Summit Steel has appointed Chris Walker to the senior role of project manager. Many will know Walker from his time at ‘rigging.co.uk’, his own company, which specialised in major rigging projects, not least several years organising many extensive productions for Cisco Systems, the world’s largest corporation. Besides major industrial shows, Walker’s rigging background also includes theatre and concert touring; Aerosmith, The Beautiful South, and several years spent with Riverdance, to name just three.
Recently merged Blackout Triple E has appointed two well-known industry names to its management team - Eric Porter and Simon Chandler-Honor. Having worked in a freelance capacity in the industry for over 23 years, Porter joins the Blackout Triple E team as project manager, and will be the rigging aspect of the operation. Having been involved in the industry for most of his working life, Simon Chandler-Honor also joins as a project manager and will help the company develop its catalogue of national and international projects. Another new member of staff expanding the sales division, is Jonathan Langlands, who has joined as technical hire and sales manager.
The management team at Presentation Services Ltd (PSL), has purchased the assets and business of Gearhouse Group PLC’s Southern UK operation, together with the company’s North American operations. These include PSL and PSL Central, Lighting Unlimited, Set & Stage, Proquip, Presentation Graphics, Gearhouse Multimedia, ConferenceCast and Quorom Travel. In the US, both the Los Angeles and Nashville companies have been purchased. The transaction was concluded on Saturday 3 March and equity funding has been secured for the new company through 3i, with Barclays providing debt funding. The new Group is to be called Presentation Services Group Ltd; all of the companies will be relaunched under the PSL name and will continue to focus on the rental, staging, exhibition and concert touring markets. The new management team comprises Gary Davis, Chris Scadding, Darren Glossop, Irene McLean, Janet Smith, Stephen Rhodes and Nasser Abbas.
Following the news last week that the Gearhouse Group and a large number of its subsidiary operations have been placed in administrative receivership, Avesco PLC has acquired the Midlands and North divisions of Gearhouse Group PLC for £4 million. We understand that the business and assets acquired include the operations in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow and at the NEC.
PCM kicked off 2001 by continuing its on-going commitment to industry training, taking its award-winning Lodestar Motor School across the globe to South Africa. PCM’s John Jones and Tony Dickson held three Schools - one in Cape Town and two in Johannesburg. This is the second time John and Tony PCM have visited South Africa for training and Motor School purposes. The last time was in 1998 when the course was run in conjunction with SARA (the South African Roadies Association) to provide 16 of its members with much needed training opportunities. The Schools were attended by 16, 20 and 28 people respectively. Most students were relatively inexperienced, and travelled from all corners of the country to take advantage of the opportunity. PCM’s John Jones comments: "It’s really great to be back in South Africa and to add continuity to the work we started two years ago.. We continue to be impressed by the hunger to learn and the energy and commitment shown by those wanting to make a career in the production industry."
TiLE will be the official European Show of The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). TiLE is aimed at those who have an interest in the future of location-based leisure attractions, whilst TEA is an international alliance of the world's most talented and experienced professionals in the themed attractions industry. The decision coincides perfectly with the 10th anniversaries of both TiLE and TEA and recognises the close relationship that has built up between the two; the European Chapter of TEA (now TEA Europe) was launched at TiLE 1998 in Strasbourg, France, and has become one of the fastest growing chapters of TEA.
Following the announcement of the new administration and management set-up of the PSA, a substantial package of new benefits for members has been unveiled. A new membership pack has been produced which includes a personal membership identity card, pre-paid subscriptions to appropriate magazines, training information and course dates, training booking forms, a diary section, book list and contacts, plus a new, truly interactive web site which is updated daily. Birmingham-based Business Media Services Ltd (BMS) recently took over the role of administrative and membership operations of the PSA office. Bob Fox, the head of BSM, told PLASA Media: "It is our aim to ensure that members of the PSA get the maximum possible from their association with us. We have put together this new package to increase the benefits that membership brings."
Elissa Getto has joined Theatre Projects Consultants as senior theatre consultant in the Norwalk, Connecticut office. She will be a principal member of the team conducting performing arts feasibility studies and advising on a wide range of administration issues. Currently she is working on major studies for the Lincoln Centers in both New York and Dallas. Prior to joining TPC, Getto served as CEO and President of the Westport Country Playhouse, Connecticut and was also president of the Cincinnati Arts Association and an executive director of PACT Inc.
James Thomas Engineering has supplied its Spanish distributors, Madrid-based Bofil & Asociados, with a unique stage set/tower system for production company Snake.
The system was custom-designed and built by James Thomas in the UK for an extensive domestic tour by top Spanish music artists Miguel Bose and Ana Torroja. This is the first time the two have performed on a twin-headlining bill, and the tour completely sold out within hours of being announced.
The incredible aesthetics of this set were created by James Thomas’ project manager Paul Young, collaborating with stage designer Ignace D’Haese and JTE’s structural engineers The Broadhurst Partnership. It’s based on three 14m high stand-alone towers, complete with self-climbing cross beams - connected via custom sleeve blocks that interface with 20cm trussing to make up a T-shape. The cross beams contain lights and glide up and down throughout the performance. The towers themselves are constructed from 52cm SuperTower - a product specially conceived by JTE for this project.
Another key feature of the towers is that they have no guy wires. They utilise 4m outriggers and ballast weights - four points of 1250kg, and are built to withstand high winds at outdoor shows. The biggest challenge was making the towers free standing, whilst ensuring their bases were unobtrusive. It was possible to dispense with the guy wires because of a combination of the strength of the SuperTrussing itself, and the carefully calculated ballasting. The footprints of the towers are concealed below the stage, the radius
Harry Donovan and Jay Glerum are presenting a series of seminars on principles and practices of arena and stage rigging. A four-day class will run in Las Vegas from March 12-15, covering the principles and practices of arena and stage rigging. This will also feature a day's session with Rocky Paulson covering personal safety and fall arrest. Further courses will run in Orlando from May 6-9 and in Chicago from June 25-28. Donovan and Glerum are nationally recognised in the entertainment industry for their knowledge of stage and arena rigging, and this is the ninth year they have conducted these rigging seminars.
A couple of new developments on the performing arts front. Ballast Construction has won a £14m contract to build the Laban Centre in Deptford, including 13 dance studios and a 300-seat theatre, whilst Newcastle City Council is currently reviewing plans with Newcastle University to develop a £60m arts and heritage complex at the Playhouse theatre site at Barras Bridge. Leisure development continues apace: Government approval has been given for a £30m leisure development at Gloucester Docks which will include a multiplex cinema, restaurants and retail units. Associated British Ports, meanwhile, has submitted plans for a new leisure and retail development at Alexandra Dock in Grimsby, including shops, a restaurant, pub and possibly a hotel. Isle of Wight Council is considering plans from Godshill Park Developments for the creation of a 60-bedroom hotel and conference centre in Wootton and finally Leicester City has won approval to build a £35m 32,000-seat football stadium at Freeman's Wharf.
Edwin Shirley Staging is helping AC/DC to rock in Australia as part of its massive world tour. The company has won the A$250,000 contract to provide all the structures and staging for the Australian stretch of the tour that has so far seen concerts in Perth, Hobart and Canberra. The AC/DC stage is a massive 45m wide by 21.6m deep. In total 29,620kg of equipment (the weight of over 300 people) is being hung from the steel work supporting the inflatable roof. The visual extravaganza features a 30ft moving statue, six cannons that fire during the show, as well as a giant bell that moves up and down the stage, carrying a member of the band at one point of the show.
On 1st February 2001, PLASA went online with its brand new website at www.plasa.org. The new site is the latest development in the six-year history of PLASA’s online presence, and continues the organisation’s aim to provide the premier online resource for the entertainment, presentation and event technology industry worldwide.
The new site further develops the extensive and freely-available information resources offered to the industry by PLASA. Now available are fully-searchable databases allowing fast, easy and flexible access to the full listing of 450+ PLASA members; 1,500 industry news items in the online news archive; a comprehensive calendar of industry events, and over 100 titles in PLASA’s Technical Book Service.
PLASA’s Managing Director Matthew Griffiths comments: "Aside from the great new look of the site, I’m especially pleased with the new keyword-search facilities. We provide the opportunity - for free, and within a matter of seconds - to find every news item that a particular company has appeared in on the PLASA News website over the past 18 months. The same applies for searching the membership database for companies, products and services, or for finding details of worldwide industry events. This is what the industry has been demanding from a website like ours, and we’re pleased to be offering such a truly beneficial service."
In addition to providing a valuable resource to the global industry, the new site has been designed to represent all the diverse aspects of PLASA as an organisation - including the A
Ronan Keating’s solo material was showcased at the end of last year - and an arena tour has already been announced for this Spring. Mike Mann reports.
Though LD Paul Normandale’s design (based around a couple of 40ft trusses and a 33ft diameter semi-circular Tomcat MD stacking truss) was essentially traditional, the eagle-eyed lamp-spotter would have picked out a quartet of new luminaires in the rig - Normandale was putting the MAC 2000s through their paces for the first time. "This is really an early trial for me," he explained, "and Martin have been very supportive. I never go to tradeshows, and I don’t like trying anything out in the warehouse." Though the 1200W HMI unit is, says Normandale, better suited to arena shows, the more intimate environment of the Keating tour gave him a chance to see more clearly what the MAC 2000 is capable of. "So far, I’m happy - it seems to do everything that other powerful moving heads can do - plus zoom."
The remainder of Normandale’s kit list (sourced from Lite Alternative) included 18 Vari*Lite VL5s, 10 Starlite Mk5s, a dozen or so Par 64s and eight ChromaQ scrollers. A pair of Strong II FOH followspots were augmented by a single rear truss spot. Control (under the direction of Fraser Elisha) was via an Avolites Sapphire 2000 console, with a second unit "to give me something to do during the show," according to Normandale. The set, from Alan Chesters at Hangman and Lite Structures, was largely drape-based, though the addition of plush red velvet riser facings, r
The planned auction of the Dome’s contents may possibly die before it even gets going if Legacy plc’s bid for the site is not concluded on 14 February as intended. It appears that the Government and Legacy cannot agree terms, and, as a result, the New Millennium Experience Company has reviewed plans to postpone indefinitely the £10m auction, which is scheduled to start at the end of February. We understand that they may, however, proceed with the sale of some of the site’s assets. If the Legacy bid does fall through, it will mean that other potential bidders, including the Dome's chief executive, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, who has struck an alliance with James Palumbo, property firm Pilton Group and the pop impresario Harvey Goldsmith, may have their wish to keep the venue entertainment-based rather than the business park proposal that was at the heart of the Legacy plan.
For the third consecutive year ESS Australia was chosen by Accolade Events to provide structures for the Australian Day Celebrations on 26th January. The 30-minute performance was watched by an estimated audience of 240,000 people. This continues to build on ESS' success. Last year ESS Australia was appointed to provide staging for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics. This year's Australia Day concept involved four 12m x 8m screens positioned on a barge in the centre of Darling Harbour. In addition, Accolade Events asked ESS to come up with a solution that enabled them to place the PA system on the outside of the structure, rather than hanging it from a central position. The versatility of the ESS Lite truss meant that ESS were able to provide a solution. After running an engineering check, the ESS team was able to bolt on some more LT tower truss so that the PA system could be attached to the outside.
PCM has added a new webbing ladder to its inventory of professional rigging accessories. The new product replaces conventional, bulky ring and tube-style ladders with streamlined rods of carbon or glass fibre. The rods are inserted into tubular braid sleeves made from synthetic fibre which are sewn into side members of the same material for maximum strength. The product is ideal for all entertainment industry applications - theatrical, performance, industrial, live event, touring, television and film. The ladder is available in standard lengths of 10, 15 and 20 metres, and custom lengths can be produced as required.
Westsun International Inc. has announced the creation of Westsun’s first regional ‘super hub’ in Las Vegas, Nevada. When making the announcement on behalf of the company’s executive Board, Rob Davidson, CFO and acting CEO of Westsun, stated: "This is a natural step in our development strategy, one that will allow us to provide our customers with even greater access to our comprehensive equipment pool. It will also shorten lead times, thereby further improving our market-leading service to all of our clients." This new facility will operate under the Westsun Las Vegas banner. Dick Wright, vice-president of West Coast operations, will lead the operation. Anticipated to house in excess of $15 million worth of stock, the new expansion will be complete by May 1, 2001. During the transition, Dick Wright will work closely with Scott Jevons of Westsun Los Angeles. Scott Jevons will lead the Westsun Los Angeles sales team as sales manager, and ensure that it remains a key component of Westsun International’s sales and marketing efforts. Westsun remains committed to providing a high level of personalized service to its existing and new clients.
PLASA (the Professional Lighting and Sound Association) has recently introduced its latest addition to the range of benefits which it offers to members. PLASA’s new Human Resources service, set up in conjunction with CP Associates HR Consultancy, provides PLASA members with access to professional help and advice with personnel issues. The service is designed to offer practical, independent advice, based on the latest factual information available, and covers areas including contracts & terms of employment; disciplinary and grievance procedures; employee benefits; employment legislation; pay reviews; recruitment and selection; risk assessment; redundancy and absence control.
To use the service, members simply call the PLASA office, and are then given the telephone, fax or e-mail address of CP Associates. They are then entitled to 15 minutes of free advice on any one subject. Where a more detailed or specific consultation is required, PLASA has negotiated highly preferential rates for its members. These might include personnel procedure audits, contracts of employment and staff handbooks, setting a human resource strategy, and new personnel policies or systems. To safeguard the viability of the service, it can only be used by a member company’s PLASA contact or managing director.
PLASA’s Membership Services Manager, Norah Phillips, comments: “We aim to offer our members real advantages in the areas of business and information, and this is the latest in a series of new services which we have introduced with this in mind. We believe that this new fac
Navigator Systems has announce the opening of their new website www.clubnavigator.co.uk designed specifically for registered users of HireTrack and HireTrack Eclipse. This new site will enable members of the Navigator community to instantly access the Navigator Systems library of technical support documents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the company has developed a forum of issues, where all users can post suggestions, ideas, and comments. Customers will have the opportunity to share custom reports and/or utilities with other users. The company newsletter will also be maintained, keeping customers apprised of current projects, and new releases of the software.
Following the successful merger last year between Blackout and Triple E, the new company has now moved into new premises in Colliers Wood, south west London. With nearly 75% more space than previously occupied by the two companies jointly, the new offices, manufacturing and warehouse facilities offer customers a genuine one-stop shop for their drape, track and rigging requirements. The company’s recent credits including the MTV Awards in Stockholm and Madonna’s gig at Brixton Academy, Bloomburg’s Christmas Party and all motorised tracks for Princess Cruises. Blackout Triple E can now be contacted at 280 Western Road, London, SW19 2QA, telephone 020 8687 8400.
AVW Controls, a manufacturer of integrated motion control systems for the entertainment industry, has developed Impressario - a computerised system for moving theatre scenery, Impressario, which can record up to 500 cues, features a contol console and purpose-designed motion processor modules. The console communicates on a high-speed data network with up to 255 motion processors. Each processor is interfaced to a servo-amplifier or motor controller that respons to commands from the Impressario console.Ans because things don’t always happen on cue, a Penny & Giles JC030 single-axis rocker switch is incorporated into the control console to provide a manual speed override for pre-programmed scene changes.
Set designer John Napier, whose credits include Cats, Les Miserables, Starlight Express and Miss Saigon, has been named by Oxford University as the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre for 2001. Napier, who has recently returned from Broadway, where his design for Jane Eyre has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, is the first set designer to hold the chair in its 12-year history. Previous incumbents include Stephen Sondheim, Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre and Diana Rigg.Using examples from his own productions, which have included Peter Shaffer’s Equus for the Royal National Theatre, Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyceum, Lohengrin for the Royal Opera House and Steven Spielberg’s film Hook, Napier will describe how a designer turns initial inspiration into theatrical reality.
Edwin Shirley Staging has won the contract to supply all the staging for President-elect George W Bush's Inauguration ceremony this weekend (20 January) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. ESS is supplying 150 tonnes of staging, including the staging equipment originally erected in Austin, Texas for Bush's acceptance speech. This will form the staging for the swearing-in ceremony, including the main stage on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, media platforms, network television camera platform, video supports and sound delay towers. The project, which employs a core team of eight supervisors and up to 40 local crew at any one time, requires the utmost care as it is being constructed on such a historically sensitive site.