Percussion sensation Noise Ensemble are touring with 30 SGM Idea 250 moving lights. These have been newly purchased for the tour by Snap To Black, the tour's supplier of lighting, AV, crew and production management. The purchase was made through SGM's UK distributor Lightfactor Sales.
Lighting has always been an essential element of the show and part of the original concept since its inception at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2004. The latest tour's design is again created by Ben M Rogers – who has been involved with Noise Ensemble since Edinburgh - and is based on bringing edgy, moody multilayered drama to the performance.
For this tour however, Rogers wanted to up the production values and create a new setting and ambiance via the meticulous and well thought-out lighting. The intention with the new moving lights - a substantial rig for a theatre tour of this scale – was also to bring the aura of an arena show to a theatre space, with all the necessary movement and fluidity to compliment and contrast the dynamics of percussive performance. The result is witty, highly entertaining and intense.
The onstage touring rig, which includes a small selection of conventional and LED fixtures in addition to the SGM's is combined with front of house lighting at each venue, with the re-lights overseen by Snap To Black's James Henshaw.
Henshaw and Rogers have worked together on several previous projects in the UK and abroad. Henshaw formed Newcastle-based Snap To Black in Autumn 2008, with the SGMs constituting the company's first major hardware investment.
The show is heavily backlit. All the fixtures are on or over the stage, with 4 Idea 250 Washes and 2 Spots upstage on the deck and another 4 Washes in the boom positions, leaving the remaining 18, 6 of which are Washes, rigged overhead.
Both the position and fixtures themselves bring huge flexibility to the show, allowing the creation of a plethora of atmospheric, provocative looks which defy repetition throughout its 2 hour duration.
Shafts of heavily saturated coloured beams slice through the 10 performers from all directions, and many dramatic subtleties are added with interactive multi-gobo looks, as the lighting effectively becomes another cast member. Using lighting in this way also enables the stage set to be kept simple.
"On previous tours, Noise Ensemble had featured a mixture of different moving head sizes and types, but Ben really wanted continuity on this one, so it was definitely the right decision to go with using an entire rig of one brand and size," affirms Henshaw.
Like many, he is impressed with the sheer intensity of the Idea 250's output which is extremely pokey for a 250 fixture. The Idea's many feature options enable them to achieve both simple and complex effects quickly and easily.
He goes on to describe the price as "unrivalled" and the service and support from Lightfactor "excellent".
The SGMs are also proving to be highly reliable on tour, where they are being operated by Kevin Thwaites using a Frog II console.
Snap To Black are also providing packages of crewing and equipment including their new SGMs for the Opening Ceremony of the Games of The Small States of Europe (GSSE) in Nicosia, Cyprus in June, and on a new arena production of "Cats" staged in the Municipal Amphitheatre in Larnaca, shortly after.