Strand 500 lands in Lithuania

Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Strand 500 lands in Lithuania
Lithuania - When White Light and theatre owner ATG announced the phased replacement of the Strand 500-series lighting consoles across ATG's UK venues with ETC's Eos and Ion consoles, the intention was that the 'retiring' lighting consoles would return to White Light to join the company's rental stock and to provide service support and spare parts for the many 500-series consoles still providing good service in venues around the UK.

One of those consoles has now embarked on a whole new chapter of its life - travelling from Milton Keynes to Lithuania where it has joined the Bohemieciai, a new opera company that is part of the Lithuanian Philharmonic Orchestra in Vilnius.

The donation was instigated by lighting designer Peter Mumford, who has lit several shows for the company and decided to try to improve their equipment stock in time for his next show, the musical Sweeney Todd. Immediately after the end of the Milton Keynes pantomime, that theatre's 530 console travelled to White Light for a full service and software upgrade. It was then delivered to Gatwick Airport to meet up with programmer John Tapster, who took the console to Lithuania as his airline baggage.

Once in Vilnius, the console went straight into technical rehearsals for Sweeney Todd at the Congress Rumas, directed by the company's director/producer Dalia Ibelhauptaite, designed by Dick Bird with lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Colin Pink. There it joined the many other evolutionary improvements Mumford has been leading as he's been lighting shows there. "Each time that I've worked there I've managed to add extra bits of equipment and new lighting positions and extensions to the grid - it's not an easy venue, very wide stage and not that deep, but a lot of imagination all round have achieved some pretty extraordinary results."

For Sweeney, John Tapster programmed the show while teaching the local crew how to use their new console - to the delight (and bemusement) of the lighting designer. "The new board was a triumph, and I am very pleased with the look of the show. Having lit three operas out there on their old console it was such a relief to be able to improve things by a hundred-fold in terms of our working methods - this one was a joy, and the crew all think that John Tapster is a 'wizard' - a Lithuanian legend I shall do my best to sustain."

"We were happy to be able to help with this," comments White Light's managing director, Bryan Raven. "Despite newer consoles being available, the 500-series are still popular workhorses that can find appreciative new homes rather than being consigned to the scrapheap, something we're always endeavouring to achieve as part of our efforts to be as 'eco-friendly' as possible."

(Jim Evans)

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