Clear-Com Arcadia enhances Kent State University’s Theatre and Dance School

Photo: Andrea Hallgren

Situated on the Kent State University campus in Kent, Ohio, the Center for the Performing Arts is dedicated to creative excellence and delivering an exceptional learning environment for students. After struggling with a single-channel communications system and walkie-talkies for some time, the School of Theater and Dance evolved its production communication with its recent installation of Clear-Com’s Arcadia Central Station IP intercom platform.

The new Arcadia system seamlessly integrates with the school’s Clear-Com FreeSpeak II digital wireless and HelixNet digital wired party line intercom user stations they had previously installed as part of an infrastructure upgrade. This set-up now combines all the functionality Kent State University requires to have the constant clear communications it needs for every stage of the production – from pre-production tech set-up, including in-class education, to the actual performances.

“With three venues, including our Porthouse Theatre outdoor stage, we’re producing ten theatre, dance, and musical productions a year, all student-designed and produced,” said Jeff Polunas, Assistant Professor of Sound & Projection Design. “With such a busy production schedule, we were looking to get our shows up and running more efficiently and boost our educational value for the students. I knew that a dependable and coordinated communications infrastructure and workflow was imperative for our and our students’ success. Our entire production communication system is now Clear-Com, so everything is interconnected and seamless.”

The intercom system needed to be used between three theatres at Kent State, so the team looked for a portable and racked intercom solution that didn’t require any additional hardware and only minimal configuration changes. Having the Arcadia, FreeSpeak II, and HelixNet products in-house also evolved the Sound Design curriculum at Kent State, providing students with real-life hands-on professional AV communications experience. Jeff shared that their students “are learning critical on-the-job skills while they set-up and install, test, and recalibrate the comms systems, and then take it all apart again after each show. From pre-production to the actual performance, it’s an intensive practicum for our students and gives us the portable and flexible production capabilities that we needed. It’s helped to boost the educational experience for our students,” explained Jeff.

He went on to note that: “aside from the general drastic improvement of our production communications, both our Kent students and I have found the browser-based Clear-Com Core Configuration Manager particularly useful when it comes to configuring and editing our communications infrastructure. It’s so intuitive, providing us with a visual of all our system components, including monitoring of the interfaces, and offers our students a quick and simple way to set up for each performance.”

With its Clear-Com intercom infrastructure, Kent’s School of Theater and Dance is enhancing its production value for each performance. It connects all users with a crystal clear, easy-to-use and manage communications system. Whether they’re on the move backstage in lighting or props, or in the control room working the switcher, the rugged quality of the Clear-Com system eliminates many hours that were previously dedicated to troubleshooting faulty equipment or maintenance delays. The production team can now focus on the creative performances, supported by concise and reliable communications.