A New Sound from the Professional Training Company

by on October 6, 2017

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Dwaine Jihaad (appropriately nicknamed DJ) Potts is the first Sound Apprentice in the 46-year history of the Professional Training Company.* But DJ is no stranger to blazing his own trail; it’s what brought him to Actors Theatre in the first place. A technical theatre student from Western Michigan University, Potts was on the ground floor […]

A New Sound from the Professional Training Company

Dwaine Jihaad (appropriately nicknamed DJ) Potts is the first Sound Apprentice in the 46-year history of the Professional Training Company.* But DJ is no stranger to blazing his own trail; it’s what brought him to Actors Theatre in the first place. A technical theatre student from Western Michigan University, Potts was on the ground floor as the sound designer for several plays in their Activate Midwest New Play Festival, following them all the way to Chicago Dramatists. And with Actors’ reputation for building and defining the future of American theatre, taking an apprenticeship here seemed like a perfect fit. “To be at the forefront of new work, to be a part of the new voices of theatre, that’s very exciting,” he said. “Classic plays are classic for a reason. But to really be a vehicle for change, theatre has to reflect life as it is now.”

As a member of the Professional Training Company, DJ has the chance to add his sound to the symphony of new work this group produces every season. He’s especially drawn to the way that both the New Play Projects and the Solo Mio Series this season explore identity, a topic dear to DJ’s heart, and a critical part of how he understands the role of theatre in his own life. “Growing up with interests that aren’t stereotypical of African-American men, I always stood out. And that could be very alienating,” he said. He remarks that even to this day, it can be a struggle to find the community that comes with being tied to a specific identity. “As I get older I realize that my interests aren’t solely what define who I am as a person and what I’m all about.”

The first new play of the PTC season, MJ Kaufman’s Identity’s a Box of Chocolates, explored how your identity can change (and was, thrillingly for any DJ, set in a record store). The second new play, Six by Idris Goodwin, shares similar themes, said DJ, but it’s a new challenge entirely. And while very exciting, creating the mold for a play that’s never before been performed alongside the playwright has its pros and cons. “It’s all about figuring out what the sound is that moves these people from world to world, how they behave differently in each, and putting it together.” And when you’re working with a playwright who just so happens to also be a musician, the stakes get that much higher. After listening to Goodwin’s work for the past couple of weeks, DJ’s anticipation for working with him has grown exponentially. “I’m mostly looking forward to finding out if Idris enjoys my taste in music! Because I definitely enjoy his.”

Like all the Professional Training Company Apprentices, the next step is never far from DJ’s mind. When asked about it, the answer comes almost immediately: “I want to start my own theatre company in Chicago,” he said with a grin. His answer is direct, but almost surprised, like it hasn’t yet been said out loud so many times that it’s lost its wonder. His theatre company is going to explore the voices and sounds of today as it creates and redefines the idea of identity and what it means to belong to a particular group.

“I just want to communicate that it’s ok to be 100% who you are–whether you like anime and ‘nerd stuff’ or trap music, none of that should define how people treat you. You are deserving of respect and dignity,” he said. With voices like DJ’s speaking out, the future of theatre sounds pretty sweet.

Six by Idris Goodwin runs October 16&17 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at The Green Building on 732 East Market Street. Reserve your FREE tickets today.

*[EDIT: While DJ is technically the first Sound Apprentice, Actors Theatre has supported Sound Interns in the past.]

Actors Theater of Louisville
316 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Box Office: 502.584.1205
502.371.0956 TDD

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