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YOUR NEWS – ALD Name-Change

YOUR NEWS – ALD Name-Change

Image: The executive committee of the newly-voted-for ALPD


By Jo Boyd

The organisation known as the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD) will represent its members with its new title, the Association for Lighting Production and Design (The ALPD).
Following the association’s Extraordinary General Meeting, held on 17 July 2021 – a year that also happens to commemorate the ALD’s sixty full years of pulling together as a collective of lighting professionals – the membership has voted in favour of a name change that demonstrates both the association’s breadth of membership and its appreciation of every lighting role in the design and production process.
Chair of the association, Johanna Town, explains the importance of this change of name: “While the ALD, which was founded 60 years ago for lighting designers, has for some time included production electricians, programmers, lighting managers, assistant electricians, associate designers, lighting educators and students, hire companies and manufacturers, we never acknowledged it in our name. It’s a real celebration of the association’s 60th year that our name now fully respects those we represent.
“Recent years have shown us the strength we can pull on as an association. Whilst Saving Stage Lighting or working to offer support to the whole lighting industry through the Covid-19 pandemic, we have played an integral role in mobilising everyone. We know we are stronger together as an association to support everyone in the lighting team and now we have a name that says that.”

YOUR NEWS – There’s a White Light at the End of the Tunnel

YOUR NEWS – There’s a White Light at the End of the Tunnel

Above: Bryan Raven Managing Director, White Light Ltd. White Light is a true industry leader… a multi-faceted company employing over 250 people with an annual turnover of £37 million that covers every area of entertainment and the corporate event industry.

Well here we are …somehow…

I suppose this is what people call ‘mixed emotions’, in the sense that I really am quite flabbergasted/ concerned that we are almost in the fifth month of the year. At the same time, it’s a month in which venues up and down the country can start to think about reopening, with a few taking the plunge straight away.
I personally cannot wait to get back inside a theatre and was just telling someone the other day how strange it is to think back to the things which may have irritated you in a pre-Covid world but which you would now gladly experience in a heartbeat: the epic queues to the toilets at the interval, having your view of the stage blocked by the person in front’s head as well as paying through the nose for a drink from the theatre bar.
I, for one, will relish the whole experience when I go see my first show next month and am genuinely looking forward to taking this initial step back to normality.
At White Light, for the first time in months, we’ve had people pre- rigging in our warehouse and it’s been fantastic to see and speak to crew members who are clearly so eager to get back to work.
We were also given the fantastic news last month that we will be receiving £1million from the second round of the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. We fully appreciate how fortunate we are to be in this position and want to thank everyone who sent across their well wishes as we really do appreciate them.
We’d also like to once again thank organisations such as #WeMakeEvents who have truly worked tirelessly to ensure our industry has a voice and continues to do so. We also recognise that more work is needed to help people obtain money through the third round, such as our brilliant freelancers, and will continue to fight for this wherever we can.
Please keep an eye on our social media channels over the next few weeks as we will be announcing plans to reconnect with you all in person over what we’re currently calling ‘Afternoon Tea’…
In the meantime, stay safe and hopefully see you all very soon.

Website: www.whitelight.ltd.uk
Facebook/Twitter: @WhiteLightLtd

(dated 29 April 2021)

Reinvention.. the Key to Success? It’s Practically Perfect!

Reinvention.. the Key to Success? It’s Practically Perfect!

Paul Johnson interviews Nathan Long (right) and Michael Clay (left)


London-based couple, Nathan Long and Michael Clay, set up Practically Perfect originally as a hobby. Both were working as professionals theatre as lighting technicians; Michael in the West End and Nathan at the NT.

Practically Perfect uses cutting-edge technology to design and produce ‘Practicals’ (props used onstage that possess a practical element; able to move, light up etc.). To date the pair have made everything from toasters that smoke and pop on cue, remote-controlled clocks, light-up edible apples, to lamps & multi-coloured fluorescent lights.

When Covid-19 hit in March, along with many other professionals, Nathan and Michael’s full-time jobs as lighting technicians ground to a halt overnight. “We were both furloughed with a risk of redundancy looming,” says Nathan, before continuing. “Practically Perfect no longer had shows to supply with interesting practicals, so we decided to divert our attention to making things people could enjoy at home, giving people the chance to bring a bit of theatrical magic home rather than having to visit a theatre.

“Michael designed these beautiful light box lamps and we manufacture most of the components ourselves from our little office in our flat using our 3D printer.”

During the autumn Nathan was still furloughed and Michael had, unfortunately, been made redundant and was working for Ocado.

Sardines caught up with the pair before the UK went into its second, and current, lockdown…

Can you elaborate on what you were both doing – career-wise – up until everything changed back in March?
NL: I was working as a Lighting Technician in the Dorfman at the National Theatre. I’ve been working at the NT for the past six years and, before that, I have worked in the West End, on small and medium-sized touring shows and as a technical instructor at a drama college.
As lighting technicians at the National Theatre we do everything from rigging lights to operating the lighting desk, but my main area of interest was working on practical fixtures; designing and making props that have a practical element.
We were just preparing to open a new show and had just completed a dress rehearsal when everything abruptly stopped.
MC: I was working as a Chargehand Electrician at the Gielgud Theatre [West End]. We had prepared and checked everything ready for our evening perform-ance of Upstart Crow but, at 7pm, we all got called to the stage and were told that there would be no performance that evening.
As a chargehand electrician I worked as part of the Electrics department looking after the show electrics and lighting as well as the theatre’s electrics and infrastructure. I had been working at the Gielgud for just under two and a half years. Before that I had worked for various West End shows as well as regional theatres.

Up to that point, how was Practically Perfect positioned within the theatre industry?
BOTH: Practically Perfect was set up as more of a hobby, with both of us in fulltime jobs we used it to research and develop things that interested us.
Theatre always throws up interesting challenges and we thrive on working on interesting solutions to complex problems. We had supplied some innovative products which were used in theatre, art installations and some events. But we mainly used our skills as part of our fulltime jobs.

Was it a difficult decision to “divert our attention to making things people could have at home,” instead of directly supplying the theatre industry?
NL: I don’t think it was a difficult decision; Michael was the brains behind making the move. We are both very proactive people and sitting around not doing very much was starting to get to us. We are used to being busy and having a constant stream of projects on the go. Making the decision to move towards making things people could have at home threw up some interesting challenges such as designing and making our own e-commerce website. As money was tight we decided to do this ourselves from scratch rather then pay someone to do it for us. It gave us something to focus on.
MC: After being furloughed for six months and finding out my employment was coming to an end, I started thinking of new ways we could earn some extra money while I was looking for a new job. We just needed to create something new that people would love to have at home. As most people don’t need a toaster that smokes and pops on cue, we decided light boxes would be the perfect thing allowing us to use our lighting and electronic skills, and 3D design. With the help of our 3D printer we were quickly making some prototypes and creating our final designs. As we design and manufacture everything ourselves its allowed us to create custom products for our new at-home customers.

How is Practically Perfect’s change of direction working out for you both?
NL: It’s been going really well, we had an incredible response. Orders have been steady but not overwhelming which is nice; lots of people are buying our light boxes as gifts. We have tried to make Practically Perfect a lot more visible on social media. As a result we got some unexpected theatre work making some light boxes for The Bridge Theatre. These light boxes had information for audiences to help keep them safe, being a light box meant it could be seen clearly in a darkened auditorium.
MC: We’ve been really surprised by the response to our products. We were expecting to get a few orders from friends and family and that would be it but it’s really taken off, with a lot of our orders coming from people who have seen our products on social media.

Is it your goal to, one day, return to the theatre industry – or is it more a case of ‘watch this space’?
NL: I definitely want to return to theatre. I have been one of the lucky ones and I have kept my job at the NT (for now) so I should be returning to work soon. Making practicals for stage is magical. A well-made practical can help transport an audience into the world your creating for them, whether that’s an ultra realistic living room to a magical world where everything isn’t quite as it seems.
MC: I can’t wait to get back into theatre I love every minute of it. I feel lucky that I was able to discover the industry I wanted to work in at a young age so most of my life has been dedicated to it so not being able to be there does feel a little strange.

In our August issue (online) we interviewed Rhiannon Chesterman who has headlined UK tours as well as played in the West End. However, in March she successfully got a job working the night-shift for a branch of Sainsbury’s. I guess this pandemic doesn’t respect a healthy or even impressive biog?
NL: When the topic of redundancies started to become a reality, it’s a discussion that Michael and I both had… What transferable skills do we actually have. What we do is incredibly unique, there’s not much call for a toaster that pops on cue, or an apple that lights up in people’s everyday lives.
MC: Unfortunately I was made redundant and finding a new job was a bit of a challenge. A degree in theatre lighting design doesn’t help very much when applying for jobs in supermarkets. Despite that, in the start of September I was luckily able to get a new job working for Ocado in the freezer as a personal shopper. I’ve been introduced to so many other people working there who also worked in theatre and had sadly lost their jobs too. It’s been a great help being with people who are going through the same thing.

If you’re intending on supplying both markets, moving forward, is the amateur sector an area you would be interested in expanding into?
BOTH: Absolutely! Practicals can make a difference to every production, and there are many options available. They range from being complicated high-tech devices to a simple piece of LED Tape.

Do either of you have any roots in the amateur sector before you entered the profession?
NL: My passion for theatre started onstage. I performed with our local scouting Gang Show before becoming fascinated with what happens behind the scenes, getting heavily involved with my schools tech team. I still help out with lighting for shows within scouting and friends’ amateur theatre groups annual shows.
MC: I started out designing and operating the lighting for local amateur groups and that was a great experience. This eventually helped me get my first paid job in theatre working as a technician. The theatre supported many local amateur groups and dance schools. There was a lovely sense of community there and they put on lots of great shows that everyone loved.

What should Sardines readers do if they’re interested in Practically Perfect’s full range of products?
NL: You can find us on Instagram and Facebook at: @practicallyperfectlx but the main place to find all our products at our website: www.practicallyperfectlx.co.uk .
We love making unique things and, in theatre, we rarely make the same thing twice so if there is something unique you want, whether it’s a fully-formed idea or just a concept we would love you to get in touch with us, you can do this via the contact form on our website or by emailing: contact@practicallyperfectlx.co.uk
We would love to offer Sardines readers a discount of 5% on any of our standard large light boxes. Just use the voucher code SARDINES5 at the checkout.
MC: We’re also working with Not On The West End (@notonthewestend | www.notonthewestend.co.uk) which is a directory of small businesses set up by people working in theatre like ourselves. They showcase lots of different businesses allowing people to discover new independent businesses and buy products to support someone who usually makes a living from theatre.
Practically Perfect will be featured on 20 January, so check Instagram and Facebook (@notonthewestend).

Nathan finishes by pointing out: “We love making custom designs so we encourage people to get in contact with us with their vision so we can make something truly unique for them. We are always developing new products which we announce on our Instagram and Facebook pages (@practicallyperfectlx).”

Nathan and Michael are offering a 5% discount on all their standard large light boxes when you use the code: SARDINES5 at: www.practicallyperfectlx.co.uk

Scotland Up in the Air (Your News)

Scotland Up in the Air (Your News)

By Paul Johnson

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), one of the busiest and most celebrated performing arts venues in the UK, has purchased a SIXTY82 Model M Tower System as part of its ongoing drive to give students and schools access to state-of-the-art backstage technologies used in major productions worldwide.
Founded in 1847, RCS in Glasgow is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top-performing arts education institutions.. Each year it welcomes students from more than sixty countries to receive the very best education in music, drama, dance, production and film.
A major performance venue with world-class facilities, and an industry-endorsed provider of courses covering backstage equipment training, RCS invests in the very latest technologies to deliver a learning environment geared towards careers in production backstage as well as on the stage.
When RCS received outreach funding from the William Grant Foundation to run performing arts-based schools engagement activities, it decided to invest a tower lift system to showcase RCS’ production programmes in a more varied and interesting way.
Malcolm Stephen, Stage Supervisor and Tutor of Stage Technology at RCS, told Sardines: “Taking the system out to schools allows us to bring theatre technology to students who may otherwise not be aware of the industry, giving them an insight in to the backstage world of the performing arts.
“It also allows us to take shows to a wider range of venues, as well as creating pop-up venues within the RCS. And of course, having the system means that we can train technical students on its installation and use.”
Easy to use and assemble, the SIXTY82 Model M Tower System can be raised and lowered as appropriate, depending on the requirements of the specific performance or event. This provides users with an elegant solution for raising and supporting a temporary or permanent truss lighting rig.
Malcolm added: “We chose SIXTY82 as the tower system is compatible with truss that we already own. In my opinion, it has many benefits over other systems I’ve used, not least of all, how light the bases are. This certainly makes it easier to lift and transport it from site to site.”
RCS’s Model M Tower System was supplied by SIXTY82 distributor, A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd.
Malcolm commented: “I’ve been delighted with all my interactions with AC-ET. Its rigging team stepped in to provide the tower system at the last minute and managed to get the system to us in time for its planned debut at RCS. The team were extremely helpful and professional throughout.”
SIXTY82 is an alliance featuring innovators from three countries with over 100 years of entertainment industry leadership between them. They came together to bring a fresh view into the market, providing innovative, next generation trussing and staging systems.

More information is available at: www.rcs.ac.uk and also by visiting www.ac-et.com

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