Who: Joe Payne is an assistant professor of sound and digital media in the Department of Theatre. He also works on sound effects and live reinforcement (microphones and other amplification technologies) for Clarence Brown Theatre productions. He composes music for some of the plays, including the recent production of The Crucible. He also does projection design, which is the growing trend of using digital imagery in theatrical productions. Examples include everything from holograms to the flying ghosts projected onto the stage in last year’s CBT production of A Christmas Carol.
About him: Payne was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, in a family of performers. His parents met at music camp and his dad used to write music for Donny and Marie Osmond. Brother Joshua is a jazz musician in Los Angeles, brother Sam is a storyteller and musician, brother Dave teaches rock and roll in Salt Lake City, and sister Wrenne is a pop star in London. Carrying on the family tradition, Payne’s children are honing their talents at the School of Rock in Knoxville; his daughter, 12, plays bass, and his son, 10, plays drums.
Payne came to UT in 2011 after working as a theater sound designer in Salt Lake City and teaching at the University of Utah and Illinois State University. He has designed sound, projections, and composed music for more than 150 productions in theaters across the country. He also designed projections for Wrenne’s international I Said Yes to Everything tour.
About his office: “My cohorts in the Department of Theatre call this my Man Cave,” he said of his office on the first floor of McClung Tower.
A musical keyboard, his computer, a music stand, microphone, and some nice studio speakers are arranged in a small alcove to create a mini recording studio. Rugs on the walls provide “an inexpensive and stylish way of deadening the acoustics for recording sessions,” Payne said.
Three guitars hang on the wall. One is from last year’s CBT production of Hank Williams: Lost Highway, another is an acoustic bass (which he plays), and the third is a junk guitar he bought and painted as artwork. There’s a dgembe, a West African drum, which doubles as a coffee table, and a small musical instrument—name unknown—that resembles a one-octave hanging xylophone.
His shelves hold a couple of old film projectors, a couple of old reel-to-reel players, and a short stack of old one-sided record albums.
Favorite mementos: Several welded sculptures he made while studying graphic design as an undergrad at Weber State University in Utah. “I̍ have always been a closet graphic designer,” he said.