Robe T1 luminaires for Jo’burg’s Market Theatre
Tuesday, 19 October 2021
robe-market-theatre-johannesburg-1o3a0246Denis Hutchinson (lighting designer & consultant), Jakes Mogale of The Install Crew, Nomvula Molepo (head of stage services at the Market Theatre) and Kevin Stannett from DWR (photo: Duncan Riley)
South Africa - Johannesburg’s Market Theatre has been on South Africa’s political, cultural, and social frontline since 1976 when it opened as an independent, anti-racist producing house at the height of the apartheid era.
Located downtown in the lively Newtown area, the Market Theatre has taken delivery of 50 Robe T1 series LED moving lights as part of an upgrade initiative emanating from SA’s Department of Arts & Culture which is looking to the future and boosting suitability across the arts.
These new Robe luminaires will be used across the venue’s three main performance spaces - the John Kani, Barney Simon, and Mannie Manim.
The T1s were a major part of a package delivered by Robe’s Southern Africa distributor DWR after winning a competitive tender to supply the venue’s new theatrical / stage lighting elements.
The tender was written and specified by renowned SA lighting designer Denis Hutchinson, brought onboard as project consultant by the Market Theatre’s then head of lighting and now head of stage services, Nomvula Molepo.
Denis has been associated with the theatre since it opened, and for him the task was very personal as well as a great honour. He spent substantial time assessing the precise needs of Nomvula and her lighting team working at the Newtown complex, also considering all the practicalities of staging and lighting shows there now and in the future.
This led to two mission-critical criteria for the moving light specification – low noise and excellent colour rendering.
The noise requirements for a theatre space like the Market with no amplified sound and producing dramas and spoken word shows where you can hear the proverbial pin drop every time, immediately excluded a substantial number of fixtures.
The high colour rendering and quality of light - especially with a programme of intense realistic drama performances - was also crucial, and these two parameters combined immediately narrowed down the field to a fairly small group of contenders.
Forty-four of the T1s will be residing in the John Kani . The Mannie Manim has two T1s and the Barney Simon will have four luminaires to help light its shows.
Four Robe Spiiders were also part of this order from DWR, which join the Market’s existing Spiiders in the John Kani.
DWR additionally supplied a quantity of smaller moving lights, generic LED luminaires, new follow spots and MA control as part of this project, which was overseen from their end by Kevin Stannett.
The installation, including cabling and all the other associated and necessary infrastructure upgrades, was completed by The Install Crew, headed by Jakes Mogale, a separate specialist company which is part of the DWR Group. Between them, Kevin and Jakes ensured that everything ran smooth, streamlined, hassle-free and as close to a ‘textbook’ installation as was possible.
Currently, some limited audience performances are taking place, and the facilities are being utilised for livestreams and other film, broadcast, and image capture scenarios plus digital and virtual events.
The Market Theatre Foundation also runs the Ramolao Makhene teaching theatre and the Market Theatre Laboratory, both located across the road in Newtown, plus the Windybrow Arts Centre which is based in a spectacular restored heritage building in Johannesburg’s famous Hillbrow district.

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