The Moving Light Company was chosen by the English National Opera (ENO) at the London Coliseum to supply automated lighting for its new production of The Handmaid's Tale, which opened this week. This is the first time that moving lights have been used in a production by the English National Opera.
Adapted from the novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale is set in the America of the future, where the government has been taken over by a religious dictatorship. The production was premiered in Copenhagen in 2000, where the creative team of director Phyllida Lloyd, designer Peter McKintosh, and lighting designer Simon Mills made use of the Royal Danish Opera's automated lighting system. Having decided that the use of moving lights as movable, high-intensity, color-changing discharge sources was essential to the look of the production, talks began with the ENO about adding moving lights to its permanent rep rig for the duration of the show's seven performances.
ENO's Nick Moran, lighting manager for the production, and Kevin Sleep, head of lighting, approached The Moving Light Company. Discussions led to the selection of the High End Systems Studio Color as the unit best fitting the show's needs as well as meeting the ENO's requirement that the chosen units be quiet. The Studio Color is well proven in this respect having been supplied by The Moving Light Company for seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company and venues including the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, as well as West End musicals.
For The Handmaid's Tale, lighting designer Simon Mills is using 11 Studio Color Ms, rigged overhead and used to provide top-, back-, and sidelight to scenes which take place around the stage and in different places on the show's revolve. Control for the moving lights was from a second Strand 550i console networked to the Coliseum's unique 500-series control system (designed to replicate the separate cue/channel keypads of their previous Galaxy controller, and commissioned and supported by fellow White Light Group member The Service Company). For show running, the second console was removed and the entire rig was run from the Coliseum's console.