The extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti has moved to London’s National Theatre – and with the move from New York came the change from two lighting consoles on Broadway to a single ETC Eos on the South Bank.
The story line of Fela! unfolds through a complex hybrid of dance, theatre and music. “The lighting itself is fairly full on – it never stops moving,” said The National’s senior lighting programmer, John McGarrigle. “We have about 900 cues, just over 100 moving lights, 170 scrollers, and about 400 conventionals, along with LED units and various ancillary things like strobes and smoke. We were beta testing Eos software version 1.9.5, which includes pixel mapping – giving us the flexibility to do things with the LEDs that we otherwise couldn’t, or which would have taken days using conventional programming. Just in terms of control, we used two Eos consoles, an Ion, a remote processor unit (RPU) and four remote video interfaces (RVIs). We also use show control heavily, and Eos is responsible for triggering all video cues, and the majority of sound cues.”
With just a few days for tech, the lighting team made good use of the Eos system’s discrete multi user functionality, working on three different desks networked together. “Sometimes I would work live with Robert Wierzel, the lighting designer,” said McGarrigle, “while associate lighting programmer Andi Davis worked blind (offline) on cleaning up, or on general notes that didn’t need him to look at the stage. At other times, we’d both have live control and both be working on the same part of the show. So, for example, we might have a group of moving lights to focus; Andi would take all the odd numbers and I’d take all the evens, and we’d focus the same look simultaneously. We pushed the system extremely hard, and having the flexibility to split the workload however we chose meant we always made the best use of our limited time.”