UK - Located in central Leeds, the West Yorkshire Playhouse provides top-class theatrical performance facilities for audiences throughout the region and beyond. It is a producing theatre which creates its own shows for both in-house production and national touring, whilst also collaborating frequently with other major regional theatres. Numerous shows have transferred to the West End from Leeds, the most recent being Loserville which premiered at London's Garrick Theatre in October 2012.

The Playhouse also provides one of the country's most comprehensive arts education programmes, working with schools and young people in addition to offering a range of initiatives for adults and community groups. It is also a significant local employer with in excess of 200 staff representing every working discipline necessary to operate a contemporary theatre.

The West Yorkshire Playhouse facility includes two performance spaces, the 350-seat 'Courtyard' and the main 'Quarry' theatre which seats 750. The main theatre was until recently equipped with a large analogue mixing console, the use of which had been in steady decline as contemporary theatre sound designs made increasing use of the facilities afforded by digital consoles. The WYP had previously hired DiGiCo SD8 consoles for their 2009 and 2010 Christmas programmes, and this experience in tandem with an ongoing relationship with Autograph Sales & Installations convinced them that the time was right to upgrade their installed mixing console systems.

The DiGiCo SD8s did not provide quite enough inputs overall, so the obvious choice was a DiGiCo SD10. The WYP hired one from Autograph for their 2011 production of Annie, designed by Sebastian Frost, and the same FOH setup remained in place for the next show, giving the house technical team the ideal opportunity to properly evaluate the SD10 in a real-world working environment.

"The DiGiCo subsequently proved itself to be well up to the many and various demands likely to be made of it in a busy theatre, and in due course Autograph were delighted to supply and commission a new SD10 to the Playhouse during a short 'dark' period. The new console was first used on Loserville in Leeds, prior to transfer of the production to the West End," says the company.

The equipment supplied includes a DiGiCo SD10 control surface plus two SD Racks, eight 8-input cards and four 8-output cards, giving a system total of 64 mic / line inputs and 32 multi-purpose outputs which can be deployed in any configuration between the two racks as required by individual projects. This combination of inputs and outputs will handle the majority of shows produced at the Playhouse, but there is spare capacity within the SD Racks allowing the system to be expanded if necessary.

The SD10 system also includes a pair of ADAT cards to allow simple connection to the Playhouse's QLab show control system and playback media, as well as two AES input/output cards providing digital connection to the in-house Yamaha DME64. On initial installation the racks are connected to the SD10 via copper MADI links, but those will in the future be replaced by fibre-optic cables using the integrated Optocore system.

Martin Pickersgill, head of sound for the Playhouse said: "Although we have experience with some DiGiCo consoles through previous hires this is our first foray into digital ownership, and thanks to Autograph the transition has been almost painless. Having an SD10 here for Annie convinced us that it was the way to go and I'm happy that we made a good decision'. He continued, 'The update that Chris from Autograph installed for us recently has extended the functionality still further and our current show (The Wind In The Willows, designed by Mic Pool) will be the most comprehensive test for the SD10 yet, one I'm sure it will pass with ease".

(Claire Beeson)

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