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ETC lighting up Leicester’s Curve

4 February 2009 9.00 BST

(UK) - Curve, the spectacular state-of-the-art theatre complex in Leicester, opened to the public in November – with ETC providing the building’s lighting and making up much of the lighting rig

Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, Curve sits at the heart of Leicester’s new Cultural Quarter. The building is designed to provide a highly versatile series of performance spaces: a dividing wall between the stage of the Main and Studio Theatres can be flown out to create one combined stage, and the side walls of the stagehouse can be flown out as part of the building’s remit to expose the behind-the-scenes workings of theatre to the visiting public.

Lighting control for this versatile space presented a particular challenge to Leicester Theatre Trust, the management organisation of Curve, led by theatre consultants CharcoalBlue, lighting consultant Ian Moulds and the Leicester Theatre Trust’s Capital Projects Director Graham Lister. The control system might in one instant be dealing with three spaces (two theatres and the foyer), the next with one combined space as the walls are flown out. ETC technologies provided the solutions: the theatre has one central pool of ETC Sensor dimmers and non-dim relay modules (used to power the equipment’s stock of moving lights) that are distributed to outlets in every part of the building, with control partitioned to suit the building’s configuration.

The dimmers are entirely controlled by ETC’s Net3 ACN networking protocol. Network connectors and ETC two port nodes are also distributed around the building, allowing lighting desks to be connected anywhere and real DMX across many universes to be obtained and fed out to moving lights and other equipment. ETC’s Unison system integrates control of worklights, houselights and foyer lighting. The control infrastructure was supplied and installed by Northern Light.

For performance lighting control, the team evaluated a wide range of control systems before choosing ETC’s award-winning Eos console. “I’ve been very happy to have the opportunity to use Eos,” says Chris Flux, Curve’s technical manager for lighting. “I’ve used ETC desks before, but Eos has raised things to the next level. None of our in-house staff had experience with ETC desks but all of them have been able to use Eos with very little training, picking up the basics very quickly then progressing rapidly to more complex features. By the time we opened Simply Cinderella, Eos was controlling all of the production lighting, the video system and the foyer lighting.”

The theatre is equipped with two Eos desks plus a rack-mount Eos RPU (remote processor unit) to provide a backup and keep the show running securely even if the desks are turned off and moved around.

ETC products also form the core of the theatre’s new lighting rig, with a comprehensive range of ETC Source Four luminaires available to visiting lighting designers. The stock includes 30 Source Four 15-30 Zooms, 60 Source Four 25-50 Zooms and 80 Source Four bodies with a comprehensive stock of all lens tube types from 10 to 50 degrees, with the 19, 26, 36 and 50 degree lenses being EDLT enhanced definition lenses. The lanterns and desks were supplied by White Light.

To date, the new rig has coped flawlessly with two shows – Lift Off, the opening event lit by Tim Routledge which promenaded the audience around the entire building, and a new musical, Simply Cinderella, lit by Chris Ellis. The lighting for both shows was  programmed by Rob Halliday, making his first use of Eos.


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