Designed by world renowned architect Rafael ViÃ±oly, Curve Leicester features two auditoria: a main auditorium of 800 fixed seats and a smaller versatile space of 400 seats. Thirty-two tonne steel walls separate the stage from the foyer and can be lifted out to make the stage visible from street level. The open plan foyer is enclosed by a glass faÃ§ade offering views onto the café, bars and across the stage. The resulting transparency reflects the concept behind the design, which is to make the arts accessible to the public at every level.
“This is, in effect, a theatre turned inside out,” says Capital and Projects Director, Graham Lister, “designed with the express intent of celebrating the craft of theatre making. There are times when the public can witness fit-ups as they happen which wouldn't normally be possible in a standard theatre.”
This is a high profile venue with high expectations in both what it aspires to and what it requires to achieve these aims.
“We were very fortunate that the Arts Council were keen for grant money to be invested in equipment,” says Lister. “We have made a conscious decision to equip the theatre with the best available and provide a good stock of high quality equipment able to cope with the varied demands this multi-use venue would put upon it.”
Curve Leicester produces its own work in addition to receiving touring productions. Also, the transparent nature of the building and variable configurations of performing space means that lighting equipment must be both durable and adaptable, able to be moved around the building and put to a variety of uses. It is the job of Technical Manager of Lighting, Chris Flux, and his team to put the equipment through its paces.
To ensure the best equipment was chosen, a specially selected User Consultation Group, composed of lighting designers and other industry professionals, was set up. Headed by Production Electrician, Ian Moulds, the Consultation Group also included the expertise of Programmer/Lighting Designer Rob Halliday and Lighting Designer Chris Ellis, who has been long associated with Leicester Haymarket.
Drawing on their combined knowledge and experience a kit list was drawn up which would best serve the designers and technicians at Curve for many years to come.
The final installation for the main auditorium includes twenty Robert Juliat 710SX2 10/25° 2.5K profiles, forty RJ 329HPB 2.5K pebble-convex and ten RJ 329HF 2.5K fresnels, each with rotating barn doors with Robert Juliat's unique individually rotating leaves. Follow spots come in the form of three RJ Aramis 4.5° – 8° 2.5K HMI follow spots and two award-winning RJ 1200W HMI Super Korrigan 7° - 14° follow spots, each with DMX dimming control.
A total of 9 Robert Juliat Jalousie digital dimming shutters are used as a means of mechnically dimming the 4K HMI discharge units and custom beam-light follow spots used in the main auditorium. (“We have been very impressed with the Jalousie dimmers,” explains Moulds. “They do exactly what we need them to do.”) While flexibility for lighting the foyer and the smaller auditorium is provided by 70 RJ Lutins 1K spotlights, with a total of 30 fresnel- and 40 pebble-convex interchangeable lenses.
All Robert Juliat equipment was supplied by Robert Juliat's exclusive UK dealer, White Light.
“It was not a particularly difficult choice,” says Moulds. “When it comes to large profiles, all roads lead to Robert Juliat. As for the follow spots, we chose the workhorse Aramis and Super Korrigan units after their years of proven use in the touring field. I wouldn't go for any other follow spot at this range.”
This considered choice of lighting equipment, along with high quality sound, control and power flying installation, has earned Curve Leicester a place as one of the best equipped theatres in the country.
An Open Weekend on 1 -2 November gave the public a foretaste of what was to come with lighting equipment rigged across both the open main auditoria and foyer. Robert Juliat equipment will continue to be kept hard at work at a series of celebratory opening events in early November. This is followed by an inaugural season, including two world premieres, which stretches into 2009.
More information on Robert Juliat products can be found at www.robertjuliatamerica.com