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GrandMA goes to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

The UK's Royal Shakespeare Company has invested in six new grandMA2 light control consoles, together with two MA NPUs (Network Processing Units) and ten MA 2Port Nodes.

The Royal Shakespeare Company – among the UK’s most prestigious theatre producing houses – has invested in six new grandMA2 light control consoles, together with two MA NPUs (Network Processing Units) and ten MA 2Port Nodes as part of a complete update of their lighting control systems at the newly refurbished Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) and Swan Theatres, both in Stratford-on-Avon.

MA Lighting says that it was chosen after a comprehensive two year evaluation period, which included extensive ‘field trials’ and involved the RSC’s Head of Lighting Vince Herbert plus his entire departmental team of 18, including programming specialists, operators and technicians.

Three of the new consoles are deployed in the RST and The Swan. In both venues, the first one is the active desk, the second is for backup and media server programming, and the third is located in the stalls, used for focusing and tech sessions plus for offline work during non-technical periods.

One of the principal reasons for the Company’s choice, according to MA Lighting, was that they wanted a future-proof lighting control solution with plenty of headroom for upgradability to incorporate powerful new features and functionality yet to be developed in the fast evolving world of stage and live performance technologies.

With video integration and control specifically much in mind, MA Lighting says that the RSC were particularly impressed with the grandMA2 platform’s ability to seamlessly integrate video sources of all types into the visual equation, and making these straightforward to program.

Another vital factor, it seems, was that it was identified some years ago that 3D visualisation would become increasingly important in programming and particularly in transferring shows. That the MA Lighting system comes complete with excellent 3D visualisation capabilities onboard was also a big plus point in the RSC’s decision to buy into grandMA2, according to MA Lighting.

Touring and transferring shows were other major considerations. With many of the RSC’s productions moving around the globe, the Company needed an easy and straightforward method to swap lighting show files between different venues. Using grandMA2 consoles and having MA’s support network available worldwide, they were again confident that wherever the shows travel, they will be able to have the very best lighting playback system available to faithfully reproduce the work.

At the RST, the grandMA2 light will be controlling approximately 70 moving lights and about 300 generics – primarily Source Four profiles and Source Four PARs – most with scrollers. The number of moving lights is expected to increase to around 100 in the near future. In the Swan Theatre there are currently about 20 moving lights and another large generic rig – also with most instruments fitted with scrollers.

The first production to use the new grandMA2 system at the RST is King Lear directed by David Farr, designed by John Bausor with a lighting design by Jon Clark.

‘King Lear’ picture copyright Manuel Harlan