Summer Theater and Infrared Listening Devices at the Jubilee, the Citadel and Festival Place
“Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala!” If you have never seen The Lion King on Broadway, you need to see it! And luckily, you don’t have to travel all the way to New York—The Lion King is playing at the Jubilee this summer. Are you concerned that you won’t be able to hear the magical words to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” or “Hakuna Matata”? Well, the Jubilee has a solution for that as well—infrared listening devices.
Infrared is a type of electromagnetic radiation, similar to that of visible light. However, infrared has a wavelength that is longer than visible light, making infrared radiation invisible to us. Infrared radiation is all around us—in fact, half of the energy from the Sun arrives on Earth in the form of infrared radiation. And of course we have found ways to manipulate infrared radiation to suit our needs. Infrared energy is most commonly used in scientific and military applications. For example, night vision technology, telescopes that are used to view certain specific parts of space, and weather monitoring all make use of infrared technology. Furthermore, we even make use of infrared signals in our homes: remote controls for televisions, stereos, etc., use infrared signals! Our remote controls have an infrared light emitting diode that projects an infrared beam. The beam is modulated to represent the information that is being transmitted. Once the information has been received, it is converted to an electrical signal by a silicon photodiode. This method of transmitting data is also used to transmit sound across a room—hence the infrared listening device. Essentially, the infrared signal is sent from transmitters that are placed around the room to a personal receiver that is worn by the listener. There are two different options for receivers: 1) A simple set of headphones that may be worn directly in your ears, and 2) a teleloop that may be worn around your neck that would transmit the signal to the telecoil in your hearing aids (see our blog on Edmonton Folk Festival Teleloop System for more about this technology).
Infrared listening devices may be purchased for at-home use, but are also commonly used in theater spaces, or even court rooms. The advantage of infrared listening devices is that you must have a receiver to pick up the signal; therefore the signal can be controlled and limited to only those who are given receivers. This is important for issues of privacy, such as in a courthouse. In contrast, the teleloop system only requires that the person has a telecoil to receive the signal, and telecoils are easy to obtain, making confidentiality a problem. Furthermore, spaces that typically make use of these systems, like theaters, do not have any natural light sources, which is important as natural light interferes with the transmission of infrared signals. Given that the Edmonton Folk Fest is held outdoors, an infrared listening system would not have been an ideal choice—the teleloop system that was chosen is certainly more suitable.
Since infrared listening systems are ideal in theater spaces, the Jubilee is not the only space that uses this technology: the Citadel and Festival Place in Sherwood Park both use infrared listening systems. While the summer is used by the Citadel to wrap up the season and take a break, we can look forward to a whole new lineup of theater kicking off with BOOM on September 19th. The Citadel is also looking at upgrading their listening system for next season as well, so there might be something brand-new to try! Festival Place uses their outdoor space for the majority of their summer events—and we know that an infrared listening system is not going work well outside. They do have one production, Chapter Two: A Comedy in Two Acts, playing from July 23rd to July 29th that is playing in their indoor theater space. So you can go give their listening system a try this summer.