Wayne Mertz from Delta Stage Lighting
South Africa - The Michael W Smith South African Tour 2015 included performances at the CRC in Bloemfontein, Durban ICC, GrandWest Arena in Cape Town, Rhema Church in Johannesburg and the Moreletapark Church in Pretoria. With the venues ranging in size and application from church auditoriums to the convention centre, and set up different at each location, Wayne Mertz had little choice but to busk a fair amount of the show - a Robe rig - on his grandMA2 lite.

Mertz, lighting operator for the South African tour, is from Delta Stage Lighting in Nashville. The Delta motto says it all: "Not the one in the limelight, just the ones who cast it." It was the seventh show he had worked on for Michael W Smith and the first time in his career to make use of Robe Pointes.

The tour was organised by 104 Concerts who appointed Phoenix 5 Productions to assess the artist's rider and in collaboration with his production team develop a locally acceptable alternative.

"I tried to use an equipment list that would be reliable and easily available in the South African hire market, thereby making sure all the venues could at least be similar technically," said Wayne Krull from Phoenix 5 Productions.

In Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban the full technical was supplied by EPH Productions. In Bloemfontein and Cape Town, the full technical was awarded to Phoenix 5 Productions who appointed C&S to assist them.

"The production went very well, it was beautiful," commented Leon Pheiffer, owner of EPH Productions. "It was all mood and effects with a lot of beam work."

Mertz adds: "I hadn't used the Robe fixtures before in the States. I was very impressed. I've never been a big beam fixture guy and at our company, because we thought the beam would be a fad, we didn't buy into that. But these have been great! Not only tight beams but able to throw a gobo and be used as a profile fixture."

He says Delta do not do large scale tours and don't always buy the latest and greatest. "We'd rather find a good piece of gear and work it. It's not about having the best equipment, but this is what I have, it's close to what I need so let's make a show. The Robe Pointes... well throw them in your pocket and put them on a plane!"

Mertz does all programming and lighting on a grandMA 2. "We provided a plot for the South African tour, but had to move equipment around from venue to venue." While Mertz had to substitute the original design, he knew that for the Michael W Smith audience in particular, it's all about the artist. His role was to zoom in on that and create an intimate atmosphere.

A family man with an audio degree, Mertz was born in Northern Indiana and moved to Nashville for college. "When I graduated from school I went and applied to all the touring sound companies, but being in Nashville, everybody wants to be an audio guy. So I applied to one lighting company and they put me on the crew the next week."

He completed a basic theatre lighting course in college and grins. "I like to say the only two classes that I used from my audio degree are my basic theatre lighting and my golf course." The rest he learnt on the road.

Mertz worked as a freelancer in Nashville in 2006 and then in 2007 joined Delta. He has worked himself up to a System Integrations Manager in charge of installations and on the side gets to go out on shows. "I'm actually just filling in for main LD," he explained. "He wasn't able to come out of the country and said, 'Hey, do you want to fill in for me? I said, 'Sure, I would love to go to Europe and SA." After watching a Michael W Smith concert in Ohio to get the look and feel, Mertz's first performance was in the Netherlands.

"I was talking to Eric the backline tech about the differences between sound and lighting," he said. "In sound there is an art to mixing but you are given the material. In lighting you have to hear a song and say to yourself, what does that song look like? How do you convey the

Latest Issue. . .