Tonys: 'The Encounter' Sound Designers Tapped for Special Honor

At the last ceremony before the return of the two sound design awards next year, Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin will receive special recognition for their work on the play.
Tristram Kenton
Simon McBurney in 'The Encounter'

Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, the sound designers of Simon McBurney's one-man play The Encounter, which ran on Broadway from last September through January, will receive a Special Tony Award in recognition of their work on that production, the Tony Awards Administration Committee announced Monday.

"Gareth and Pete take the audience on a journey in The Encounter that is infused by the intimacy of sound, and the intricacies of that involvement were executed beautifully. They have created another dimension of the live theatrical experience, and we are thrilled to honor their work," Heather Hitchens, president of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a release.

The announcement comes a week after another revealed that the best sound design of a play and best sound design of a musical Tony Awards, which were created in 2008 and then eliminated in 2014, will be revived at the 2018 Tonys. The committee clearly felt that, without that honor in place for the 2017 Tonys, some other sort of recognition ought to be given to The Encounter, in which sound played a crucial part and audiences experienced the story's entire Amazon rainforest journey through specially designed individual headsets.

The Encounter currently is playing its final U.S. engagement at the Curran in San Francisco, with performances running through Sunday.

Fry is best known for creating work for leading U.K. theater directors such as McBurney, John Tiffany, Sacha Wares and Katie Mitchell. He is a three-time Olivier Award winner for best sound design, most recently for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, who has worked with McBurney's company Complicite since 1999. Fry spent five years working with McBurney on the creation of The Encounter. He also is is the chairman of the Association of Sound Designers, and his work includes over 20 productions at the Royal National Theatre, over a dozen at the Royal Court and countless more at venues such as the Donmar Warehouse, the Old Vic, the Young Vic and in the West End. Fry was also part of Danny Boyle's creative team for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Malkin has worked extensively with Complicite and McBurney, most recently at the Royal Court on the stage production of Robert Evans' The Kid Stays in the Picture. He also worked as associate sound designer for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is now playing in London’s West End before hitting Broadway next spring. Malkin's work on Phyllida Lloyd’s The Tempest was seen earlier this year at St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. In 2016, he won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for best design alongside Fry for their work on The Encounter. Malkin's wide range of U.K. and international experience extends to work with The Royal Court, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Lyric Hammersmith, The Royal Exchange Theatre and with companies such as Berlin’s Schaubühne Theatre, Headlong and 59 Productions.