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Everything for Everyman from GDS

Everything for Everyman from GDS
Everything for Everyman from GDS

UK – The ArcSystem, BluesSystem and SM Console were the choices of RIBA award-winning Liverpool Everyman, as first GDS full-system theatre goes live.

It would be practically impossible to overstate the importance of the Everyman Theatre to the city of Liverpool. To list the names of those whose careers are synonymous with it, would be to compile a who's who of artistic giants, their ground-breaking work deeply embedded in the national psyche, their place at the top table of British cultural history assured. In the early 1960s a group of artists, poets, writers and musicians who met at the then Hope Hall Cinema, decided that the building would make a good theatre and in 1964, the Everyman was born.

Closed in 1975 for rebuilding, it reopened in 1977 and there followed 34 years that shaped the careers of Willy Russell, Alan Bleasdale, Julie Walters, Bernard Hill and Pete Postlethwaite to name a just a handful. In 2011, the Everyman closed its doors again for a £28 million redevelopment, funded for the most part by Arts Council England and The European Development fund. Architects Haworth Tompkins were responsible for the design of the new Everyman. Shortly after its reopening in March 2014 the project won a highly-prized RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) award for North-West Region Building of the Year and was subsequently placed on a shortlist of 6 for the national award.

By combining thermally massive construction with a series of natural ventilation systems and low-energy technical infrastructures, the building has achieved a BREEAM Excellent Rating (BREEAM being the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings).

The 400-seater Everyman will act as a 'creative hub' for the city. It boasts a dedicated youth and community space to house the theatre's extensive and growing work with schools and community groups as well as rehearsal space and production workshops. Housed in an award-winning, exciting, state-of-the-art building, the future of the Everyman looks well set to match its rich heritage.

Central to the redevelopment of the theatre was the appointment of leading theatre consultants Charcoalblue, whose reputation for exciting innovation perfectly complemented the vision of the architects and the wishes of the Everyman's own creative team. It can easily be seen that the origins of the project pointed towards something exceptional, where the bar would remain high from start to finish.

The 'low energy technical infrastructures' were key to the overall environmental picture, none more so than the provision for lighting and it was here that GDS entered the frame. With a portfolio of award-winning and industry-leading products, GDS was a natural fit in such illustrious company. The brief of the entire project demanded the most stringently efficient use of energy in what was to become, to coin the architect’s phrase, a 'densely inhabited urban building.' A back-catalogue of installations at similarly prestigious sites such as The Bristol Old Vic, The Savoy Theatre and The Eventim Hammersmith Apollo to mention but a few in the UK, served to emphasise the strength of the GDS brand and each of the creative teams involved specified its use.

House lights, emergency lights and BluesSystem back stage working lights were all to be supplied by GDS and when the Everyman team further specified the employment of a GDS SMConsole (Stage Manager's Console) and CueLight System, the first GDS full system theatre was created. GDS ArcSystem was used for the house lights and emergency lighting throughout. Wirelessly controlled using GDS' ArcMesh protocol, these highly efficient LEDs produce outstanding light quality whilst being fully dimmable from 100% - 0. Surface or recess mounted, single or multicellular and with optics offering a range of beam angles, they are convection cooled and run silently. In the Everyman Theatre more than 170 ArcSystem fixtures were installed.

GDS BluesSystem was used in all working areas. This system, mounted directly onto electrical conduit has become the worldwide industry standard for reliable dimmable working lights and in excess of 100 Blue Beam and Blue Dome fixtures were put in place.

In specifying the GDS Stage Manager's console, the Everyman joined a rapidly growing list of venues whose eyes have been opened to the adaptability and flexibility afforded by this carefully developed product. During development, GDS focused its energies on finding out exactly what the professionals required and then set about delivering precisely that. As a consequence of its research, GDS produced a console that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the stage manager in a given environment. The requirements of different

performance spaces and the varying nature of productions they stage, means that a 'one-sizefits-all' approach is rarely ideal - the bespoke nature of the GDS Stage Manager's console enables the stage manager to choose from a range of options that exactly suit his or her particular needs. In the case of the Everyman Theatre, a change of plan meant that the original specifications for the console were re-thought but the bespoke nature of the product meant that the necessary changes could be made during its production to ensure it still offered an optimum facility.

Ian Stickland of Charcoal Blue Theatre Consultants commented: "When the initial house lighting scheme for the new Everyman was designed, we had resigned ourselves to using Tungsten fittings but as the Everyman theatre is naturally ventilated and designed to achieve

‘BREEAM Excellent’, we were keen to explore a suitable LED alternative. With the development of the ArcSystem we were able to offer the client a low energy system that met their exacting standards for flexibility, dimming and colour temperature. We arranged for Matt Lloyd to demonstrate the installation at Bristol Old Vic to the architect and artistic director. They were suitably convinced and so the entire house and worklighting scheme was changed for the Arc fittings.

"Both Matt Lloyd and Paul Johnson from GDS were involved in the system design and helped deliver the quality of service and equipment we have come to expect from the stage management consoles and BluesSystems.

"The key to the success of the Everyman auditorium is its ability to maintain the familiar warmth and charm of the old theatre in a sustainable, flexible way and the use of the GDS ArcSystem is an important factor in achieving this."

Head of lighting at the Everyman, Kay Haynes added: "We’re proud to become the first GDS full system theatre and are delighted with the results of using the GDS ArcSystem, BluesSystem, Stage Manager's Console and CueLight System. The new Everyman has

sustainability at its heart so it was important to find a lighting solution that could deliver that, whilst not compromising on the quality and GDS more than fulfilled those requirements. The lighting is very efficient and reliable and the colour temperature for LEDs is great. We have also found the BluesSystem to be excellent and it rarely needs to run at ‘full’ because of the brightness it delivers. The system gives us superb flexibility - it is adaptable for the full range of stage configurations that the new auditorium can accommodate and has great wireless control. There is the capacity to access the whole GDS system from a laptop. I can be at any position in the auditorium and set minimum and maximum levels, flash certain channels to identify where they are and if they are working. All the house-lights and blues circuits can

be controlled by the lighting console for use during shows, which allowed us to create a Mexican wave effect during the celebratory opening production."

GDS managing director Matt Lloyd reflects on another GDS first: "As we celebrate our tenth anniversary I think we're entitled to take a measure of pride and satisfaction from the progress we've made and this project pretty much epitomises everything we work towards at GDS. This is the first GDS full-system theatre and it's a landmark moment for the company. The Everyman has offered a ringing endorsement of our tireless approach to sustainability, flexibility, adaptability and quality. The fact that it is a ‘BREEAM Excellent' rated, famous theatre that has won a prestigious RIBA award naturally makes the headlines but for us at GDS, what speaks volumes is knowing that our products are now recognised in this way as 'go-to' systems across a huge range of venues worldwide. This is definitely a milestone for GDS that can only signal more exciting times ahead - here's to the next ten years."

As GDS celebrates its tenth year, the award winning UK manufacturer has become a truly global company, having established an international sales and distribution network in over 42 countries. With six market-leading brands and the ABTT 2014 Lighting product of the year award this year, GDS continues to innovate at the forefront of the entertainment, architectural, television and corporate markets. From ARC System, the original wireless Auditorium LED Lighting System to the BlueSystem backstage working lights; from

CueSystem cue lights to Stage Mangers Desk around the world, GDS continue to create innovative, flexible solutions that have found their way from Broadway to the Liverpool Everyman and from The Esplanade Singapore to the Savoy Theatre London.

photos: Philip Vile

Everything for Everyman from GDSEverything for Everyman from GDS

11th August 2014

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