FocusTrack, the leading lighting documentation software, has been put to use by two high-profile productions of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, both of them starting life in the UK and using FocusTrack to provide a detailed record of the production lighting as they transfer to New York.
The first production, which has already played two hugely successful New York seasons, starred Alan Cumming not just as Macbeth himself, but playing most of the other parts in the show as well. This production, directed by John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, designed by Merle Hensel with lighting by Natasha Chivers, was created by the National Theatre of Scotland at Glasgow's Tramway in mid-2012. There National Theatre of Scotland Lighting Supervisor James Gardner, a long-time user of FocusTrack, used the software to precisely document the show lighting, with a photograph of each light in each of the positions it was used in during the show. This meant that when the show then transferred to New York's Lincoln Centre the following month, Chivers was able to take this information with her and share it with the Lincoln Centre team.
This year, FocusTrack allowed that same information to be shared with yet another team as the production transferred to Broadway's Barrymore Theatre for a sold out run. For that production, Chivers worked with associate lighting designer Dan Walker, programmer Marc Polimeni - both regular users of FocusTrack on other projects - plus production electrician Randall Zaibek and head electrician Chris Moeller.
The result on every occasion was a wildly successful transfer, with Entertainment Weekly hailing the show as "mesmerizing theatre - it hits the damned spot."
The second production was staged this summer as part of this year's Manchester International Festival; starring Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston, the production was co-directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford, designed by Christopher Oram with lighting by Neil Austin. Unsurprisingly, given that he is FocusTrack's creator, the show's programmer Rob Halliday used the software to document the production lighting, achieved almost entirely with moving lights because of the limited rigging positions and power available in the venue, a deconsecrated church in east Manchester. FocusTrack provided the show's crew, led by production electrician Keith Johnson and head electrician Sam Floyd, with a precise record of each focus both in case of the need to swap-out fixtures and, in the case of one light positioned on a cherry picker outside the venue, to allow the picker to be correctly re-positioned prior to the show each evening.
After the show's sold out run ended, it was announced that this Macbeth will also play a New York season, at the Park Avenue Armory next year. FocusTrack will doubtless once again provide both background information about how the rig was used, useful for designing the New York rig, and a precise reference as the lighting is re-created for the New York season.
The two Macbeths join the many other shows around the world already using FocusTrack to document their show lighting - not just moving lights, but also conventional focuses and complete cue information all in one integrated system. Other shows include the new US tour of Evita, Blue Man Group in Las Vegas, the Tony Award-winning Once, the touring production of The Phantom of the Opera, Annie and Motown on Broadway, Les Misérables in London and many more.
Further information about the National Theatre of Scotland can be found at www.nationaltheatrescotland.com.
Further information about the Manchester International Festival can be found at www.mif.co.uk.
Further information about FocusTrack, including a downloadable demo version for Mac or PC and details of the pricing for full, single show and student licenses, can be found at www.FocusTrack.co.uk.
Photo: Alan Cumming as Macbeth for the National Theatre of Scotland. Photographer: Manuel Harlan