Playshop raises curtain on new sound system for hearing-impaired
A new sound system installed at the Wilton Playshop will make it easier for those with hearing loss to enjoy shows.
The loop amplification system allows audience members with a telecoil to hear what’s on the stage more clearly than hearing aids without one. A telecoil allows electromagnetic signals to reach listeners through their hearing aids.
“There are people who would come to the theater with regular hearing aids and do beautifully,” said Alan Gould, longtime Playshop member and Looping Project chairman. “But they have to contend with noises outside of the dialogue, such as rustling and movement, and other background noises.
“The loop system is designed for modern hearing aids to pick up the play. They get a clear picture of the dialogue. They’ll hear anything that comes through the microphones. It’s all connected to the sound system and the amplifiers.”
The system, which will debut on April 26 when Enchanted April opens at the Playshop, was installed thanks to donations from several organizations and people whom Mr. Gould describes as “friends of the Wilton Playshop.”
The formal introduction of the looping system is scheduled for May 2, to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month.
“The Kiwanis and Rotary helped us tremendously,” he said. “We also received support from the Children’s Hearing Institute, the Connecticut Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and the Hearing Loss Association of America.”
The looping system was installed by a Massachusetts-based company. The Playshop is the first community theater in Connecticut to offer it, according to Mr. Gould.
“We were the first theater to provide sign language performances, as well as open caption performances,” he said.
Enchanted April is based on a 1922 novel written by Elizabeth von Armin. It was first adapted for Broadway in 1925 and was made into a movie in 1935.
It returned to film in 1992, winning Golden Globe awards for actresses Miranda Richardson and Joan Plowright. The movie also garnered three Academy Award nominations.
The plot follows four women in post World War I London, who get away from their lives by renting a villa in Italy. A background of class warfare brews as two middle-class housewives clash with two upper-class women.
The Playshop production of the show is based on a 2003 Tony Award-nominated adaptation by Matthew Barber.
Directing the production, her first at the Playshop, is Carin Zakes.
“This production brings talented Playshop veterans as well as several new faces to our stage,” she said.
The cast of the play includes Hugh Tucker, Kate Telfer, Rob Garber, Shelley Lepetich, Trish Maskell, Philip Hahn, Julie Thaxter-Gourlay, and Kate Castaldi.
The set was designed by Dave Cunningham and brought to life by Gini Frank Fischer, said Genia Meinhold, who handles publicity for the Playshop.
“You’ll be transported to an Italian villa,” she said.
Founded in 1937, the Playshop continues to offer three productions each year at its location just off Route 33 on Lovers Lane.
Ms. Meinhold added her thanks for the addition of the looping system.
“We are grateful to Pat and Alan Gould for their ongoing dedication to programs for the hearing-impaired and for bringing this state-of-the-art looping technology to the Playshop,” she said.
The show is scheduled to run April 26-28 and May 2-4. Tickets are available at the website, wiltonplayshop.org.