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True Love Gets All Wet

Thomas H. Freeman • Answer Box • November 5, 2007

Love, death, poetry and a pool of water contend with wireless mics in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

Moisture of any type can be the kiss of death to electronic equipment. Unfortunately, the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park summer production of Romeo and Juliet in New York’s Central Park included a pool that, while only a few inches deep, was 30 feet in diameter. Tom Clark, of New York’s Acme Sound Partners LLC, whose firm provides theatrical sound design services for plays and musicals, was tasked with finding a way to keep the actors’ wireless gear working while being submerged in this pool.

According to Clark, “With the frequent fighting and death that takes place during the performance, several of the principal actors found themselves on their backs or face-down in the water. For this reason, we needed to ensure that the wireless microphones were protected and capable of surviving this situation. In my research, we discovered the Lectrosonics MM400C wireless transmitter.”

The Lectrosonics MM400C Water-Resistant Digital Hybrid Wireless Miniature Transmitters were placed in Ziploc plastic bags and attached to elastic belts, which were then placed around the actor’s ribcage with the transmitter on their back. For some of the actresses, the wardrobe department worked with Clark and the other audio professionals on-site to ensure the mics optimal performance while remaining hidden within the costumes.

In all, 10 wireless channels were assigned to the gear. Since the principals in the play were the ones who found themselves in deep water, they were all equipped with the MM400C transmitters. Equipment for the production was supplied by Masque Sound.

The Lectrosonics Venue Modular Receiver System was deployed to acquire signal from the transmitters. The 1RU rackmountable Venue system is a modular UHF design that operates with Digital Hybrid Wireless transmitters and a variety of analog transmitters. It consists of a Venue Receiver Master (VRM) and one to six plug-in receiver modules. The entire 10-channel Lectrosonics wireless system occupied only two rackspaces in the equipment rack.

“Throughout the entire month Romeo and Juliet ran, not once did we encounter a single hiccup from any of the Lectrosonics equipment,” says Clark. “These transmitters enabled the director’s vision of this production to be realized.”
 
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