Theatre Arts & Dance Welcomes New Theatre Faculty, Fred Kennedy

"I’m really amazed and excited about the level of engagement and creativity that’s all around this campus and the city."

1). What was your most valuable course during your undergraduate studies?

Less of a traditional course, per se, but my individual, one-on-one lessons with jazz drummer and teacher Ed Soph over several years of undergrad made an enormous impact on me. Ed did not suffer fools, so I quickly learned to come prepared. And he really taught me to listen deeply, and most importantly, to teach myself. To ask myself the insightful questions and not wait for any teacher to give me a “correct” answer. As far as traditional courses go, I think my freshman Introduction to Theater course, which I took back-to-back with Music Appreciation, was an amazing one-two punch of art practice.

2). What has been your favorite production to produce and does it differ from your most rewarding production to produce?

This is a tough one, but truth be told, some of the most rewarding pieces I’ve ever worked on were as a student, where it was really a high-stakes/ low-risk situation, meaning the goal was definitely high artistic achievement, but without the concerns of a producer worried about losing money on a show. Thinking specifically of student versions of Alice in Wonderland and Trojan Women, as well as my own show Collisions. It’s amazing to have that freedom. Professionally, one really special project recently was Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, directed by Carl Cofield. First produced at Yale Repertory Theater, and then just remounted by Classical Theater of Harlem, this version of the play is a wild Afro-Futurist joyride of music and dance and projections. Just a gift to be part of it.  

 3). What has the pandemic forced you to learn about sound design that you will bring with you into a post-pandemic world?

To listen more deeply. I spent a lot of time walking and recording nature and just life around my place in Connecticut early in the pandemic. All of that became a way to weather the mental stress of the pandemic, sure, but it also showed up directly in my work, where I found myself way more aware of space and breath and texture. Also, when no one can go to the theater, they can still listen to audio plays! So, my skills at telling complete stories solely through sound got an enormous workout.

 4). What are you most looking forward to about working at the University of Minnesota?

My colleagues and the students in TAD and the wider University! I literally just moved here from the NY metropolitan area, where I’ve been based for the past twenty years, and I’m really amazed and excited about the level of engagement and creativity that’s all around this campus and the city.

5). What courses do you currently teach?

This semester I’m teaching TH 3559 Introduction to Sound Design for the Theater, a super-fun crash course in all things theatrical sound design, with lots of listening and hands-on making and sharing of projects, and TH 8510 Professional Design Workshop, a weekly roundtable and career-development class for the cohort of MFA design students. I’m also teaching a small directed-study class, TH 8950 Special Topics with the three current MFAs who are focused on sound. That class is a weekly small group discussion focused on compositional practice for theater sound design.  

Share on: