The lighting industry held its quadrennial gathering in Florence, Italy, as Showlight 2017 took place on May 20-23. What could be better than a glorious weekend in the Tuscan capital of Firenze? Good food, good wines for those who imbibe, beautiful weather, and incredible art set the stage for Showlight 2017, organized in the UK, and which attracted over 300 delegates, primarily from the UK as it happens. The majority of the papers were presented in English, with a few exceptions in Italian with translation.
Showlight 2017 began with a cocktail reception at the Albani Hotel on Saturday evening, May 20, providing a chance for friends—old and new—to gather before going off to casual dinners around town. The conference itself kicked off on Sunday morning, with three days of sessions—mostly 20 minute solo presentations on lighting in blocks of three—until the end of the day on Tuesday, punctuated with tours around Florence on Monday afternoon. Exhibitors had table-tops with a range of companies. Many had their UK or European reps, while others had owners in attendance, such as Gary Fails from City Theatrical, Josef Valchar from Robe, and Martin Michaud from MDG.
From lighting puppets in a small theatre to designing Shakespearean plays by candlelight, almost every aspect of lighting was covered. In fact, the puppet LD David Duffy wowed the crowd with his session, Playing With The Edge of the Light: Bringing Puppetry to Life at Little Angel Theatre, showing puppets in a whole new light (pun intended). Amy Mae Smith took us into a small pie shop for a site-specific production of Sweeney Todd, where the audience was virtually part of the action, while at the other end of the spectrum, Durham Marenghi talked about the Greatest Busk On Earth, recalling his experience of lighting the closing Olympic Ceremonies in Rio with zero rehearsal time.
To mention just a few of the other sessions, Mikki Kuttu shared his incredible staging and lighting designs for Swan Lake at the Royal Danish Ballet; Rob Halliday decoded his lighting for the technically challenging production, Tree Of Codes; and Jeff Ravitz gave a boss talk about lighting Bruce Springsteen. On the live-to-broadcast network, Al Gurdon took us behind the scenes to the set of Grease Live!
Special thanks go to Claypaky as the major sponsor of Showlight 2017 and the fantastic dinner for 350 people in a large greenhouse at Il Giardino Torrigiani, the largest private garden in Europe. Opera singers from the Sienna Choir performed in the garden before dinner, leading the guests to the greenhouse, where they also provided after-dinner arias. Pio Nahum of Claypaky was the ultimate host for an incredible evening.
MA Lighting brought part of their collection of Neal Preston photos, which were on display on the second floor of the conference center along with Claypaky’s exhibit space. And I would like to personally thank Ben Saltzman and A.C.T Lighting for their invitation to Showlight 2017.
Everyone is anxiously awaiting to hear where Showlight 2021 will be held!