Art & Science collide: Let’s go behind the scenes with Roberto Soto

single-meta-cal November 22, 2017

‘Art & Science Collide’ celebrates the yin and yang of stimulating the left and right sides of our brains,  fostering a more holistic, creative, and innovative community.  City Blog wanted to meet some folks who are part of both worlds – engineers and scientists with the soul of artists, or maybe it’s artists with the brains of engineers. 

Name: Roberto Soto

Age:  45

From: Miami

Family: Wife Beth, children Robert, Morgan, and Emma

Next performance: Working backstage on the upcoming performance of “A Christmas Carol”

Some of the best tech in a show is transparent to the actors and the audience. The tech adds to the experience of the audience but the tech is not the point.”

In the art world: “I help with technical tasks behind the scenes. In ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Steven Berry and I automated the two smaller turntables that are used in the show. Automation provides a more consistent action so that the movements don’t cause distractions for the performers or the audience as sometimes occurred when they were manually operated.

More often we help with a set piece or prop that needs to have a light inside it or some other practical effect where a little technology adds to the performance as a whole.”

In the engineering world: Director of Electrical Engineering

What fueled your passion for the art world? “Ever since I was a child I wanted to be involved in special effects. My brother and I would make movies with our father’s 8 mm film camera attempting to create certain special effects. Later, friends and I made various attempts at special effects using VHS video cameras.

More recently, my children’s involvement with Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater has led me to become involved in theater tech.”

How do you see the two worlds blending together? “The two worlds don’t really blend for me. Nobody is coming to a show to see a motor control system or some gadget we put together. In the theater, the technology is only used to enhance the work of the actors.

Some of the best tech in a show is transparent to the actors and the audience. The tech adds to the experience of the audience, but the tech is not the point. In engineering, the technology is there for its own sake. It’s the focus. It is the complete opposite of the theater experience.”

An inside story: “In the above photo, my daughter Morgan is learning the ropes at the turntable control station for ‘A Christmas Carol.’ The tech crew has a running joke that a mustache makes you invisible to the audience. Each year we have one performance where we all wear fake mustaches to make us invisible. You don’t get that kind of behavior in an engineering lab…”

For more information on how arts and culture affect our community’s pulse and quality of life, connect with Arts Huntsville. The non-profit’s mission is to encourage community creativity and engagement in the arts through community events, public art, arts education initiatives, and member promotion and support.