London’s Arcola Theatre demonstrates that there is no artistic compromise required to deliver low energy naturalistic lighting for classic works. Mehmet Ergen’s recent critically acclaimed production of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People which finished on April 26th was lit on under 5kW.

The challenge was to light a naturalistic piece of theatre, Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, with a peak lighting load of just 5kW. For a previous show at Arcola Theatre The Living Unknown Soldier, LED and fluorescent sources were used to cut power consumption to this level, however the colors, dimming profiles, and quality of light given from the current generation of LEDs and fluorescents makes it difficult to use them in naturalistic pieces where the lighting should go unnoticed.

Lighting designer Michael Nabarro instead used a combination of lower-wattage and lower-voltage tungsten sources provided by Selecon, ETC, and White Light. Thus the overall power draw was trimmed, without artistic compromise, because:

· While in theory lower-power sources should give commensurately less lighting effect, in practice this is not the case: in one instance, using 300W vs. 650W lamps in Selecon Acclaim luminaires yielded the lighting effect required with nearly 35% energy savings.

· The design of ETC’s Source Four lamps and optics means that as well as providing the equivalent light output of a 1kW source from a 575W lamp they can be used to deliver very significant light output using just 375W lamps.

· Selecon’s 1200W 80V Pacific luminaires provide the equivalent light output of a 2500W source and with a 90 degree lens can provide extensive stage coverage from a single unit.

· Selecon’s 50W 12V Aureol luminaries, which are essentially high quality ‘birdies’ with lens tubes and light-shaping fittings, give a surprisingly large light output and thus just a small number of them can replace a much larger lamp.

Says lighting designer Michael Nabarro says, “This show has been lit on significantly less power than it might otherwise have been using traditional equipment. The quality of the finished product has not suffered and the show is in no way under lit, proof that it is possible to provide effective theatre lighting with a low energy budget.”

Director Mehmet Ergen adds, “The environmental impact of all theatre productions can be reduced without artistic compromise through careful choices and creativity. I urge all directors to demand not more light and bigger set budgets but the right light and the right set.”

The focus on sustainability for this production is part of Arcola Theatre’s ongoing work to address the causes of climate change and environmental degradation through Arcola Energy, a multi-disciplinary project which engages the creativity of the arts and sciences to find new and exciting solutions to environmental issues. Arcola Theatre’s work feeds in to the Mayor of London’s ground breaking Climate Change Action Plan for Theatres.