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White Light Supplies Donmar Warehouse's Shakespeare Trilogy with Revolutionary Spotrack
UK – The Shakepeare Trilogy is an all-female production of three of Shakespeare’s most renowned plays: The Tempest, Henry IV and Julius Caesar. While this 13-week repertory season is the latest production from the renowned Donmar Warehouse, the plays are actually being performed in a custom-built theatre located near Kings Cross Station. As the leading lighting supplier to UK theatre, White Light was approached to provide the lighting equipment for this exciting production, which includes the revolutionary Spotrack system.
The lighting designer for the Trilogy is James Farncombe, who has worked with WL on several projects. He comments: “My brief for the Shakespeare Trilogy was to create a design that would give each play a separate identity yet have the aesthetic through-line that roots the trilogy in a recognisable environment. The productions are all presented in-the-round and on the same set, so it was important for the rig to be flexible yet have elements of precision.”
The Shakespeare Trilogy is being performed in a purpose-built 420-seater venue situated next to King’s Cross Station. James comments: “It’s been a really interesting experience working in the space. The roof is fairly low so I designed the truss around this. The director, Phyllida Lloyd, was keen for the lighting to be as specific as possible, drawing on the aesthetic of the original productions at the Donmar which Neil Austin lit largely with four beamlights, operated by the cast as followspots. However, as the roof is 6m high and the truss stands at 5.5m, this means the grid is simply not accessible during performances. Not only is it impossible for the crew to operate spots but the grid is also too low to use conventional followspots with dedicated operators. However, we really wanted to maintain the specific focus that the followspots afforded the original production. The only way to do this was by utilising Spotrack.”
Spotrack is an innovative system that turns moving lights into followspots under the control of a human operator. It is a visual tracking system that uses a video camera and computer mouse, meaning the performer is free from wearing any type of transmitter.
James adds: “For the Trilogy, Spotrack allows our four operators to control four TW1s, meaning we have 16 followspots on the show. This has allowed us to follow an actor around the space while providing ample cover from all four sides. We would not have been able to achieve this without the use of Spotrack due to the restrictions within the space.”
Spotrack is being utilised alongside a more conventional lighting set-up, which includes a general cover of 36 ETC Source Four LED Series 2 Lustrs, with an additional 28 Lustrs providing further cover on the stairs and vomitoriums. There are also a handful of Parcans and dimmable fluorescent tubes along with a scattering of tungsten bulkhead fittings.
This marks the first time that Spotrack has been used on a production of this size. James adds: “It’s a fantastic piece of equipment and has been unbelievably beneficial for this particular show. It’s allowed us to achieve positions and create a particular feel that would have previously been impossible. Ultimately, it’s helped contribute to a very interesting, unique production.”
Bryan Raven, WL’s managing director, comments: “We are delighted to have not only supplied the Shakespeare Trilogy but to have been able to offer technology as revolutionary as Spotrack. We believe this system, which is still in its infancy, will continue to grow and offer lighting designers, such as James, the widest range of options possible. As a company, we strive to provide each production we work on with the very latest technology which fulfils their exact requirements; something we were able to do on this occasion.”
25th October 2016
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