Astera for Fiach drive-in drama in Connemara
Thursday, 24 September 2020
astera-fiach-img8338editsmall-1-pAccommodating 45 cars at the Connemara site, each show was sold out for the two-week run (photo: Sean T O'Meallaigh)
Ireland - Fiach is a new work by Philip Doherty that unites the disciplines of theatre, cinema and comedy in a live onstage and in-car drama, accompanied by large format video visuals, powerful sound system and theatrical lighting all in a Covid-safe drive-in viewing environment.
It is also an example of how a kit of eight Astera Titan Tubes, used with thought and invention by lighting designer Mick Murray can go a long way.
The Irish-language work was presented (with English surtitles) by Fíbín in association with An Taibhdhearc in a car park at Baile na hAbhann, Connemara, County Galway, starring award-winning actors Fionnuala Flaherty and Dara Devaney.
Producers Fíbín asked Mick Murray to create the lighting, video and staging designs. With an impressive array of idiosyncratic mixed media projects to his credit, Mick jumped at the chance and reached for Astera Titan Tubes – supplied by lighting rental and installations specialist Cue One – as a practical, powerful and aesthetically pleasing lighting solution.
Mick and Philip (Doherty), who also directed his work, discussed numerous elements and ideas. The requirement was for a mix of cinematic and theatrical lighting techniques and treatments, and for this to work properly, the quality of light was “hugely important” stated Mick.
As Philip really wanted to immerse the audience in the show, in the stage design Mick positioned the cars – the dealer’s Ford Capri and the policewoman’s unmarked Nissan Primera vehicle – on staging decks with the actors inside as far as possible into the audience.
Four Astera Titan Tubes were rigged in the two cars and the other four on the four ‘scenic’ streetlights complete with custom-designed 3D printed hoods.
The four dynamic ‘streetlights’ completed the desired physical immersion effect extending from the edges of the car stages out through the lines of audience vehicles pulling them into the action.
Inside the two chase cars, Mick needed both key and effects lighting.
The two Titan Tubes were the main key lights, augmented with fill coming from LED strips placed on the sun visors and dashboards. In the police car, the Titans were secured either side along the top of the front doors, and in the Capri, one was in front and one on the left.
Live camera feeds from the cars were beamed up onto a billboard style projection screen behind the cars.
Much of the pre-recorded video content and close up shots – feet on accelerators, hands of steering wheels, etc., plus some additional optical trickery – was also shot on site during the rehearsal period, all coordinated and compiled by Mick and programmed onto a Smode media server.
“The Astera units were pixel mapped for effects to run over their static show states which were varied slightly in colour and intensity, always keeping the camera image looking good,” commented Mick, who was delighted with the results.
The streetlight effects threw the atmosphere and tension out in the audience / car area via slow animated pixel chases on the Titan Tubes, all helping to ramp up the energy and excitement so the audience felt they were part of the chase.
All eight Titan Tubes were run powered, via thin DC cables back to the Titan charger located in the boots of the cars, and were programmed, together with the other lights, via an ETC Ion lighting console by Ritchie Lambert who was working as Mick’s assistant LD. The car headlights were also DMX controlled and run through the lighting desk for the performance.
Accommodating 45 cars at the Connemara site, each show was sold out for the two-week run, and there is now talk of touring it as a fully self-contained Covid-safe drive-in drama production.

Latest Issue. . .

Tweets from our Friends