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Archive for September, 2013

Technical Theatre Awards Debuts at PLASA!

26th September, 2013

UK – Thanks to the generous support of PLASA and The Theatres Trust, the Technical Theatre Awards (TTAs) will be on stand A15 throughout PLASA promoting the event – and presenting the awards on stand A59 (Theatres Trust) on Tuesday 8th October from 5-7pm.

The TTAs is receiving great support from the industry, and more than ten major industry sponsors are generously sponsoring the Awards including AVW Controls, dbs solutions, Load Cell Rental, Mayflower, Philips Entertainment, PLASA, PRG, StageBitz, Stage Jobs Pro, The Fifth Estate and Triple E. TTA is also very kindly supported by Lighting and Sound International and The Theatres Trust.

“The idea of the TTA awards is to highlight the work and effort of the people who really create productions – the people behind the scenes who are often overlooked,” says organiser Ian Taylor. “I think it’s important to recognise all those who work in technical theatre, and this is an opportunity for everyone in the industry to do just that.”

This year the Technical Theatre Awards Ceremony will see a host of industry celebrities presenting awards – ranging from ‘Outstanding Achievement in Lighting’ to ‘Wigs and Make Up’ – including LSi’s erudite editor Lee Baldock, PRG’s Pete Marshall, and Triple E’s David and Brenda Edelstein.

Host for the evening will be prolific multi award-winning lighting designer Rick Fisher, perhaps best known for his work on Billy Elliot the Musical and An Inspector Calls. Recent credits include Great Expectations at Bristol’s Old Vic, The Herd at The Bush Theatre, and Inside Wagner’s Head at the Linbury Studio Royal Opera House, to name but a few.

Some of the UK’s finest technical theatre staff and companies are nominated, including the Theatre Royal Newcastle and Festival Theatre Edinburgh for ‘The Spotlight Accounting Receiving Venue of the Year Award’; Janet Williamson and Frank Maguire for ‘The Triple E Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Building & Set Construction’; and Richard Brooker, Paul Arditti, and James Breward for ‘The dBS Solutions Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound’; and many more (for a full list of nominations, visit

A drinks reception, generously sponsored by Philips Entertainment and Triple E, will be held to kick off the awards ceremony.

“I’m enormously grateful to all our sponsors as they are all well recognised for their high standards and quality within the industry,’ says Taylor. “This is exactly what we hope our awards highlight in others! With the support of these companies we believe we will continue to grow and develop the TTA awards.”

Take a Look at the Final Nominees for the 2013 Knight of Illumination Awards!

23rd September, 2013

The eagerly anticipated shortlists of lighting designers nominated for a much-coveted Knight of Illumination Award have been announced.

Established to celebrate outstanding achievements in British lighting design in the sectors of TV, Theatre and Concert Touring and Events, the awards are voted on by panels of professional reviewers who work in each of the specific sectors.

“It’s been the most popular Knight of Illumination awards to date with an unprecedented number of submissions across the categories Theatre, Television and Concert Touring and Events,” says KOI Co-ordinator Durham Marenghi. “This year KOI organisers have been inundated with submissions of stunning lighting design work, all of which deserve the highest recognition for their creativity.”

So without further ado, and in alphabetical order, the following are the shortlists for each category of each sector:

Concert Touring and Events:

ARENA: Baz Halpin – Pink; Jamie Thompson – The Script; Ed Warren – Mumford and Sons
STAGE: Bruno Poet – Sigur Ros; Chris Swain – Two Door Cinema Club; Mark Wood – Lana del Rey
LIVE EVENT: Vince Foster – Queen’sCoronation Gala; James Waudby – ShangriLa; Patrick Woodroffe – London OlympicsCeremonies
VIDEO ELECTRONIC CONTENT: Es Devlin & Luke Halls – Pet Shop Boys; Sarah Hopper & Damian Hale – Sigur Ros; Ed Warren – Mumford and Sons


LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: Dave Davey – Britain’s Got Talent Final; Gurdip Mahal – The Voice Final; Oli Richards – The McFly Show.
SMALL STUDIO: Colin Case – Howard Goodall’s History of Music; Duncan Elsam – Smells Like Friday Night; Dave Gibson – Olympic Studio.
DRAMA: Ashley Rowe BSC – Dancing on the Edge; John Sorapure – Little Cracker; Chris Watts – Father Brown.
EVENTS: Nick Collier – Bollywood Carmen Live; Bernie Davis – Funeral of Baroness Thatcher; Guy Hoare & Mike Le Fevre – Metamorphosis.
GRAPHIC DISPLAY: Dave Davey – Dancing on Ice; Gurdip Mahal – The Voice; Patrick Woodroffe – Olympic Opening Ceremony.


DANCE: Damien Cooper & Matt Cox – The Oracle – Queen Elizabeth Hall; Fabiana Piccioli – iTMOi – Sadler’s Wells; Jean-Philippe Roy – Sideways Rain – Sadler’s Wells
OPERA: Jon Clark – Written on Skin – Royal Opera; Jean Kalman – Death in Venice – English National Opera; Mark Jonathan – Lulu – Welsh National Opera
PLAY: Charles Balfour – The River – Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court; Jon Clark – The Effect – Cottesloe, National Theatre; Mike Gunning – The Drowned Man – Punchdrunk at Temple Studios
MUSICALS: Paule Constable – Barnum – Chichester Festival Theatre Tent; Natasha Katz – Once – Phoenix Theatre; David Plater – This Is My Family – Studio, Sheffield Crucible
PROJECTION DESIGN: Lysander Ashton – Feast – Young Vic; Ravi Deepres – Raven Girl – Royal Ballet; Michel van de Aa – Sunken Garden – English National Opera at The Barbican.

Topping off the evening’s celebrations with be the presentation of the Enrico Caironi Award for Lifetime Recognition. Previous winners include: Coral Cooper – 2010, Richard Pilbrow – 2011 and Bryan Leitch – 2012.

The Awards, which are organised by the ALD, STLD, Clay Paky and Ambersphere Solutions, are generously sponsored by Chroma-Q, Hawthorn, MA Lighting, Osram, Robert Juliat and XL Video and kindly supported by ABTT, ET Now, L&S America, L&SI, PLASA, The Theatres Trust and TPI magazine.

Winners will be announced at a sparkling ceremony on 6th October at ExCel London’s Platinum Suite and will follow on from the first day of the newly located PLASA Show. The ceremony is open to invited guests only.
For more information check out:

We will see you there!

Triple E joins the list of sponsors for The Technical Theatre Awards 2013!

23rd September, 2013

The Fifth Estate is over the moon to announce that Triple E have joined the list of high profile sponsors for the first ever Technical Theatre Awards at this years PLASA 2013!

Track systems specialist Triple E is sponsoring the Technical Theatre Awards’ (TTA) gong for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Building & Set Construction’ this year.Triple E – which has for thirty years created curtain and Scenery track systems earning it a worldwide reputation for quality and reliability – is supporting the newly-named Triple E Award for Outstanding Achievement in Building & Set Construction which recognises the skill and achievements of an individual working within the Construction Department.

The individuals nominated for this award have made an outstanding contribution to a particular show or event, or contributed to the industry over a period of time. Nominees might be considered for the quality and exceptional standard of their work, be it within woodwork or metalwork, and renowned for their dedication and effort in this discipline.

“We’re thrilled to be lending our name to this award, and supporting our longstanding customers who’ve supported Triple E for many years,” says Triple E’s managing director David Edelstein. “Triple E has a long history of working to assist the backstage theatre industry, for example via our annual First Night Riders charity motorbike tour raising money for The Theatrical Guild. Triple E believes it’s vital to support the often unsung heroes of the theatre industry who are the engine of the whole business.”

For the first time, the TTA will be presented during the PLASA London trade show (6-9 October) with the ceremony taking place on Tuesday 8 October. A drinks reception opens the awards, which runs from 5-7pm. Triple E is also generously sponsoring the drinks reception.

“The idea of the TTA awards is to highlight the work and effort of the people who really create productions – the people behind the scenes who are often overlooked,” says organiser Ian Taylor. “I think it’s important to recognise the riggers and gel cutters, and this is an opportunity for everyone in the industry to do just that. It’s fantastic that Triple E – which has such a good reputation in the industry – is a major supporter of this initiative. I’m enormously grateful.”

The shortlist of nominees for the Triple E Award for Outstanding Achievement in Building & Set Construction is expected to be announced shortly on the TTA website


Philips Entertainment Sponsors the Technical Theatre Awards 2013

18th September, 2013

The Fifth Estate are excited to see that Philips’ entertainment lighting brands Selecon, Showline, Strand Lighting and Vari-Lite will be lending their support to the Technical Theatre Awards’ (TTA) 2013, which will be hosted at this year’s PLASA Show (6th – 9th October, ExCel, London).

As sponsor for the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Lighting’ Award, a representative from Philips entertainment brands will present the award to the lucky winner at a ceremony on the Theatres Trust Stand (A59) on 8th October 2013.

The Award recognises any individual working within any role in theatre lighting. Nominees will be considered for their exceptional efforts and achievements on a particular show or event, or because the high standard of their overall approach has been recognised by their colleagues and employers.

“Philips Entertainment is proud to be sponsoring the TTA Awards, and specifically to be supporting the often unsung ‘stars’ that work behind the scenes to ensure great lighting works within theatre,” says Philips Entertainment’s (Senior Sales Manager EMEA) Grant Bales-Smith. “We wish all nominees the very best of luck, and offer our full support and warm congratulations to Ian Taylor for staging these awards.”

For the first time, the TTA will be presented during the PLASA London trade show (6th-9th October) with the ceremony taking place on Tuesday 8th October. The Awards kick off at 5pm and last until 7pm, with a drinks reception for guests.

“The idea of the TTA awards is to highlight the work and effort of the people behind the scenes who are so often overlooked,” says organiser Ian Taylor. “I think it’s important to recognise and acknowledge the diverse talents of backstage workers in all their guises, and this is an ideal opportunity for everyone in the industry to do just that.

“I’m enormously grateful to Philips for sponsoring ‘The Philips Entertainment Award for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting’ as the company is recognised for the quality and diversity of their lighting products. This is exactly what we hope our awards will highlight in others! With the generous sponsorship support of Philips Entertainment, we can continue to grow and develop the TTA awards.”

 Nominated for The Philips Entertainment Award for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting 2013 are:

Tim Routledge – an experienced lighting designer and programmer who has worked on some of the biggest shows in the UK during the past year. He was Associate Lighting Designer for the Queens Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace and Lead lighting programmer for the Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics. Recent lighting design projects include Gary Barlow Tour 2012, The War Of The Worlds Live On Stage.

Alex Wardle – whose lighting design work has been seen around the UK and in Australia, China, Lebanon, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Syria and the USA. He was Production Manager for Kneehigh Theatre from 2000 – 2005 and a theatre consultant for Arup from 2005 – 2011. He now works as a theatre consultant and lighting designer for Charcoalblue. Designs for Kneehigh Theatre include Rapunzel, Tristan & Yseult outdoors and at the National Theatre, The Wooden Frock, The Red Shoes and The Riot.

Richard G Jones – Richard has recently worked on lighting designs for Strictly Come Dancing Tour 2012, First Person Shooter for Birmingham REP, Oliver Twist and The Hired Man for Bolton Octagon Theatre, Behud for Soho Theatre, and Canterbury Tales for Northern Broadsides.

Voting is open until 30th September, and is open to all members of the theatre industry, and can be accessed via the TTA website at

Other awards within the TTAs include: The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Building & Set Construction, The Hire Company of the Year Award, The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Wardrobe, and The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Wigs & Makeup.

5E can’t wait for the awards- see you there!

5E goes back to school with Charcoalblue.

5th September, 2013

The Fifth Estate take to the classroom with problem-solving theatre consultancy Charcoalblue has collaborated with Bland, Brown and Cole architects to inject its bespoke brand of design sorcery to create Cambridge’s The Leys School’s new £9m Great Hall.

The focus of Charcoalblue’s expertise is the Great Hall’s new 320-seat theatre, which incorporates high-spec backstage facilities, technical infrastructure including lighting and sound equipment, a control room and workshop, storage areas and a green room. These will allow the Leys Drama Department and technical staff to operate a fully functional “teaching theatre”, with pupils involved in every aspect of productions. The lower seating tier of the theatre is retractable, creating a School Hall which can comfortably seat 600 for a full assembly.

Charcoalblue has provided theatre design and planning services as well as the detailed design of the theatre technical systems. Following the start of the building works on site, Charcoalblue has been overseeing the theatre elements of the works.

“The Leys School is one of England’s premier independent schools and has active and successful music, drama and science departments,” says Charcoalblue’s Gavin Owen, who is Project Managing the operation. “The school’s previous theatre, built in 1967, was no longer fit for purpose, and so the Great Hall project was commenced to provide the school with a new home for drama.

This project combines the skills of both Charcoalblue’s Acoustics and Theatre Consultancy divisions and acoustic measures are integrated into the design and form of the auditorium providing the best possible environment for both actors and musicians in training. To service the requirements of musical performance, reflective acoustic panels are incorporated into the underside of lighting bridges over the stage and the walls of the auditorium are shaped. A curtain deploys from a pocket within the wall at high level to allow for variable acoustic condition depending on the type of performance. Head of Acoustics at Charcoalblue, Byron Harrison says: “Great Hall balances the functional needs of a multi-purpose auditorium with the specific acoustic goals of drama performance for young people by prioritising low background noise, loudness of sound and early reflections to refine speech intelligibility”.

The form of the room was paramount as this didn’t want to feel like another school hall. The retractable seating and the presence of a movable wall within the stalls allows the room to be opened to accommodate greater numbers or flat floor events but this approach can often lead to a sterile environment. Within Great Hall, this is counteracted with a shaped balcony front at first floor level. Senior Consultant Ben Hanson, who led Charcoalblue’s contribution to the room design states: “The form of the balcony front is simple and elegant but its contribution the theatrical impact of the room cannot be underestimated, Its presence lifts the space above the ordinary.”

The use of the space by both professionals and pupils alike was at the forefront of thinking during design and the space provides for the needs of technicians in training as well as performers. Thought has been given to safe access to technical equipment, with a tension-wire grid installed over the auditorium and fixed lighting bridges provided over the stage. These bridges are double-stacked to provide maintenance access to the flying systems that sit between them allowing for the suspension of scenic and technical equipment.

Charcoalblue has also consulted on the design of the first floor Drama Studio, providing flexible rehearsal space and an intimate theatre which can be used for small productions and group work, as well as a Dance Studio and space for the Drama Department providing three spacious classrooms and office space.

The result is a multi-configurable, modern, future-proof, and professional building allowing The Leys School to offer outstanding facilities for its music, science, and drama departments. The School’s website states that the institution, ‘offers a blend of traditional values and a forward-looking approach to education’.

“I am filled with excitement and enthusiasm about the building of Great Hall, and the opportunities it gives us for further improvement and growth in reputation,” says Mark Slater, Headmaster of The Leys School.

Great Hall is scheduled to be fully operational for the start of the new school year in September.

“This project has felt special throughout its duration, but the end result has surpassed even our best expectations,” concludes Owen. “The building is truly a product of collaboration, and the heavy and productive involvement of the Client, in the form of Project Director Austin Jessop and Theatre Manager Paul Durose, has been monumental in achieving the final result.”


Theatre Consultants and Acoustics – Charcoalblue

Architecture – Bland, Brown and Cole

Services Design – Max Fordham

Structures – Hannah Read Associates

Main Contractor – Vinci plc

M&E Contractors – Munro

Specialist Stagelighting and AV Contractors – White Light

Stage Engineering Contractors – Independent Studio Services


Now, what are the school dinners like….


Avolites Tiger Touch and Titan Mobile are Just the Ticket for Disclosure

4th September, 2013

Lighting designer Will Potts is utilising the fast and feature-rich Tiger Touch Pro to control an inspired lighting mix for English electronic duo Disclosure.

Potts is using the Tiger Touch Pro to control a mix of pre-programmed and ‘on the fly’ control feeding his floor package and house rigs during the tour. He’s also using a Titan Mobile to control a media server being used to power visuals for Disclosure’s recognisable look.

“Avolites’ Tiger Touch Pro allows me to work quickly and efficiently – the ability to change, remove and record programming in a controlled way during shows has been very useful this summer. We aren’t quite headlining so it’s all about quick turnarounds and little if any pre programming time on the house rigs,” says Potts. “The Touch Pro has everything I need to re-produce my pre-programmed show at a festival. It’s light compact and for this busy run it’s been great to have something that I can quickly get to FOH myself if necessary.

“I program my shows with busking in mind, allowing me to add and remove elements on top of the pre-programmed base. Mode 2 is a great tool and when used on top of chases combined with combined fixture and channel step programming creates some great effects that can be morphed into any house rig at a festival. It’s great to have The Mobile console that runs without mains power or the need to shut down – I have made adjustments to our server programming many times in the wings at festivals or even programming house pallets using their spare fixtures. It’s great to be able to pick the system up with one hand and go as required.”

Potts has used gauze projection screens to give personality and great depth to his gobo work that in hand reinforces the duo’s marketing and live campaign. He says his design vision for the shows was to make a slick, energetic and inclusive show, programmed in such a way to give an ‘old school vibe’ at times.

“The Titan software allows me to create complex movements and effects, but also quickly change these – live if necessary – to very simple large looks that the music calls for. I use the Mobile console to run the same show in ‘fly pack’ mode with a touchscreen ASUS UX31A. It fits nicely inside my flight ready Peli case with room for my Mac running Catalyst – so it’s all guaranteed to show up at the gig and not miles away!”

A recent review of Disclosure’s NYC summer show said: ‘The brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence, 19 and 22 respectively, were accompanied by a large diamond-shape LCD display that illuminated the stage with graphics. A 10-ft, 1984-esque animated version of the duo’s signature face outlines, complete with lips that seemed to move in time with lyrics, was the most impressive.’

Disclosure has been touring all year, visiting some of the world’s coolest festivals in countries ranging from Australia to Austria, Ibiza to Illinois. The boys’ tour is scheduled to continue into 2014, following a UK run in November 2013.

Avolites’ Sapphire Touch and Tiger Touch Pro Spread the Lovebox

4th September, 2013

Lighting design and rental company Siyan chose Avolites consoles for this summer’s Lovebox musical extravaganza in East London’s Victoria Park. This year saw the company step up to the Sapphire Touch and Tiger Touch Pro for the main and second stages respectively.

“Historically, Avolites consoles have been Siyan’s first choice at Lovebox,” explains project manager Jez Johnstone. “For the past few years we’ve used the D4 range for FOH at the main stage, with the Expert on the smaller stages. With technology moving forward, it was a natural progression to spec the Sapphire Touch at main and the Tiger Touch Pro at stage 2.”

At the controls of the Sapphire on the main stage was lighting designer Paula Trounce, taking care of artists including headline act Azealia Banks as well as Tinchy Stryder, Jurassic 5, D’Angelo, Rudimental and Charlie Wilson, among others. Her first time with this console, she’s been using Avolites ever since first operating a Pearl at the London Astoria in 1992. “I also used Diamond 4s as house desks at Shepherds Bush Empire, and I have toured with the Tiger Touch and the Pearl Expert,” she says. “I strongly believe you can’t get a better ‘in house’ desk than a Diamond 4. As a house engineer you are asked on a regular basis to help out touring engineers by programming their show into your desk. Having such a simple and fast interface meant I could give people a quick five minutes tutorial and leave them to it, regardless of their experience level.”

Lovebox gave Trounce the opportunity to explore the Sapphire Touch over a weekend. “I have a lot of experience setting up desks for other people to use and for busking shows,” she continues. “Having two screens on the Sapphire was useful for both programming and quick access to fixtures and pallets. There were lots of ‘Oh wow’ moments with the Pixel mapper; I would go to do something only to find out that the desk had done it for me. Simple, good design with a good amount of faders and the dual screens mean you don’t have to hide things away on different pages. It’s all right there in front of you. And if you do want to use different pages, the motorised faders give you the confidence to do so live.”

Trounce has keenly kept pace with Avolites technology and software updates during the course of her career. “There has been a huge advance over the past few years with Avolites consoles and I’m very excited to see where it ends up,” she says. “I have a feeling this is just the beginning. The way people programme and operate shows has had to change with new technology and fixtures. Desks have to be constantly evolving too, and the latest from Avolites shows they are taking that very seriously.”


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