving a perfect space before their first show starts.”
Even with the transition into consulting, Greg hasn’t slowed down outside of Theatre Projects. Producing albums, helping out anytime the community at McKittrick needs a hand, designing the hugely successful NightWood installation at the Mount in Lenox, MA—it keeps his capacity growing and envelops him, time and again, in new spaces, new systems, and new audiences.
“Any way I can be around the performing arts and live shows, I’m there. I think it all comes down to production value and influencing experiences, and I always want to give people a chance to be somewhere else. Even the most cynical of event attendees can’t help but be moved a little when you’ve done everything right.”