Following a major lighting and sound refurbishment in the summer of 2018 (completed by LSI Projects), Harlow Playhouse issued a further tender in January 2020 for the upgrade of their house (or auditorium) and working lights systems, and LSI were again successful. This time the work involved the replacement of the house lighting and backstage white & blue working light system along with a new integrated control system. The sides of the stage in a theatre are called ‘wings’, and the lighting has traditionally been coloured blue when the performance is on, to make it less noticeable should the audience happen to be able to see into the wings.
LSI’s project manager for this work was Richard Fearne, who has a career history working in television studio lighting as well as theatre lighting. Richard had recently been involved in LSI’s work at ITV’s ‘Coronation Street’ studios in Manchester, which was soon to prove useful, as one of the challenges was to find a suitable lighting fitting for the fly floor.
In larger theatres, like the Playhouse, it is quite normal to raise and lower, or ‘fly’, the scenery in and out of the stage when changing scenes in a performance. The Playhouse has a counterweight fly system using steel weights to counterbalance the weight of the scenery pieces. This is controlled by hand pulled ropes (by ‘fly’ men) on a platform, called the fly floor, above and to the side of the stage. To make sure the scenery is lowered to the correct position, the ropes are usually marked with tape, so providing a suitable working light system to allow the flymen to see their marks clearly and without any light spill onto the stage was a major requirement.
The solution was to use Canford’s 4ft LED Script Lights (Stock code: 51-943), These units are constructed from elegant aluminium extrusions and have fully adjustable shutters which provide a narrow 'curtain' of light which can be directed at work surfaces. They have an integral electronic driver, and utilise LED Northlight tubes which provide a colour temperature of approximately 5500 K.
Canford Script Lights are more commonly used in broadcast environments, such as studio control rooms. LSI installed a number of these above the fly floor. These allowed control of the light output by closing the shutters to a very narrow beam, thus providing an even field of light over the ropes, allowing the flymen to see their marks clearly but not spill light onto the stage or into the auditorium.
All of this goes to show that whilst some products are designed to do one function, they can often be used to great effect in many other situations. Having had Canford as a supply partner for well over 20 years, meant that LSI knew they could rely on quick support and service, and the order was supplied in good time to fit in around the theatre’s schedule. The result is another glowing response from the theatre’s technical manager, Emily Parsley, “It looks brilliant, they’ve done a really good job.”
For more information about Canford Script Lights please visit https://www.canford.co.uk/Script-rack-and-console-lighting