UK - The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) recently staged a production of The House of Bernarda Alba, with renowned LD Declan Randall responsible for the lighting design. To assemble the lighting rig for the production, RADA drew on the support of leading equipment manufacturers including Signify, who provided four SL LEDspot 300 fixtures.
Discussing the lighting design, Randall says, “The director had a clear vision for lighting this show. The play takes place across three acts - Act 1 takes place in the morning, Act 2 in the afternoon and Act 3 at night. We wanted to show these different times of day through the lighting. There were also several abstract moments where the director wanted to be able to have a big shift in the look and feel of the lighting. Then, within that brief, I wanted to add in my own brand of magic and take the audience on a journey and offer them a more immersive experience.”
With the audience seated on three sides of the performance area, the format was “an elongated thrust, or rather like a traverse space with some seats at one end,” says Randall. “The audience were very much a part of the space.”
The four SL LEDSpot 300s were used as part of the overhead cover for the performance area. Randall says, “From here, I felt that they gave me the most flexibility in the space - they could act as specials, provide gobo cover to the stage or set and were able to cover all parts of the stage from their rigged positions. We used them a lot and they worked hard. Mostly they were used for gobo and texture covers, but they also filled in as FOH cover for some of the trickier parts of the stage and as specials when we needed to isolate.”
Randall was impressed by the output of the fixtures, their framing system and their size, which is surprisingly compact for such a feature-rich unit – a real advantage in venues where rigging space and height is at a premium. Matt Leventhall, from RADA’s lighting department, adds, “The shuttering is the best feature for me. It’s rare to be able to have the ability in such a small head to have perfectly straight edges and no ‘banana’ at full zoom. That’s a real achievement of the optics.” Randall particularly draws attention to the gobos, commenting, “Anyone who knows my work will know that I love using gobos - textured light is hugely important to me and there was no shortage of texture in The House of Bernarda Alba. And these units have loads of them. The gobos are all from the Vari-Lite catalogue and there is a good mix of break-ups and aerial beam shapes. And they had a great zoom range - the four units more than covered the stage.”
Asked about his feeling towards LED lighting fixtures in general, Randall says, “I also light architecture and have lit a number of boutique hotels and restaurants and there are also certain areas there where I will not choose LED as the light source. But generally speaking, when it comes to moving lights, I am always happy to consider an LED source and I am most thankful to Signify for assisting us on this show and letting us put the SL LEDSpot 300 units through their paces in what is arguably a tricky space and application.”