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White Light Supports Live Reading of Orwell’s 1984

White Light Supports Live Reading of Orwell’s 1984

UK – For the first time ever in the UK, George Orwell’s all-time classic 1984 was read in its entirety at Senate House, University of London last week. Produced by Libby Brodie Productions in association with The Orwell Foundation and UCL’s Festival of Culture, the book was read live by over 50 leading cultural figures in an epic 12 hour read-through. Having worked on numerous bespoke performances, WL was called upon to provide the lighting, sound and video equipment.

1984 LIVE took place on Tuesday 6th June and was part of the UCL Festival of Culture 2017. The reading was streamed live to libraries across the country, as well as online where it was being watched across the globe. The reading was directed by Hannah Price with a lighting design by Robbie Butler, a previous recipient of the ETC Award from the Association of Lighting Designers. Robbie states: “This was a really unique project for a whole range of reasons! One of these included the pre-production period. Due to the length of the reading, this was something we simply could not rehearse from start to finish. As a result, this meant that the first time we would see the show would be on the day itself. Therefore meticulous planning was absolutely key.”

As part of his preparations, Robbie visited the space several times. He comments: “The reading took place at Senate House as this was Orwell’s inspiration behind the Ministry of Truth which features in the novel. That said, the space itself is not traditionally a performance venue. The room is very art deco and features lots of marble. Therefore, while it might be lovely to look at, it’s not very practical! Similarly, there is a very limited power supply in the room which meant I had to cater my rig accordingly.”

Robbie drew on a range of WL’s equipment, including Martin Aura XB, CORE Colour Point IP65 Battery Uplighter, ETC Source Four Series 2 Lustr+ LED Profiles and Philips SL PAR150 Zoom RGBW Washes. Robbie adds: “I wanted to draw on as much LED as possible due to the limited power within the space. In terms of my artistic vision, I’d worked closely with Hannah who told me how she envisaged the reading going. As this was first and foremost a reading of the book, the novel had to be the main focus. The role of the lighting was to help influence certain sections and hopefully enhance the audience’s experience.”

Alongside the lighting equipment, WL supplied the audio support which included EM Acoustics EMS 61 Loudspeakers and DPA dfine double ear omni headsets. Robbie was also the video designer and drew on WL’s fleet of Christie projectors for the video content that was used throughout.

With the Senate House being in constant use, this meant that Robbie and his team had a limited set up time. He comments: “The get in actually started at 5pm the night before and we worked all the way through until 1am the next morning for everything to be in place and ready for the morning. As this was the first time we had used any technical equipment within the space, we needed to ensure it was working perfectly.”

Speakers on the event included Richard Blair (George Orwell’s Adopted Son), Billy Bragg, Ken Loach, Mark Ravenhill and Bonnie Greer. 1984 LIVE was a huge success and the entire reading is now available to watch on the Orwell Foundation website.

Robbie adds: “This was a fantastic project and one I was proud to have worked on. I want to thank everyone involved and in particular the team at WL who were unbelievably helpful throughout.”

photos: Robin Boot

White Light Supports Live Reading of Orwell’s 1984White Light Supports Live Reading of Orwell’s 1984

13th June 2017

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