Philips Selecon sings on stage in Birdsong
With a number of very different scenes to evoke in a single environment set, designed by Victoria Spearing, Wardle had his work cut out. Lighting works with the set and direction to seamlessly shift the mood from the claustrophobic world of the tunnels under no man's land to bright outdoor scenes and the house where main protagonist, Stephen Wraysford, falls in love.
Wardle uses the PLCycs to deliver an evocative backdrop, symbolically conveying the time, place, feeling and atmosphere of each with his clever application of colour, transition and intensity. Wardle explains: "Because this play shifts so quickly between locations and time periods, we need to help the audience understand where we are. We made an early design decision to include a cyclorama in the set design, and I knew we would have to light it well. The rigging space overhead is pretty tight, so every piece of equipment has to work really hard to justify its existence: we only have 45 luminaires overstage, and the show is touring to large venues."
Birdsong has a gruelling touring schedule covering 28 venues in as many weeks across the UK. Wardle was keen to specify a robust fixture that could withstand the rigors of being moved from venue to venue with relative ease and requiring little maintenance.
"Lighting a cyc on tour can be a nightmare if you're relying on in-house flood battens: you end up spending hundreds of pounds on rolls of gel and far too much time cutting it to size, and often the result will be disappointing if the venue has under-powered equipment. If you tour your own conventional flood battens, that's a big chunk of space in the truck, a lot of money on spare lamps as well as gel."
Grant Bales Smith, sales manager for Europe for Philips Entertainment, comments: "We are delighted to hear that imaginative lighting designers like Alex Wardle can see such a myriad of benefits to specifying the PLCyc. Whether it's for a single venue where rig space is limited or a touring production where it's the space in the truck that is at premium, the PLCyc is ideal. The fixture requires very little power, no consumables and is extremely robust. Not only that it's a punchy and adaptable fixture with a small footprint that offers the full gamut of colour from the saturated to the pastels alongside an excellent dimming curve."