The Williamsburg Players in Virginia is a community theater group currently in its 56th season. Recently, they built an add-on to house a new and much larger performance area. Without acoustical treatment, however, reverberation and echo built up and made it difficult for people in the middle of the theater to understand what the actors were saying.
Halfway through the Williamsburg Players’ first season in their new theater, Treasurer and Director Peter Natale knew that something had to be done:
“The people on the side, front, and back of the building could hear fine, but the people in the middle could hear nothing. We tried to improvise and made our own panels out of foam board and fabric, but it was much too little, too late”.
Peter and the rest of the production crew working on the upcoming play ‘Curtains’ desperately wanted the problem to be solved in time for the rehearsals and opening. Suffering through another round of performances with subpar acoustics would not be pleasant.
Peter called Acoustical Solutions and spoke with Architectural Rep Gary Hudson about the theater’s noise problem.
Peter and the rest of the players were right in assuming the theater needed sound absorbing acoustic panels, but unfortunately foam board is not very effective at absorbing large amounts of sound and will do almost nothing when used so sparingly, and in such a large space.
Hudson recommended the theater invest in two-inch-thick professional panels, like Acoustical Solutions’ AlphaSorb® Acoustic Panels, which are custom made in a variety of sizes and colors.
To obtain the best results, AlphaSorb® Acoustic Panels were installed along the back and side walls, so no large flat surfaces would remain exposed. This stopped sound energy from reverberating throughout the room and creating echo which muffles speech.
Peter designed a creative color scheme for the theater’s acoustical panels:
“We made the lower panels, which are closer to the audience, black so they are not distracting. The upper panels were made in three shades of red, gradually brightening as they move toward the back of the theater. I had to argue to get a little color in here, but I think it’s just what the theater needs”.
The panel installation took less than two days, and upon completion there was an immediate, noticeable difference.
“This looks really good”, said Peter when he walked into the finished room. He shouted a few times, demonstrating his power of projection: “This sounds really good, too!”