The dramatic, charismatic, skeleton of Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire, Wales, dating back to 1269 - was the backdrop for “Echoes In The Stones”, a mixed media performance spectacle involving large format projection, pyro, lighting, sound and a cast of over 100.
The 10-performance event which involved thousands of individuals and groups from many local communities was staged over 3 weekends and enjoyed by up to 1400 people a night. It was produced by local potter Ned Heywood and Anne Rainsbury, curator of Chepstow Museum, and directed by TV and theatre director Nick Bamford.
Heywood and Rainsbury have pioneered son et lumières in the region since 1990, their first at the bi-annual Chepstow Festival. Their initial foray into the world of scrolling large format projections - and E\T\C UK - was in 1998 for the 350th anniversary of Chepstow Castle.
They first took their production concept to Tintern in 2000 for the Millennium. At the time, Tintern was their most ambitious show to date, and also proved one of the most successful and popular, so much so that it was decided to update, expand and re-stage it again this year.
Each time they produce a new spectacular, the show progresses technically, and now it would be unthinkable to produce a historical narrative show without large format projection as the key technical and presentational element. “The results are amazing,” states Rainsbury “It gives us the ability to move the story forward in a totally unique way, and has become a local talking point.”
This year, E\T\C supplied three PIGI 6Kw projectors, all with double rotating scrollers. They were rigged in on the control platform 100 meters away from the Abbey, with one beamed directly onto the Abbey itself. The scroll artwork was precisely masked to ensure the images fitted perfectly onto the contours of the majestic Gothic style building. Constructed from Welsh limestone, the Abbey took the light exceptionally well, exuding a uniform, iridescent glow that was consistent across a vast spectrum of colors.
The other two projectors were focused onto a custom built, three-arched white screen, measuring approx 20 x 20 meters, and built in the foreground of the large performance arena. The images going onto this tended to be more literal, while the ones onto the Abbey were more scenic.
“Echoes In The Stones” recounts the history of the Abbey and details the colorful past of the area, right up to the present day. The 2003 show was updated and expanded to 90 minutes with the addition of several pieces of film to the original scrolls. Each projector ended up utilizing over 30 meters of image film!
All artwork and graphics were created by a small team of local volunteers, using computer graphics, illustrations, paintings, sculpture and collage culled from an assortment of meticulously researched archive material, photographs and historical and contemporary images. E\T\C’s Ross Ashton then processed these into the scroll artwork.
The get in-time was very tight, with just one over-night session to program the whole show before opening the next, a feat made much easier using PIGI’s new PC-based Onlycue software.
The 2003 show also moved forward for all other technical departments. Very specific customized pyrotechnic effects were created by Fireworks & FX Advanced Pyrotechnics Ltd from Newbury. Lighting was designed by Ceri James and supplied by Theatre Production Services from Newport, and sound gear was supplied by Soundbase UK, also from Newport. The show’s soundtrack was recorded by KBMF Audio at Llanvaches in Monmouthshire.