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  •   A.C. Lighting Provides Theatrical Lighting System for Northern Stage

A.C. Lighting Provides Theatrical Lighting System for Northern Stage

2nd April 2007

A.C. Lighting's Special Projects division has provided the complete supply and installation of lighting technical facilities for the Northern Stage theatre in Newcastle as part of a two year, nine million pound refurbishment programme.

Formerly known as the Newcastle Playhouse, Northern Stage is the largest producing theatre company in the North East of England and regarded as one of the top-ten UK producing theatres. The venue has been completely re-designed, doubling in size to accommodate three very different performance spaces.

Northern Stage's activities include performing their own major new productions on all three stages, co-producing new work with theatre makers from around the world and all around the UK, and inviting the most exciting theatre companies of all sizes and shapes to bring their work to the North East.

Stage 1 is the theatre's spectacular and versatile main space with a newly refurbished auditorium. The stage provides dynamic, surprising and entertaining theatre for all ages and reflects a diversity of tastes and interests as befits the biggest stage between Leeds and Edinburgh.

The smaller Stage 2 champions the very best emerging and established artists, including the most daring theatre makers and comedians from the North East and right around the country. A large acoustic wall separating Stage 1 and Stage 2 can also be removed to create an enormous 'Epic' performance space for even larger events.

Stage 3 is the smallest and most hard-working performance space. During the days the stage is filled with all sorts of activities, then in the evening becomes a cabaret theatre space with performances, comedy nights and a late bar.

Following a competitive tender to supply and install all theatrical lighting technical facilities, main contractor Gleeson Building awarded the tender to A.C.'s Northern sales office in Leeds.

A.C. Project Manager Adam Beaumont oversaw all aspects of supplying and installing the lighting technical facilities for the three stages, which involved a complex programme of works accommodating all other building trades to install and program the system, and spending nearly 12 months onsite to complete the project within deadline.

The extensive equipment list includes over 800 channels of ETC Sensor AF advance feature dimming, an ETC Unison architectural control system, three ETC Congo lighting control consoles plus an additional two ETC Congo Juniors, a complex Network and DMX Distribution system and a full complement of theatrical luminaires and accessories.

The project also involved installing 115 kilometres of mains cable, eight kilometres of Cat5E data cable, 60 custom facility panels and over 6000 combined man hours onsite.

For maximum flexibility, all three stages feature similar equipment and are networked together using a state of the art ETC Net2 Power over Ethernet control system with a DMX distribution system running alongside this. As a result, the theatre has the ability to operate a single show on all three stages from one control area, or operate each area individually. This setup comes into its own when Stage 1 and Stage 2 are combined as the single 'Epic' space, allowing the main stage control room to become the hub for the entire performance area.

The ETC Unison architectural control system provides easy user operation of the house lighting and pre-recorded show scenes via wall mount touch panels in each room and portable LCD station.

In addition to the main contract, A.C. supplied Litec trussing, Prostar chain hoists, a full stock of theatrical drapes including borders, legs and cyc cloths. Outside, the building was lit by 18 Martin Exterior 200 colour-changing fixtures which can be easily re-programmed to suit whatever events are taking place at Northern Stage.

Chris Slater, Technical Manager, Northern Stage commented: "Working with A.C. Lighting for the electrical install, and ultimately the supply of all stage rigging, masking and LX equipment was made so easy by the professional approach and understanding of their customers' needs. The entire team from the Project Manager (Adam Beaumont) to the Sales team and even the installation engineers made working with A.C. such a pleasure. Whenever we changed our minds during the install, Adam was invaluable for the input he had in offering us advice and helping us to change our contract. The overall experience I had with A.C. was such that they will be highly recommended by me. A truly first class company!"