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White Light Puts on a Performance at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Based in Glasgow, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a world-leading conservatoire of music, drama, dance, production and film. Founded in 1847, it now has more than 1300 students studying undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and, pre-Covid, staged over 600 live performances across its professional venues throughout the year. It recently opened a brand-new rehearsal and performance space for its students and approached White Light (WL) to provide the lighting equipment.

As part of its Covid-19 response plan, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland realised that building occupancy numbers and social distancing were going to play a key part in ensuring it could continue to deliver technical training and support to all its students. The decision was made to transfer a rehearsal studio into a new, fully-equipped performance space that would allow both performance and production students to keep learning throughout the pandemic and beyond. Dave Evans, Lighting Tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, explains: “The equipment chosen would be used across theatrical plays, dance and musical theatre, and ensure that all of these production styles could also be filmed; something that has become a necessity with live audiences at a minimum. Therefore, we had to look for equipment that could provide both a high quality of light, but also be a useful teaching and learning tool for developing technicians and lighting designers”.

Prior to this upgrade, the rehearsal studio had a simple overhead grid of 48mm pipe, providing a rigging area, and was equipped with 24 budget range RGB LED Par64 units, which could provide some very basic top light during rehearsals. Dave comments: “The space is of quite a considerable size for a rehearsal room – 12m width by 18m length and a height to 48mm pipe grid of 6m, making it an excellent location for a newly-designed performance venue within the Royal Conservatoire. Whilst we had trussing already in place, the new venue would still require a full range of PA, cabling, drapes and lighting, to bring it up to being a full working theatre”.

The Royal Conservatoire has a long-standing relationship with WL, and so when they started to look at options for choosing the new lighting infrastructure, they immediately approached the technical solution experts. Dave explains: “We keep up-to-date with product innovation and development across the industry to give the students as wide a knowledge base as possible, and through this, we had been aware of a range of products that may be available. We approached Jonathan Haynes, WL’s Business Development Manager, who we have worked with for many years and, through our discussions, realised the best fixtures to fulfil both our performance needs and student learning were from the ETC ColorSource range. This range allows us to have Profile, Fresnel and PAR-type fixtures, all utilising the same colour engine system, thus giving a really user-friendly nature to the rig.

Dave adds: “Linking this to an ETC Eos console system also heightened the usability of the system. We also purchased an Avolites Powercube dimming system to allow integration of tungsten sources into the system, allowing further diversity to the capabilities of the rig, and allowing the student lighting teams to design and rig with a wider range of fixtures already in RCS stock”.

Jonathan comments: “It has been a pleasure working once again with the team from RCS to provide what is an incredibly versatile rig that will further enhance their shows. The ColorSource offering continues to be a perfectly affordable solution and, with the 10 year warranty, it also provides reassurance of long term reliability and support”.

Since the space began operating in January 2021, it has hosted several productions, from Shakespeare to devised performance pieces to acting showcases; all of which have been professionally filmed. Working alongside professional lighting designs and production electricians, the students have had the opportunity to rig and operate these productions, and see how the pieces can be designed for stage, but also ensure they can be filmed for digital sharing.

Dave concludes: “We are really happy with our investment, with the ETC ColorSource units offering exactly what we required and ensuring our students and technical team have as wide variety of equipment as possible. As always, a big thanks to WL and their team for their advice and support every step of the way”.