HSL On The Fringe Again

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Popular Blackburn, UK, based leading lighting rental company HSL supplied three trucks worth of lighting equipment to C venues for the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival - totalling around 650 generic lighting fixtures and 34 moving lights.

C venues is one of Edinburgh's leading independent venue producers, curating and hosting the Fringe's largest theatre-based programme, an eclectic mix of drama, dance, physical theatre, musicals, cabaret, circus and visual and performance art. Over 200 shows and events took place during the three-and-a-half week Festival period.

The kit was being deployed throughout C venues' 25 performance spaces at six venue locations, including bars, outdoor areas, found performance spaces and other non-conventional theatres,.

The project was managed for HSL by Mike Oates, working closely once again with C venues' production manager Richard Williamson and their head of technical David Salter. HSL has worked with C venues at Edinburgh for seven years, and this was the most equipment supplied to date for a season.

Oates commented, "We always look forward to Edinburgh Fringe Festival and being part of all the vibrancy, enthusiasm, dynamics and incredible new work that is produced there each year. Once again, it was a pleasure working with Richard, David, Hartley and the C venues team".

C venues' artistic director Hartley T A Kemp and Richard Williamson created production lighting designs for all the spaces, which included the four theatres at the main C venue in Chambers Street, which is also the C venues' administrative HQ for the duration of the festival.

Adjacent to C is the fire-damaged shell of the C soco building with 6 studio theatres, while to the rear is the C soco urban garden, a major exterior space. This year, for the first year, C venues also ran the C eca venue at the Edinburgh College of Art, with a large main theatre, studios and an extensive exterior. Other C sites across town included C aquila and C too.

All the lighting had to be hugely flexible and genuinely multi-purpose to cater for the wide range of performance genres - from physical art to musicals - and the dynamics of the individual shows presented in any format of space - from proscenium to promenade to studio - with up to ten different shows a day playing in some spaces.

A wide variety of kit was supplied. This included Robe ROBIN 300 moving lights - whose small size and low power consumption made them ideal for the smaller-sized theatres. There were a myriad of Source Four Profiles, PARs and Juniors, standard PARs, fresnels, the latter primarily a mix of Selecon Acclaims mostly lamped at 300W in the smaller spaces, and some 1200W Ramas and 2KW Arenas.

LED fixtures were increasingly utilised site-wide, a great help in reducing power consumption and heat in the smaller spaces. HSL also supplied a few cases of Pulsar ChromaStrips, which were used in all sorts of places and contexts, particularly for shaping and framing architectural elements in and around rooms.

Certain areas - like the urban garden required special treatment when it came to lighting. This featured an eclectic mix of Source Fours, colour-changing units and moving lights. Lighting was a crucial element as the urban garden is one of the Festival's most popular social and gathering hubs. It functioned as a family friendly space during the day, transforming into a busy, buzzing bar open till 3 a.m. nightly, as well as hosting numerous performances. The illumination had to ensure it kept vibrant and atmospheric constantly - daytime, dusk and darkness - whatever the weather!

The kit in the urban garden amounted to 24 Source Fours, outdoor PAR cans, SGM Ribalta LED battens, MBI 400W floods, Studio Due City Colours which were washing up the walls, Robe ColorSpot 1200E ATs - in Weather Domes - used for gobos and texturing work around the walls and architectural features, together with Robe ColorSpot 170 ATs, Robe LEDWash 136s and a bunch of generics for inside the marquee. The visual picture was completed with several hundred metres of festoons.

The outside space at ECA also had more Robe LEDwash 136s, with Pulsar ChromaStrips picking out the bar fronts and Robe CitySkapes grazing up the walls.

Lighting control for all venues was mainly via C venues' own selection of desks.

In addition to around 650 ways of dimming - predominantly Avolites - supplied via 24 racks including some Power Cubes, HSL also supplied mains and power distribution as required, including extensively for C soco and its six studio spaces and the urban garden, which were entirely generator fed.

HSL's technician Ellen Connolly went to Edinburgh for a week to co-ordinate the gets-ins with the C venues' crews. David Salter reported that the fit up itself was the biggest challenge, with a really hectic timescale for everyone, lots of spaces to be rigged with lighting and technicals and the weather to contend with in the outdoor areas!

Once the theatres and spaces were up and running, each company/show had four hours of technical time at the start of their show run to plot lighting, sound and prepare everything - and that's it! Once operational, the daily between-show changeovers in the main venues were a speedy 5 to 10 minutes each! There was no room for error, and the reliability factor of any equipment involved was essential.

HSL has now supplied C venues at Edinburgh for seven years. It was David Salter's first time working in this capacity at the Festival and also his first time with HSL, on which he commented, "They have been excellent in all ways. Mike is very thorough, helpful, supportive and a joy to work with. He understands exactly how festivals function and how to deal effectively and efficiently with things like last minute requests and unforeseen requirements that arise."

For more press info on the HSL Group, please contact Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679/+44 (0)7831 329888 or Email louise@loosplat.com. Contact HSL direct on +44 (0)1254 698808, ‘info@hslgroup.com' or check www.hslgroup.com.

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