dbn Follows Cycle Song to the Moon

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Manchester based lighting and visuals rental company dbn continued its work with ground-breaking theatre and arts companies, with the supply of lighting equipment and design for the acclaimed recent production of “Cycle Song” in the grounds of Brumby Hall, Scunthorpe.

The brand new large scale community opera was a collaboration between Huddersfield based theatre company Proper Job and Scunthorpe Cooperative Junior Choir.

Directed by Jamie Beale, it told the emotional and compelling story of Albert ‘Lal' White, Scunthorpe steelworker and winner of countless cycling trophies including an Olympic Silver medal in Antwerp in 1920.

dbn's Pete Robinson was asked to create a lighting scheme for the show which took place over two nights to completely sold out audiences. It featured a stark atmospheric distressed industrial set designed by Rhys Jarman, a cast of hundreds and two massive cranes which were utilized in the finale.

Robinson comments, “It was a very exciting project in which to be involved, and amazing to see something as large as this evolve in such a short timeframe. It was a real tribute to everyone's passion and commitment to creating something daring and genuinely different”.

He met with Beale and Jarman, and everyone contributed their ideas and thoughts about how it should be lit and how the visual medium needed to work – given that the show started in daylight.

Robinson had three scaffolding front lighting towers added to the initial performance layout which were essential in allowing good coverage across the imposing 60 metre wide stage area.

The stage action was full-on, and included a mix of professional, semi-pro and amateur actors, musicians and choirs.

Robinson used around 40 Altman Shakespeare and Source Four profiles on the FOH gantries to pinpoint the frenetic activity.

To add texturing movement and colour to the set he added eight Clay Paky Alpha Spot 575 HPEs to the plot, also stationed FOH. These also worked for general stage washes.

The set was up-lit with 16 SGM PALCO outdoor LED floods and illuminating the set structure and the tower onstage were 28 Studio Due ArchiLED PAR type fixtures.

On the floor, scattered around in strategic positions, were 30 single CP62 floor PARs.

Six 4-lite Moles were also ensconced in the set to provide back light effects and to light the moon, when it was lifted up by one of the cranes for the finale, were four Studio Due 1.8K City Color floods. A further six 2.5K City Colors were used for universal back lighting.

“Basically I needed a wide variety of lightsources that had to work in many different contexts and roles over a large area. I needed bright and bold at the beginning of the show when it was still light and could introduce more subtlety as the sky darkened,” explains Robinson.

Battling with the bad weather during the set up, there was no time for a full run through before the first night's performance – a challenging but exhilarating way to work that certainly kept everyone on their toes!

Atmospherics were supplied via six Jem ZR 33 and 44s.

The lighting picture was completed with two FOH follow spots.

Robinson programmed and operated the show on a Jands Vista console running the latest Vista v2 software.

His crew were Eddie Marriot on dimmers, Oliver Bracey and David Mercer.

“It was great fun, challenging work that required plenty of lateral thinking and attention to detail, all resulting in some fantastic collaboration and a resounding success,” concludes Robinson.

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