Squaring the circle

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Model of Decorum and Dignity from Chess The Musical
Model of Decorum and Dignity from Chess The Musical

I’d always wanted an excuse to use square focusing of theatre lanterns in a lighting design and Chess The Musical gave me a very good reason. All of the downstage specials were focused in a grid of two rows of five squares using 10 SL 15/32s from front of house. My hat is off to Martin Pretty of the Hexagon staff who did all of the hard work on Bridge 2 getting the SLs in place first time.

This kind of focus meant the cast had to be well forward (pretty much on the front edge) of the box to be lit and there was a distinct but tiny shadow at the edge if they moved sideways between boxes. So accuracy in hitting marks (and explaining them) was needed. But the effort was worth it with a lot of encouraging comments.

I also had four Source 4 10-degree lanterns on a balcony truss to project gobos onto a back black gauze and cyc and seven 26-degree Source 4s with ChromaQ scrollers for stage backlight so that I could zone the action stage left and right as required (a further two were used for downstage chess tournament scenes). All of this kit was hired from Viking Stage Lighting and worked well.

The 10-degree Source 4 beams were just as I had calculated but I thought at first I had over-cooked the 26-degree backlights and specified them too tight. However some frost in each (thanks again Mr Pretty) gave just the effect needed.

Reviews on the show are excellent. Plaudits all around to Sainsbury Singers.

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