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Clay Paky lighting designer sessions are a sell out at Mediatech Africa 2015
Lighting Designer
Durham Marenghi & Paule Constable
Photo Credits
Sarah Rushton-Read

South Africa – One of the most popular and well-attended events during the biennial Mediatech Africa 2015, held in July, were the Lighting Designer Sessions, sponsored and organised by Italian lighting manufacturer Clay Paky.

Presented by multi award winning theatre and opera designer Paule Constable and large-scale arena spectacular lighting designer Durham Marenghi, both sessions were quickly over subscribed from the moment they were announced and two further sessions were quickly scheduled to absorb the overflow. Renowed lighting designer Tim Dunn

Staged at The Dome at Northgate, Johannesburg, the biennial Mediatech is the largest media and entertainment technology trade show for southern Africa. The exhibition was therefore the ideal platform for the two well-known international lighting designers to discuss their respective experiences and knowledge with their South African counterparts.

Constable, who is also Associate Director of the National Theatre, London, talked passionately about her preferred collaborative approach to the design process and illustrated this with images of her recent designs for shows including the award winning ‘Warhorse’ and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’.

In contrast Marenghi focused on the challenges and joys in delivering theatrical style lighting designs for huge stadium events. He drew on his experiences at the Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies, along with other large scale sporting events in Turin, Beijing and Sochi, to exemplify the techniques he employs.

Blessing Mudehwe, Lighting Designer for Celebration Ministries International said: “I have been searching for mentors like Durham and Paule to provide such invaluable advice so thank you.”

Jade Manicom, who recently completed an honours course specialising in lighting design, also enthused about the sessions:

“It was fascinating for me to hear about lighting design on two very different scales. It was interesting to see how these established and well-respected industry professionals approach the job and I will definitely be using some of their techniques in my own work.”

Both Constable and Marenghi enjoyed the opportunity to meet local designers Tim Dunn of Gearhouse South Africa, a leading technical supplier and lighting designer and theatre consultant Denis Hutchinson. Both designers joined the first session to share some industry insights:

Constable comments; “I loved meeting and listening to Tim and Denis. There was a prevailing sense of a new and fresh movement happening which was very energising.”

Marenghi agrees: “Tim gave us a fascinating understanding into the lighting of many of South Africa’s recent historical moments and also stressed how important Gearhouse considers training to be for young LDs, programmers and technicians alike,”

“It was also good to listen to a top SA LD like Denis talk about his work in theatre both as LD, associate and programmer. It’s quite a rare thing to find such a multi-disciplined individual in the UK and Denis a good example that, as the ladder is climbed, egos should be left firmly on the stage!”

Denis Hutchinson said: “Economic reality means that most designers in South Africa seldom (if ever) get to see shows in the rest of the world. Sessions like these create contact with the world at large, which I believe is very healthy. Theatre is an international form and we can all benefit from a cross pollination of ideas. Any opportunity for people to learn from others has to be encouraged not just at the conceptual level of design, but also at a more pragmatic level; I’d love to see some input from really good production electricians and programmers as well.”

Both Constable and Marenghi expressed their pleasure to have been sponsored by Clay Paky and each commented that they derived a great deal of satisfaction from the visit:

“It was an amazing trip – full of extraordinary, life affirming moments,” states Constable. “It was a real privilege to meet our colleagues who work in and support the lighting industry of South Africa. I enjoyed hearing about the challenges they face and the projects they’re working on. I would therefore like to say thank you to everyone who made this possible.”

Marenghi echoes the sentiment, saying: “I would like to say a big thank you to Clay Paky for affording Paule and myself the opportunity to visit and speak to the South African lighting community. It was wonderful to have a chance to pass on some of our collective experiences from the work we have done internationally and also hear from designers working in SA. I was hugely humbled to discover that the trip was truly worthwhile, when I received an email from one of the attendees that said: ‘Thank you for the awesome presentation and insights you gave us at Mediatech 2015. You have touched my life, shaped my future and ignited my passion in lighting design.’”

Pio Nahum, CEO of Clay Paky said: “We are delighted to be able to sponsor such a popular and well attended event during southern Africa’s important industry event – Mediatech.  The show is a one-stop hub for media and entertainment technology and we are tremendously grateful to both Paule Constable and Durham Marenghi for making time in their busy schedules to attend the show and share their wealth of skills and knowledge with our valued friends in southern Africa.”

Simon Robinson owner and event director for Mediatech concurred: “The programme offered attendees a fascinating insight into two very different lighting disciplines but also very clearly demonstrated the commonality in the issues faced by lighting designers working across all disciplines the world over. This made it extremely relevant for the Mediatech audience and we are extremely grateful to both Paule and Durham for adding in the extra sessions at short notice.”

Mediatech Africa brings together professionals involved in broadcast, film and AV; production and post-production; animation and new media; studio and recording; pro DJ and more for three days of networking, updates and new technology discovery.

DWR, Leading Supplier of Stage Lighting Equipment, is the Clay Paky distributor in South Africa.