Every summer the Urdang Academy decamps from its headquarters at the Old Finsbury Town Hall near Sadlers Wells to perform their summer show. For the last couple of years, the students have performed at the Hackney Empire, a long time supporter of theatrical creativity and innovation. As a showcase for the students, the event is a mixture of dance and musical theatre pieces performed by their first and second year students with the choreography, direction and design from industry professionals.
Andrew Ellis has been designing for the Academy for the last decade; this year’s lighting included a significant number of Clay Paky fixtures, namely Sharpy Washes and Mythos. “The brief from the artistic director for this show has always been to bring something new to the design each year. My own goal is to treat it not as a student showcase but as a professional show to West End standards. This year, we had a pretty tight load-in and out window so I opted to go for a complete moving head and LED specification, mainly rigged on house bars.’
‘I came to choose the Mythos slightly by accident. I had heard of them but hadn’t seen what they could do until I watched a product demonstration video. I was impressed by the range of different effects they could achieve; the zoom range and the two different prisms makes them extremely versatile. I was excited at the prospect of incorporating them into my design and I particularly enjoyed being able to take a recognisable Sharpy gobo and take it from a tight beam effect up to a wide zoom. They were rigged one each at the base of 9 two metre ladder truss drop-downs from an upstage house bar. This gave the possibility of having the units as standard backlight, or flown in to be low-level eye candy, blinders or aerial effects.”
Ellis is more familiar with the Sharpy Washes, “I like how they incorporate the Sharpy beam colours, together with good CMY mixing, a decent zoom range and extremely fast movement. There really aren’t any other fixtures that can do what they can do.”
Choosing the Mythos for a dance or musical theatre setting is quite unusual but the very diverse nature of the performances demanded an extremely flexible light show as Ellis accedes, “I needed a versatile rig that could handle everything in the show. The range of effects and the versatility of the Mythos, coupled with how we had them rigged, meant we could do so much with them. They fitted into the rest of the rig very well, and where I needed to, I could quite easily blend them in with the Sharpy Washes. I will definitely be using Sharpy Washes again, as they are a great all-round unit. I would be keen to try Mythos again in the future. I’m lighting a Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto this Christmas and I think they would be ideal for this.”
The entire rig was supplied by White Light who stock a full range of Clay Paky fixtures in addition to the other premier brands distributed in the UK by Ambersphere Solutions. The show was sold out for its whole run and as Ellis concludes, “It was generally perceived by both the college and external audience members to be the best show the college has produced.”