A Dundee-born sound designer has said he is “astounded” after scooping up a gong at a prestigious American theatre awards ceremony.
Christopher Reid won the sound design accolade, alongside Paul Arditti, for the The Inheritance at Saturday’s Drama Desk Awards.
The awards, which have been running since 1955, celebrate the best of Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off Broadway.
Christopher, who grew up in the Downfield area of the city, said he was thrilled to see his work acknowledged at the virtual ceremony.
The 36-year-old said: “It’s quite amazing actually. It’s one of those things where you’re kind of left speechless.
“Nobody that works in theatre is doing it for the awards but when they come it’s just astounding to receive that recognition, especially from people within your own industry.
“We weren’t really thinking about it because we were nominated for an Olivier for the same production last year, and we lost out to a musical.
“But in the Drama Desk Awards, there are separate categories for plays and musicals. My feeling was that it was lovely to, once more, be nominated – especially in New York – but I wasn’t really anticipating winning. Especially having not had a chance to see any of the other plays.
“It’s my second time working on a Broadway show, but it was my first time working as a designer.”
Christopher’s career has seen him move between continents, working on a variety of productions including King Charles III, the Black Watch, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Billy Elliot the Musical.
He also opened the original production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at London’s Palace Theatre in 2016, as head of sound.
The sound designer credits the city’s theatres for helping him discover his passion.
He said: “My granny first took me to see the Downfield Musical Society panto when I was about five and we then went every year.
“I remember being around 10 years old, asking my gran if Downfield did any other shows throughout the year.
“She took me to see Chess at the Gardyne Theatre and that was it for me. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in it, but I knew that theatre was a medium of storytelling that captivated me even at that young age.”
After joining Downfield Musical Society aged 13, Christopher got involved in the technical side of things and, by the time he was 16, he was working with the director of Dundee sound company Apex Acoustics, Paul Smith.
After completing a degree at Abertay University, he went on to work at Perth Theatre for two years as their head of sound.
Now based in London, Christopher has said that the coronavirus pandemic has had a “terrifying” impact on the theatre industry.
He said: “It’s, quite honestly, terrifying. When it all first happened, I was in Kuwait working on a dance production and we were scheduled to perform the week of March 12.
“Our performances were cancelled but we were going ahead with the tech, with a view to remounting the show later, at a different time.
“We did two dress rehearsals and at the end of the second dress rehearsal, at around 8pm at night, they sat us all down and told us that coronavirus was taking hold across the world.
“They said that they had it on reasonably good authority that the Kuwaiti government were planning to close the airport the following day.
“We did a nine-hour overnight get-out, which was originally scheduled to take three days. We started it at around 9pm at night and I walked off set at around 5am, went back to the hotel, showered, packed my bag and then headed for our flight.
“The people who are working on virtual productions are very lucky to be doing that. I’m heading towards the end of my savings and now applying for jobs at Tesco, at the age of 36, whilst at a pretty good point in my career.
“Trying to find work anywhere has been tough.
“People are losing their jobs, venues are going into insolvency and some are doing what they call mothballing, where they’re making most of their staff redundant and closing the doors to use the reserve funds to hopefully keep the venue alive.
“The difficulty is, in these performances venues, you cannot have an audience two metres apart and make enough income to cover your running costs. It’s just not feasible.
“One of the great things about our industry is that the people are resilient. As soon as we are allowed to go back to work, we will. It will take a long time to rebuild the industry because obviously we’ve got to build audience confidence in coming into venues.
“What I would say to anyone who has any sort of appreciation of theatre is take every precaution that you can – get your hand sanitiser, get your face mask – but get yourself through the door.
“We will do everything that we can to keep our industry alive but to do it in the safest way possible.”
With the world of theatre having been turned upside down by the virus, Christopher says he is remaining cautiously optimistic about what the future holds for him.
He added: “All of the productions that I had lined up are on hold until further notice. One of them is a really important piece called The Jungle, based around the lives of the people in the Calais refugee camp.
“We don’t know when it’s going to happen but we are very confident it will.”