Clair Solutions helps historic theatre upgrade
Friday, 8 February 2019
fultontheatreoutsidedayThe Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
USA - The Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s long history began with its first production in 1852, launching decades of dramatic productions that cut across genres and that reflect the nation’s journey from before the Civil War to the present.
Shortly after its 100-year anniversary, the Fulton Theatre earned designation as a National Historic Landmark. Despite its age, the building has only undergone a handful of major renovations, the last one occurring between 1994 and 1995 and the one previous to that occurring in 1908. Constrained by outdated stage rigging and lighting, the Fulton Theatre worked with AVL integration firm Clair Solutions on a $1.3m upgrade.
Bill Simmons is Clair Solutions’ senior lighting designer and the person who led the project at the Fulton Theatre. “I first worked at the Fulton Theatre in 1979, when I was a freshman at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster,” Simmons explains. “I started full-time work there in the summer after I graduated and stayed on as the resident lighting designer for the next 15 years. The 1994-1995 renovation reduced its seating capacity to 680 and made a clean transition to support dramatic productions over its previous vaudeville setup. In recent years, executive artistic producer Marc Robin has made musicals a specialty of the Fulton Theatre.”
The biggest challenges arose from the building’s “vintage” wooden grid and the sheer age of the lighting infrastructure.
“Almost no theatres have wooden grids these days,” Simmons observes. “We wanted to replace their 32 hemp line sets – the old-fashioned kind with sandbags and everything – with 40 ETC Prodigy P75 variable-speed hoists. Instead of five people moving sets with sandbags, one person at a console can just push ‘go’. One reason we went with the P75s is that ETC’s compression tube system would eliminate any lateral force on the wooden grid. The grid could take the weight of the scenery, but not the weight of the hoists themselves. For that we needed to install new steel.”
The team replaced four 96-channel dimming racks with four new ETC Sensor Dimming racks – three for the theatrical lighting and one for the working lights. Twenty-four ETC ThruPower modules allow the Fulton staff to freely mix dimming, switching, and manual bypass. An ETC Sensor IQ Intelligent Breaker System supports all the new circuitry.
(Jim Evans)

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