France's Théâtre National Populaire has reopened with an extensive array of new ETC equipment (photo © Christian Ganet)
France - The Théâtre National Populaire (TNP) in Villeurbanne, north east of Lyon, has reopened following extensive refurbishment - with an wide array of new ETC lighting, power distribution and control.

Previously, the TNP operated with just 56 ways of ETC IES SineWave dimming power in the multipurpose black box theatre. Following completion of refurbishment, its Grand Theatre has become the best equipped SineWave theatre in France - with 632 channels across the two halls.

The equipment was supplied by ETC's French distributor, Avab Transtechnik France. Avab's sales manager Jean Louis Pernette explains, "The theatre's technical director, Jean-Michel Dubois, wanted to use the latest and most advanced technology while keeping maintenance as straightforward as possible. He started by testing a single rack of ETC IES SineWave dimming to see how it performed, before taking the big step of moving across.

"SineWave supplies a very smooth power signal to the lamps, eliminating noise and harmonics. This means the audience gets to enjoy more of the performance, with less distraction from the lamps around them; even the portable dimming units themselves are silent, since they are convection cooled. And because of the way sine wave dimming works, lamp are intrinsically protected against short circuits."

As part of the refurbishment, Ethernet cabling has replaced all the DMX across the building; four new ETC Congo family control desks offer the theatre's preferred style of working. Congo was designed to provide clean functions for everyday theatre work with conventional lights, plus advanced control of hundreds of moving lights, without mouse operations or computer menus.

Says Pernette, "The team at the theatre was keen to use the latest lighting technology, installing energy efficient Selador Lustr LED fixtures as part of their stage lighting, alongside ETC Source Four Revolution intelligent fixtures and Source Four Zoom luminaires.

"We supplied a range of different Selador lens types to vary the beam angles, so that the lighting director would have the greatest possible versatility. They were also impressed with the x7 Color System, which provides a wide range of colours while rendering skin tones in a very natural way.

"For the house lighting in the Great Hall, we installed an ETC Unison Paradigm system, allowing local control of the house lights from button stations around the building as well as via the control desk. We connected it to the same system as the Congo desks, so that the lighting operator can control both systems from the control room.

Pernette concludes, "We've had great feedback both from the technicians and the public, who all helped to specify the system. And Paradigm's LightDesigner software really helped them get the house lighting just as they wanted it, with a minimum of difficulty. The theatre has a policy of working with community associations and committees so that everyone gets the opportunity to be a part of its working."

The TNP, or People's National Theatre, hosts a range of drama productions as well as educational visits, corporate events and community events. The 667-seat main hall - the Roger Planchon room - is complemented by several other spaces, including the black box Jean Vilar room. The TNP was also responsible for establishing the hugely popular Avignon Festival in the south of France.

(Jim Evans)

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