Shakespeare in the sand: Audio Logic installs weather resistant Y-Series for Lake Tahoe festival.

With a stunning view as its backdrop, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is nestled in a dune within Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. It operates solely in the summer months and beginning in early June, the crew arrives to assemble the entire venue including the seating, towers, rigging, lighting and speaker systems. In September, everything is stored for the winter leaving only a bare stage deck. Each season, two shows run in repertory: one a musical, the other a Shakespeare play, as well as weekly live musical concerts. This year, the Festival transformed their sound system with the help of Audio Logic Systems (ALS) of Minneapolis, MN. 

“An outdoor theater space, the festival area is fully open to the elements where the audience attends as much to socialize as they do to watch the performance,” states John Markiewicz, Owner/CMO - Audio Logic Systems. 

David Gotwald is the resident designer for the Shakespeare Festival; and together with sound supervisor Brian Chismar, they selected d&b as the system of choice. “We went to John at ALS because we were interested in an all d&b system,” said Gotwald. “Brian and I had specified a d&b rig for our sister venue, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, two years ago, and we were thrilled with the response from the patrons as well as our artists. So we knew we couldn’t go wrong with a d&b system for Tahoe. 

“The transparency and linear response of the cabinets are a huge selling point for me as a designer. Since our venue is completely exposed to the elements, I wanted weather resistant cabinets, which could withstand the blistering sun as well as constant exposure to sand dust. The fact that d&b offers this option was a plus for us. It was a pleasure designing this system with John and the result of our tuning process was extremely successful. A constant complaint we heard before this install was about inconsistent coverage, ‘too loud up front and can’t hear in the back’. With the new line arrays and the point source delay and fill cabinets, we have really solved this problem.”

The main PA consists of L/R arrays of eight Yi12 each. Because of trim height limitations as well as the 36-foot rise in elevation, Markiewicz was unable to cover the entire depth of the seating area with this hang alone. To cover the rear seating area, he implemented a delay system from lighting towers halfway back. “This was tricky since the seating is not symmetrical and the two towers are at different heights. To provide coverage for the first few rows and to bring the image forward and down to the stage, we provided two Yi10P loudspeakers mounted at the left and right proscenium location.” 

From a design perspective, the venue is a complicated and asymmetrical space built on a sand dune peninsula; and while the design itself proved challenging, Markiewicz said that a major installation headache was the sand. “Trenching in sand and running new conduit is difficult. Add to that working outdoors for weeks and squirrels eating everything you set down.”

“I arrived at the venue after the system had already been installed and tuned to measurements,” stated Bart Fasbender, Sound Designer for the Festival’s musical this season, Million Dollar Quartet. “In walking around the house, and after consulting with John Markiewicz and David Gotwald we made a few EQ and timing changes to taste but generally we stayed pretty close to what the numbers and meters predicted we would need….It was just a pleasure having that reliably blank canvas to work with....The d&b gear was so accurate and predictable that it was easy to get the results we were looking for from the system and for me to get the sound of the show I wanted. I couldn’t have been happier, and I’m looking forward to getting to the next all d&b venue in a few weeks.”

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