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Artist Spotlight

Five Friday Questions with Matt Starritt

Matt Starritt is a Seattle-based freelance sound designer for theatre and dance. He just finished a run of three consecutive shows at the Rep's Leo K. Theatre as part of a design supergroup. [Check out our coverage of the run: The Vaudevillians, Dear Elizabeth and Lizard Boy.] You might have also heard his stellar work for the Intiman’s Angels in America, which was subtle, decisive and flawless.

Starritt’s done sound design for just about every major theatre house in Seattle as well for drag artists like Waxie Moon, BenDeLaCrème and The Cherdonna and Lou Show. He’s a part-time lecturer for the UW’s School of Drama and was a founding member of Washington Ensemble Theatre. His dog, Rocket, is something of a local theatre veteran as well.

Starritt is currently working on Book-It’s eagerly anticipated Slaughterhouse-Five. He joined me for this week’s installment of Five Friday Questions.

What’s the best performance you’ve seen lately?
I was absolutely blown away by Ahamefule Oluo’s Now I’m Fine, which was at On the Boards in December. [Ed: we have reached a 5 Fri Q consensus on this show, which will be staged at The Moore next April! Check out my interview with Aham about it here.] It was like nothing I’d ever seen before; an amazing blend of storytelling and music. The musical instrumentation and arrangement was incredible. The interplay between the band, the string section, Soulchilde’s voice and Aham’s stories was super well-balanced. Theatrically honest. Delightfully easy to watch. There were so many amazing performers up there on stage, and I was stunned by how generous everyone was able to be with each other. 

What’s the best meal in Seattle?
Well, I love to cook. And with the weather as nice as it is, it’s pretty hard to beat our porch. Friends, drinks, meatballs. What could be better? Also, I’m a little obsessed with the pizza and beer at Masonry in Queen Anne

What music gets you pumped up? What do you listen to when you’re sad?
I just designed an Irish show at the Rep, and I went back through some Irish music. I think it’d been five years (the last Irish show I designed there) since I listened to The Pogues album, Rum, Sodomy and The Lash, and I’d forgotten how good it is. Both for getting pumped up or while you are sad. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Talking Heads. I think because I heard a cover somewhere and a little bit of it got stuck in my head. I spent a while trying to figure out which song it was, then just left the dial there. 

What’s the most crucial element of any production?
Well, the sound of course! Seriously, though, I do think that it’s really important that everyone starts and ends on the same page. There’s nothing worse than watching a production where everyone is working on a different version of the show. When the lights and sound don’t talk to each other, and the costumes and scenery live in a different worlds. On the other hand, it’s spectacular when everything is meshing really well and a totally new cohesive theatrical world is born. 

What’s the most useful thing anyone’s ever taught you about working in theatre?
I think Rich [Bresnahan] mentioned this last week, but being good to work with goes a really, really long way. Theatre is hard anyway for a lot of reasons, so being a collaborative and generous member of the team might actually be the most important thing. 

See Starritt’s work in Book-it’s Slaughterhouse-Five June 9 through July 3 and at the Intiman Summer Festival 2015.

Photo credit © LaRae Lobdell.