Birds chirp outside your window. A dog barks, maybe 75 yards away. Firetrucks scream a mile off. Jeff Ladman can replicate this moment on a stage. Sound design is one of the least understood jobs in theater. Most people think it's just the flashy thunderstorms or street noises in the background. But sound is most concerned with how well you hear the play, from every inch of the stage, every seat in the house. Sound also includes music -- score and background -- and some of the best sound effects are like a tuba in an orchestra: more felt than heard. He's been called "an artist," "the Santa Claus of San Diego sound design," "a true sonic gnome," and "curator of the jukebox at Nunu's" (the local actors' bar on upper Fifth). He worked at the Old Globe for 12 years, he's enhanced productions of our most experimental theaters, and, says a fan, "he's given help to every sound designer who's ever sought him out."