Enlightened was delighted to be approached by the Tobacco Factory to help revitalise and expand their theatre space with a complete technical fit-out of an entirely new Studio/Theatre space, as part of their recent, £1.6M redevelopment project.
We have been involved with the Tobacco Factory since our company’s inception in 1999 by providing technical equipment for many of the theatre's productions. We have always been passionate about local arts and so we were delighted when in 2013 we were approached to facilitate their first redevelopment of the Tobacco Factory site and contracted to specify and install the new power and DMX distribution to their Factory theatre space.
The redeveloped Factory theatre’s dynamic seating allows the space to be used in both End, Thrust and In-the-round configurations making it one of the few UK theatres to be able to stage productions in-the-round. The new Factory theatre proved to be a great success with Tobacco Factory productions regularly garnering much deserved, national critical acclaim.
Over the years we have built a strong, positive working relationship with the theatre and are ongoing technical suppliers to the Tobacco Factory including installation, servicing, rental and equipment sales.
The recent Spielman Theatre redevelopment project encompassed far more than the addition of a new studio theatre space but also incorporated a significant renovation and redesign of the upstairs bar area, dressing rooms and connecting routes to create a considerably more unified home for Tobacco Factory Theatres, one that capitalises on the success of the Factory and Brewery theatre redevelopment’s impact on the local community by affording them greater scope for participation and for an expanded theatrical offering.
The new studio theatre is named in grateful recognition of a major donation by Bristol’s Spielman Charitable Trust, a charity that has been instrumental in championing Bristol’s vibrant cultural landscape for over 20 years.
The new Spielman Theatre will sit alongside the unchanged earlier redevelopments of the Factory Theatre and provide contrasting and complementing programmes of work under one roof. The new multi-purpose space unlocks further potential for increased children’s workshops, artist development and community activity. The transformational redevelopment project will allow the Tobacco Factory Theatre to open their doors even wider than ever before. The additional studio theatre will provide even more opportunity for anyone who is curious about theatre to get creatively involved in upcoming productions, through the Tobacco Factory Theatre’s, ‘Get Involved’, ‘Artist Development’ and CYP programmes, allowing them to significantly increase their active support of communities in the South Bristol Area and beyond.
The project demonstrates the continuing success of this brilliant theatre company and their mission to energetically involve the local Bristol community in the theatrical arts.
Following detailed discussion with Matt Graham the Tobacco Factory’s technical manager and close review of theatre consultant Giles Favell’s design specification, we put forward a comprehensive lighting design that covered all aspects of the development’s requirements including, theatrical lighting, rigging, dimming, fixtures and control, utility, house and rehearsal lighting, safety and performance blues, DMX and audio distribution, and control. A complete technical fit out right through to curtain track and show relay.
The new theatre studio space incorporates a new retractable seating rake which can be stowed to utilise the entire space for rehearsal and studio work. It was crucial that any lighting design of the space had to allow for maximum versatility for the new intimate theatre space and one that could be seamlessly used in either theatre or studio configuration.
When it came to specifying fixtures to provide a versatile theatrical lighting rig we were able to enthusiastically recommend to Matt Graham the ETC ColorSource family of fixtures as in our experience it delivers the best performance of any fixture in its price range and indeed outperforms very many of it’s more costly peers. Ten fixtures were placed to provide optimum coverage and control and provided with fresnel adaptors that can be added or removed from the ColorSource Light Engine body as required. The adaptor allows the fixture to be used as either a spot or wash making these brilliant fixtures indispensably flexible.
In addition, we specified six Robe LEDBeam 150 moving light fixtures to add a dynamism to the lighting system. The Robe LEDBeam 150’s ultra smooth zoom function makes these a fantastic counterpart to the ColorSource fixtures adding further to the versatility of the rig moving between, beautiful full RGB washes to crisp piercing beams with effortless control. Their full RGB colour spectrum also reproduces a realistic tungsten warmth perfect for theatre.
Working with GDS we developed a tailored solution for the house and daily use rehearsal lighting that would both complement the new theatrical lighting fixtures and add further to the lightings versatility whilst unifying the overall space. We specified twenty-two GDS ArcSystem Pro Cell 1 fixtures for house and daily rehearsal lighting as its ultra smooth dimming and warm colour temperature means that as well as providing beautiful, even house lighting it further contributes to the spaces creative versatility with fixtures independently DMX controllable via the venue lighting desk. House and theatre lighting were further integrated by installing six GDS Dome dimmable blue LED units as ‘show blues’ and custom Exit signs in the three entrance vestibules with full DMX control allowing the theatre to achieve a perfect performance blackout.
To consolidate and add greater flexibility of communication within what is now a multi-performance space venue, we specified and installed the multi-award-winning Green-GO wireless digital intercom system. The Green-GO system was the perfect fit for the Tobacco Factory project as it packs groundbreaking innovative technology into an affordable and simple interface that will allow theatre technical crew to communicate with each other with unparalleled clarity even when multitasking on entirely separate productions without the need for considerably more expensive, complicated and inherently less reliable options.
The simplicity of the Green-GO system stems from the fact that it is an entirely ethernet based digital intercom system which further allows each individual component to be autonomous of the system making it incredibly stable and reliable. The integration of the Green-GO system is made easier as the VOIP protocol uses very little bandwidth and can be easily integrated into the CAT 5e data distribution we installed throughout the Spielman Auditorium allowing for far greater functionality than standard intercom systems including programme audio, such as show-relay and even text messaging.
To provide the power control backbone to the theatre lighting system we chose the ETC ESR48 Sensor rack installing 24 x ETR15AFR dual 3Kw 30mA Thru Power relay/dimmers. The modular system allows simple future expansion and the ability to configure the rack according to individual fixture requirements which will allow the theatre to easily add to their lighting inventory as and when they desire.
The new installation makes the most of industry-leading LED fixture technology providing, beautiful, even house lighting, creatively flexible and impactful theatrical lighting and fully DMX integrated utility and house lights. This not only provides far greater energy efficiency and a huge cost saving but means the fixtures are considerably more reliable than older traditional theatre fixtures and therefore require less maintenance. The compact multi-use theatre space necessitated the lighting rig position to be directly over the audience making these fixtures the ideal choice for this project due to their cool operating temperature.
“We loved working with the Tobacco Factory Theatre’s team. Transforming the venue into a multi-space venue was a particularly rewarding challenge and it was a privilege to be part of. The project really allows this brilliant theatre company to become even more central to the Bristol cultural community. It unifies their performance spaces together and adds a level of future-proofing so that their space can adapt and grow with them”.
"Having worked with them for many years, Enlightened was our first choice when it came to implementing the technical installation of the Tobacco Factory Theatre’s new Spielman Theatre. We have always found working with Enlightened to be a natural fit, their energy, honesty and enthusiasm making for a comfortable, collaborative relationship.
Nick, Matt James, and Jeremy have always bent over backwards in accommodating our requests, making for a smooth installation process, as they are always diligent in meeting our timelines and making the most of our budgetary requirements while remaining flexible as the project developed.
Their expertise and knowledge were indispensable, each engineer was meticulous during the installation, taking care of the execution because they understood why it needs to be done a particular way to make the technical operation as flexible and versatile as possible for each theatrical production. Thank you Enlightened once again for transforming another venue for our audiences and clients".
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