Colleen Hammond | Opinions Editor
Gentle humming faded through the air as actors in muted-colored costumes darted in and out of a small greenroom. Peter Brucker sang to himself as he began his day with the intimate process of attaching the actors’ microphones.
Brucker, a sound design student at Point Park University, spends his days behind the scenes at a variety of Pittsburgh theater productions. From classical plays to rock’n’roll, Brucker has mastered the sound of it all.
His current job as an A1 sound mixer for Point Park’s production of Much Ado About Nothing keeps him on his toes for the whole show.
He admitted that mixing Much Ado is akin to a game of whack-a-mole. Some actors have booming voices that are easily heard by the audience while others struggle more to project their voices.
As an A1, Brucker operates the sound board and actively mixes the sound on stage to ensure every actor is heard despite their dynamic differences.
His job proves vital to the performance as his colleagues deem Brucker “the man behind the steering wheel.”
Brucker guides the production with the intensity and precision of an air traffic controller. His laser focus can be spotted from the stage as he remains carefully hidden in the sound booth at the top of the PNC Theater.
Although Brucker did not design the sound for this show, he takes great delight in his work as an A1 operator. He described his relationship to designers as that of a painter.
“Braden [the designer] gives me the paints, and I still have to paint the canvas” said Brucker.
While Brucker primarily works in live theater, he also has a variety of other ventures. His roommate turned creative partner, Anthony Giacola has paired up with Brucker to write, cast, direct, design, produce and edit an original narrative podcast called Habitat. The dynamic duo met during their freshman year of college and eventually discovered a mutual love for fiction and mystery.
The idea for Habitat originally came about as Dungeons and Dragons campaign created by Brucker. With some workshopping, refining and help from Giacola, the two wrote the first season of the podcast and are currently in production of the first few episodes.
Giacola smiled when he spoke about Brucker’s creative capabilities and said, “Peter made it happen.”
Brucker’s reputation of “making things happen” does not stop with his work with Giacola. In addition to his podcast and work on theatrical productions across Pittsburgh, Brucker has vast musical talents as well.
As a teenager, Brucker spent many evenings playing Guitar Hero with his friends. Eventually, one of those friends suggested that he learn to play a real guitar. Brucker picked up the guitar and loved it. His musical ability grew so quickly that he soon joined an alternative rock band called Northern Vibe.
Because Northern Vibe self-produced their music, Brucker found himself learning the ropes of sound production. He then paired his newfound skills with his lifelong passion for technical, hands on work. After some soul searching and a conversation with his brother, Brucker decided to pursue higher education for sound design and production.
Brucker loves his work because “your artistry doesn’t have to end with your instrument.” He views sound mixing as “playing a performance.” The actors are his instruments, and can tune and play them however he chooses.
Brucker’s ambition and high level of skill astonish both his peers and educators.
High praise for Brucker came from his fellow students. Eric Sprosty, former assistant stage manager of the national tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and current Point Park students called Brucker “an inspiration, especially as an older student.”
Brucker’s talent is hard to surpass, but he views himself as a lifelong learner. His humility and eagerness to work set him apart from every other face in the theater. Brucker constantly seeks out new projects to expand his skillset. He is perpetually hunting for new tools to add to his repertoire.
Despite Brucker’s success, he never reviews himself as above any type of work. He remains eager to help however he can and learns from every experience. Although elementary to him, Brucker takes great pride in the simple task of putting microphones in actors. His gentle humming puts the actors at ease as he repeats his daily cycle as the man behind the steering wheel of each show he works on.