Every seven years the small Swiss monastery town of Einsiedeln turns itself over to a large-scale open-air production of Calderón’s Weltteater. A modern re-work was written for the summer of 2013, and to fully support the scale and complexities of the piece, sound design was again put in the capable hands of award-winning Tom Strebel of Basel’s audiopool, using the ubiquitous TiMax2 SoundHub audio localisation matrix system from Out Board.
This year for the first time Strebel also used TiMax Tracker performer-tracking which controlled the TiMax SoundHub delay-matrix in real-time to achieve fully automated vocal localisation across the entire 2,700 capacity audience. Strebel comments, “For me, TiMax is now indispensible for theatre production because of the great improvement to the clarity and intelligibility of the speech. You don’t hear it when it is working, but when it’s not there the difference is uncomfortable.”
The cast and much of the behind-the-scenes support were drawn from the town and the surrounding areas. More than 300 men, women and children of the town all commited themselves to Weltteater. The production was rehearsed intensively through the Spring until June 21 st, after which those involved were required be available for the 41 performances ahead.
The town functioned as usual during the day, but in the evening the nightly performance was prepared in the area in front of the monastery, within a temporary amphitheatre with tiered seating and all the technical paraphernalia of a full theatrical production. Although stage sets were minimal there were some striking effects such as suspending six children high in the air from a construction crane. Many of the costumes were usually pretty extravagant and often bizarre.
The vast stage area was divided into a total of 19 TiMax Image Definition localisation zones: seven downstage, five midstage, three upstage and a further four band Images spread across the upper and midstage area for the musicians situated in four caravans (which also moved around..).
Performers wore the new Sennheiser digital wireless lavalier mics, loudspeakers were provided by Fohhn. Seven compact line arrays were positioned as anchors for the vocal localisation: one at the monastery door, two left and right at upstage centre, two left and right upstage wide and a further two at the left and right upstage very wide locations. Seven pairs of smaller boxes were positioned in the seating tribunes for the lower audience area and a further seven pairs for the upper audience, with each block of seating having its own left and right focussing delay pair. The rear of the tribunes were serviced by another pair of left and right surrounds, whilst beneath the seats sat several distributed subbass cabinets.
Thomas Strebel explained the importance of TiMax driven sound-system; “In the theatre , you can work with light to pinpoint people. Here, the performances are in June and July and it is not yet dark. Therefore, it is very important that actor’s voices appear to come from the right direction, otherwise it is too difficult to understand what is happening on a big stage.”
Out Board’s Robin Whittaker, who conceived the distributed speaker system design and was on site to assist with alignment and tuning, concluded, “ "TiMax all worked very well. We did this with manually-cued delay-imaging seven years ago and the producers loved it, so it was great to return again with the new TiMax2 SoundHub, and this time with TiMax Tracker automation to make it even better"