Acoustical One-Act Play: Active & Passive Solutions

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Active Passive Product Actors[Scene: A performance venue plagued with poor acoustics, shortly after show ends. Patrons spill out of doorway onto the sidewalk, frowning, as a chill wind lifts snippets of their conversations into the night air…]

Woman #1:   “…muddy and indistinct – was that even in English?”

Man #1:  “…under the balcony I couldn’t hear a thing.…”

Woman #2:     “…too loud for my tastes and my ears…”

[Once the crowd dissipates, two shadowy figures emerge from an alley across the street, heading toward the doorway. Active charges ahead, Passive lags behind.]

Active:  Hear those complaints? We’ve got work to do! Hurry slug, before the building’s locked up!

Passive: I’m not lazy…just absorbed. Are we really going to improve the acoustics? Can’t they demolish the place and build new?

Active: No one has time or money for that!  Quick, get inside!

Passive: OK, we’re in. I’m tired already.

Active: Grab that ladder, climb the back and side walls…and hang there!

Passive: [climbing ladder] Hang here…resting? Sounds great to me… [yawns and closes eyes]

Active: This isn’t about you – but the sound the audience hears! As an acoustical banner, your fabric absorbs sound waves, reducing reverberation and tailoring the room’s acoustics to each performance! Isn’t that exciting?

Passive: [opens eyes] Excitement is overrated.

Active: Your job has its ups and downs, sure, but they’re motor-controlled. You’ll deploy quickly and quietly to a variety of lengths.

Passive: Enough about me. What’s your solution, wise guy?

Active: [excitedly] I’m going high-tech! As an active acoustic system, I’m capturing sounds onstage with my microphones, transforming them in my digital signal processing computers and playing them back through my speakers. All in real time – presto!

Passive: Don’t talk so fast…[yawns]…Sounds exhausting.

Active: It’s exhilarating – like virtual reality for the ears. My microphones and speakers are almost invisible, and my lightning-fast computer “brain” is backstage, out of sight!

Passive: Calm down already. Admit it – we’re both easier and cheaper than construction or renovation. Nice and boring.

Active: You dare call me boring? [shakes fist] Come down and say that to my face! [pushes ladder, causing Passive to crash down on top of him. Active begins throwing punches…]


Tired of the drama? For straight answers to acoustical challenges faced by performance venues, check out two Wenger solutions at USITT this week:

Passive: Transform™ Motorized Acoustical Banners supporting the
Opening Night New Product Showcase on March 18 @ 10 p.m.

Active: Transcend™ Active Acoustic System starring in
the Innovation and Stage Gallery on March 20 @ 11 a.m.

Each solution is a creative, cost-effective option for enhancing performance-space acoustics. The right choice for your venue could be one, the other, or both! For general info about performance acoustics, also see Wenger’s Planning Guide for Performance Spaces and Acoustics Primer.



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