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Robe at the Prague Quadrennial

Robe at the Prague Quadrennial

Robe moving lights were in action in the main Scenofest Hall of the world renowned Prague Quadrennial 2007 – the International Competitive Exhibition of Scenography and Theatre Architecture. This is organised by OISTAT - the International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians – and is the world’s largest scenographic exhibition.

   The event took over three halls of the Prague Industrial Palace at the Exhibition Grounds to the north of the city. Designed by Bedřich Münzberger and built in 1891 for the General Land Centennial Exhibition, the amazing Palace is 238 metres long and one of the most significant Art Nouveau buildings in Europe.

   The Scenofest element of the PQ took over the splendid 51 metre high Grand Hall. It offered students and young theatre practitioners the opportunity to collaborate, produce and perform their work, mixing with and working alongside top professionals.

   Scenofest featured two main performance spaces. The first was the 18 metre high Tower of Babel, built from scaffolding and steel and conceived by Sean Crowley, head of design at the UK's Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Technical design of the Tower was by PQ's technical director Ian Evans, head of technical studies at the RWCMD. Crowley, Evans and Jean Guy Le Cat also designed the other main performance space ‘The Scenofest Stage’, build with thousands of Rockwool filled cardboard bricks. Both these spaces used Robe moving lights as the primary fixtures in designs by Netherlands-based Henk Van der Geest.

   The 13 metre outside diameter 'cylindrical' style Tower of Babel featured six Robe ColorWash 1200 AT Washes and eight ColorSpot 1200 ATs rigged at several different levels around its perimeter and inside rims. These were absolutely essential for illuminating all the performances taking place there.

   Apart from being used for individual performances and student works, the Robe units were also used for lectures, seminars taking place in the tower and for the many "Babel Moments" happening throughout the Quadrennial period. They were controlled via a grandMA console, which was taken over by the different groups of students as they presented their shows.

   Having a flexible moving light system available for the Tower of Babel was central to the design explains Van Der Geest. "It had to be a rig that everyone could use in a wide variety of ways and for lots of different effects and situation." Robe fixtures were "perfect for the job," he said, adding that they were also very reliable, easy to programme, had plenty of features and effects - and it was also a nice touch that they are manufactured in the Czech Republic.

   The temperatures in the glass roofed Great Hall soared during the June heatwave, but the Robes’ performance was completely unaffected by this which also impressed many people.

   In the cardboard Scenofest Theatre, six Robe ColorWash 575 ATs were used on one of the FOH LX bars – for general lighting and stage washing duties. The other four CW 575 ATs supplied to the PQ were utilized over in the Alfred Vedvove Theatre in one of the smaller halls.

   Van Der Geest - who works primarily in the theatre/performance and architectural sectors - has worked with Robe lights many times before. This has included straight theatre shows for "big moments and for maximizing small spaces by using a minimal amount of lights, right up to massive blockbusting musicals needing plenty of fast-moving, colourful lighting effects.”

   The Robes were supplied to the PQ by Slovakian rental company Q-99 with some coming directly from the Robe factory in Roznov in a deal co-ordinated by Robe's international sales manager, Harry von den Stemmen. He comments: "It was a great opportunity to associate with one of the most innovative international theatre and performance organizations."

   The 2007 Prague Quadrennial saw record figures of almost 23,000 visitors over the 10 day show including 5000 registered participants and theatre professionals from across the world. A record-breaking 3700 children attended the PQ and participated in the PQ for Children programme. An estimated 12,000 spectators witnessed the series of live events taking place throughout Prague over the 10 days.

   In picture: Henk van der Geest, Sean Crowley and Ian Evans.

4th July 2007

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