Anolis Busts Ghosts at Woodchester Mansion

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Lighting designer Andy Webb of Tigz Productions utilised 47 Anolis ArcLine RGB LED strips plus Robe ColorWash 750 AT Tungsten and ColorSpot 700E AT moving lights in a ghost-busting lighting scheme for a special production of “Goth”, staged at Woodchester Mansion near Nympsfield, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Woodchester Mansion is an enchanting unfinished Gothic revival mansion house that was created by William Leigh, abandoned by its builders in 1870 and never completed. It is also one of the most haunted houses in the UK!

The house provided a perfect, hugely atmospheric site specific location for the show created by youth theatre group Dramarama, based on stories and folklore from the Mansion. It was a promenade performance taking place in 13 different locations on 3 levels around the rambling shell, including the chapel, the cellar and numerous galleries and unfinished rooms.

Tigz was asked to provide lighting and all necessary technical support – including power and distribution.

Lighting was an absolutely essential component of the performance, almost taking an acting role as the dramas unfolded. With all the production's requirements and services having to run off one 150 KVA generator, LED lighting was an obviously choice for its expedient power consumption.

Webb also wanted to highlight Woodchester's stunning architecture, including the moody vaulted ceilings, long corridors, interconnecting galleries and staircases, arches, all steeped in the slightly spooky, ecclesiastical charisma of the house – left with a myriad of floors, rooms and spaces missing.

He's used ArcLine on shows before – although never specifically to illuminate architectural features – but he knew it would be ideal, and it is one of the many more conventional applications for which it's been designed.

The mix of ArcLine 36s and 12s were ensconced an a plethora of nooks, crannies, corners, stairwells, window sills and Victorian ‘builders gaps' left to let history take its course. They were used to up, down and cross light various areas around the house. “ArcLine was an extremely versatile option” enthuses Webb, who's design accentuated the quirky geometry, fabulous lines and natural aura of each individual space.

The LED lighting – all supplied via enlightened in Bath - imbibed it with a special new luminescent magic, and Woodchester Mansion's soft sandstone is an ideal surface for taking lighting and colour of all types.

The 47 Anolis fixtures were each driven by individual ArcPower 36 drivers, and programmed into a Road Hog Full Boar console, with the whole house divided into 13 separate DMX zones.

For the two main performance spaces on the ground floor the Tigz crew rigged two sets of Zenith wind up towers, each with a minibeam truss to provide additional high level lighting positions. The dining room featured 4 Robe ColorWash 750 AT Tungstens. “I needed an absolutely super-silent rig in this room,” explains Webb, “As many of the actors were very young, so it was essential their voices could be clearly heard”.

He also needed a warm wash light with a nice ‘radiant' quality of light output that would fill the room evenly, covering up to 30 performers at a time.

There were also various Source Fours and 1K fresnels used for key lighting dotted around the performance rooms, all of which were lit with Anolis to breathe colour and atmosphere into the scene. Webb's physical rigging layout for each room deliberately ensured that the lightsources were concealed and out of view from the audience as they watched and engaged in the action.

Woodchester Mansion's magnificent exterior was lit with combination of blue MBI fixtures, overlaid with gobos from 4 Robe ColorSpot 700E ATs housed in weather domes, which also had a very slow, almost imperceptible animation wheel movement applied. This gave it a very subtle and slightly edgy – almost ghost like – texture.

The Tigz lighting and technical crew consisted of Production Electrician Jim Hobbs, joined by Chris Gunnell, Adam Tye, Phil Nail, Will Mercer and Alex Sharp. They reckoned they ran approximately 4.5 kilometres of power and data cable around the venue for the 5 performances, which took place over two weekends and were enjoyed by over 500 visitors.

There were no reported ghost sightings during the event … so Woodchester Mansion will continue to retain its secrets and allure for many future generations.

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