Friday, October 10, 2008

all about pitch ... black

"The Sydney opera theatre's aging lighting desk could use a drop of [magic] formula after a malfunction during the opening night last night of The Makropulos Secret, which plunged the stage and orchestra pit into darkness." SMH October 8, 2008 - 1:00PM

That could have been me (but it wasn't) - I've had the lighting desk crash before but not so publicly nor with such media attention - front page of the Herald no less! The whole incidence was a result of a Series of Unfortunate Events - main desk falls over - back up desk falls over - remedial action doesn't quite work for a few minutes - darkness on stage.

The article doesn't mention the fact that the Diva was lit by a follow spot and that the orchestra wasn't blacked out so there was no danger of her disappearing into the Pit.

As an "Aging Lighting Desk Operator" I can empathise with the Opera Theatre's Lighting Board, its long record of dedicated and reliable service obliterated in one night.
I know it's only an inanimate piece of electrical component but I really feel for this board and the bad press it received. For over 300 days of the year this "aging lighting desk" works hard to put complex shows on the stage, rarely getting shut down for longer than an hour. After 15 years of service how many other computers (or people) could claim this record?

One of the reasons it has taken so long to replace is there is no present-day equivalent that can match it for stability or flexibility. All five theatres here at the Opera House have a Strand 500 series controlling the lights for different productions with different requirements. It can do Rock & Roll, Orchestral, Avant Garde, Moving Lights, Special Effects, Audio Visual and anything else you can think of.

It may not have the glamour or Street Cred of the Whole Hog or the Grand MA but like our old '65 Chrysler Valiant Safari it just does the job to the best of its ability.

1 comment:

LynS said...

I saw the Makropulos Secret this afternoon without lighting malfunction. I loved it and was absolutely unaware of the lighting effects - except at the end where the 'ghost's' shadow lengthens and disappears - so I guess the lighting was working perfectly.