Effective Communications Allow Disabled Performers’ Creativity to Shine
Clear-Com®, a global leader in mission-critical voice communication systems, is being used by the non-profit theatrical organization Angels on Stage to create a safe and fun environment for the group’s special performers. Angels on Stage offers children with disabilities, ages 5-22, an opportunity to perform in professional musical theatre productions. To achieve this goal, the organization has been using Clear-Com’s WBS 680 UHF Analog Wireless Intercom System for show communications since the founding of the organization. The wireless system was most recently used on the production of Disney’s Aladdin.
Established in 2007 by DeAnna Pursai as a tribute to her younger sister Angel who happens to have Down Syndrome, Angels on Stage was developed; merging special education with theater to give these unique performers a fun, judgment-free environment to express themselves creatively. Each performer, or “angel” as they are referred to by the organization, has a buddy coach that helps them with lines and entrances. Now that the performance has grown from 41 angels in the original production to 94 angels, the need for quality communication is even more evident. For many angels, this is their first theater experience so it is crucial for the stage crew to create a safe environment and to relieve the performers’ anxiety. The extra mobility that a wireless system provides was important so crew members could be with the performers. Since the first performance, Clear-Com’s WBS 680 wireless intercom system has been providing effective communications for every production.
“Clear communication with the entire staff helping guide the children is really important to a successful Angels on Stage production,” Pursai explains. “The children are going to explore the stage area. If someone does go where they do not belong or if a child has a medical issue, a member of our staff is on the Clear-Com system and is able to instantly alert someone to go and help out. It’s so reassuring to be able to use effective equipment that’s going to aid us in helping the angels stay safe and to illuminate their abilities. We really appreciate the portability of the Clear-Com wireless beltpacks as well as their effectiveness in communicating clearly.”
The tech crew and other staff members on stage are on WTR 680 wireless beltpacks. Their entire WBS system has been integrated with Clear-Com’s EncoreTM PartyLine System, which is already permanently installed at the Evergreen Valley College Theater, the venue for Aladdin. The director of the production used a MS-702 Main Station connected to the Encore system to communicate with the staff and tech crew in the booth.
For the recent Aladdin production, performers were waiting in rooms backstage prior to their entrances. This required some staff members to tend to the needs of the performers as they brought them on stage. Simultaneously, the tech crew was coordinating set changes and light cues to ensure that the show was of professional quality. By operating on a two channel system, the tech crew was able to get cues from one channel without interfering with the communication between the staff members assisting the angels and vice versa. The system also provided the ability for both groups to communicate with one another when needed. As stage manager Nina Anderson Duncan explains, being wireless is particularly helpful when handling the angels’ entrances and exits.
“I think one thing that was really helpful for me personally was to be able to be on stage with the angels dealing with anxiety or helping put the actors in place right before their cue,” Anderson Duncan explains. “With the wireless beltpacks, I could easily walk off right as the curtain was opening. The ability to be there with the children was a big relief and I think it really sets the children up for success when they feel like the staff can stay with them. We don’t have to worry about being tethered or being stuck in one position as you would with a wired intercom.”
The WBS’ frequency agility, rich feature set, audio clarity and performance reliability make it an excellent choice for live productions. It can be used as a standalone wireless communication system or combined with wired intercoms, making it adaptable to any setup. WBS Systems operate in select frequency bands between 470-686MHz.
Found as the communications backbone in theaters, schools, local broadcast stations, churches and productions around the world, Clear-Com’s Encore analog party-line systems are an industry standard. This platform provides an intuitive plug-and-play design, superior audio clarity and reliable communication technology for the most demanding applications. Clear-Com Encore™ Party-line System offers unsurpassed 2-wire, group communication capabilities.