Avolites’ new Diamond 4 Elite console makes its UK debut on “Da Boyz”, a new energy-fuelled rap musical that’s taking audiences by storm at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East.
Lighting designer Dan Cook specified the D4 Elite soon after he was approached to light the show. He knew it would be the ideal tool for the job and relished the opportunity to utilise the full power and flexibility of the latest Avolites creation! With the show now up and running, the day-to-day lighting operation is being looked after by various Stratford East operators under the direction of Chief LX Stuart Saunders.
“Da Boyz” – where the music is the message – has a raw, minimalist set – and director Ultz wanted it to look and feel like a hip hop concert. Consequently, lighting is vital to setting the mood, tone and ambience of each scene.
Cook’s approached the show with a dual vision, lighting it both as a club night and a theatre show. He combined the two very different operational oeuvres of freestyling à la club mode on one hand, and a strict theatrical cue structure on the other. All the time, he was aware that the theatre-trained operators would need a familiar replay set up.
All, of this was no problem using the D4 Elite! Cook had also been involved in the D4 Elite’s final software beta testing, and was well aware of the desk’s creative capabilities and huge flexibility.
Before the start of “Da Boyz”, Avolites made a console available to Cook, enabling him to set up, Visualise, consider and programme vast chunks of his lighting ideas for the show – without even getting into the theatre!
He’s made full use of new functions like the ‘Cue List’, which allows Shapes (from the famous Avolites ‘Shape Generator’) to be included into Cues and Chases.
Other cool, D4 Elite features, explains Cook, are ‘Fixture % Overlap’, allowing the easy creation of beam or colour ripple effects using single cues, by staggering the start of each fixtures fade and ‘Chase Step % Overlap’ enabling different chase steps to ‘run into’ each other for those epic fluid, trippy, liquid effects.
Cook maintains that for all the new console’s functionality and aesthetics – it still feels and behaves very much like an Avo desk. Avolites was very aware during the extensive R ‘n’ D period involved before the launch of the new Diamond 4 range, that some fundamental, ‘classic Avo’ elements should be maintained. The tactility, hands-on feel and playback accessibility of the new consoles was absolutely paramount.
Everything – Cues, Chases, Scenes, etc., and even the dimmers can be named on the D4 Elite. Cook took full advantage of this, and used dual LCD monitor displays to view all fixtures and dimmers all the time.
A new, improved ‘Off’ function means the operator can hit Chase, Memory or Cue and easily switch off whatever they want – ideal for fast modifying on-the-fly.
The desk also has an inbuilt Avolites Visualiser system, which can be run simultaneously to the console. Being Windows XP-based, software or personality upgrades are easily installed either via floppy disk, CDR or, if connected, the Internet.
Cook’s operating crew at Stratford East love the console for it’s explicit labelling facilities – allowing cue numbers, plus other ‘fuzzy’ information to be added into a cue display – for easy recognition. The cue system also allows cues to be easily cut, pasted and swapped around to anywhere else on the console that’s convenient for the show’s operation. Cues can be run on the pre-set fader banks if desired – instead of (traditionally) the Masters along the bottom row.
Cook utilised Mac 250+s and Mac 300s, supplied by Entec for the primary effects lighting in “Da Boyz”, plus a miscellany of house conventionals – Sil 30’s, Source Fours, fresnels, cycs, etc, all of which are hung on the house bars and run off the D4 Elite.
All photos are © Louise Stickland
Notes on “Da Boyz”
Da Boys is a new 21st century urban performance musical based on Rodgers’ and Hart’s “The Boys From Syracuse”, adapted by DJ Excalibah, MC Skolla (from Hip-Hop Duo Dirty Diggers) and Ultz , who also directs.
For the first time in musical theatre history, the rights were gained to update a musical still held in copyright. DA BOYZ mark the end of the celebrations of Richard Rodgers’ centenary year, bringing the magic of his music to a young audience through hip-hop, R’n’B, bashment and garage remixes.
Theatre Royal Stratford East is strongly committed to the revitalisation of musical theatre in the UK and bringing it into the sphere of current popular culture. With this in mind, the theatre embarked on its Musical Theatre Workshops Programme in 1999, an annual four-week residency uniting talented writers and musicians. “DA BOYZ” is the first of a series of projects bringing urban music to the Theatre Royal’s stage.