A Successful Balancing Act


Thank you for the article by Rusty Strauss in April LD (page 54). Having subscribed to the magazine since 1980, I've found a lack of stories about small rigs, design anywhere other than New York and Los Angeles (yes, I realize that's where the bulk occurs), and shows with really small budgets, so I really enjoyed reading about somebody who is doing a great job with very little equipment. Sure, it's fun to see how many automated lights and multiple interconnected control consoles with wireless DMX were used on a show, but I think a majority of lighting design probably falls in the under $5,000 category.

How about some more of the type of Rusty's article? What about articles on university design? Tiny theatre? Party support (over 100 fixtures doesn't count)? Great shows with less than 50, 40, 30 lights. How about a “load-in/show from hell” featurette? I think there would be a lot of interest in the lighting community.
David Adcock
DCA Productions
Arlington, VA

Editor Robert Cashill responds: Rusty sent in other responses to his well-received piece from the road (the troupe, by the way, was a critical and commercial hit in its New York engagement). Wrote LD Tom Kenny, “I'm fortunate enough to be the lighting designer for the Who, David Bowie, VH-1, Page and Plant, and I lit Eric Clapton for eight years, so you can imagine the budgets I have had to play with. The idea of ‘less is more’ has always been my motto, as I come from Dublin, and it still is. As I gained experience I found that you don't need all that crap up in the air, just a very positive attitude in every circumstance.”

Curtis Templeton, production director for the Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, wrote, “I have subscribed to LD for over three years now, and quite frankly, your article on The Peking Acrobats tour was about the best I have read. Little did you know that your article has probably spoken to a majority of the frustrated church LDs across the country. I started our lighting team at our old facility with 14 PARs and eight ellipsoidals in a converted gym. It's amazing how creative you can get with that amount of fixtures over a couple of years! Anyway, you speak the truth in your article and your ingenuity is quite impressive. We moved into our new 3,000-seat theatre about a year ago and, like you talked about, hired a guy with a great heart and attitude, and a little know-how in lighting. Since then we have sent him to LDI and the Broadway Lighting Master Classes, and he's headed to High End Systems school this year. Our new facility came with quite a few new toys — an ETC Expression 3, an Avolites Pearl 2000, 24 intelligent fixtures, over 300 conventionals, and a huge learning curve! But he has adjusted well and continues to grow in creativity and design. I have given him this article to read and hopefully it will inspire him more.”

To all, I say, thanks for your enthusiastic responses. We're delighted to run articles of the caliber Rusty submitted — when we receive them. But shows and events in the under $5,000 range, across the country and around the world, tend not to be on our radar screen unless someone calls our attention to them. We're always interested in hearing from the university community in particular, and would be happy to consider articles similar to Rusty's for our magazine and website, with first-person editorial, photos, and light plots where appropriate (being a lighting magazine, it's difficult for us to run stories if good-quality photos and documentation aren't available to us, and we don't have a staff photographer to send to events).

“Show from hell” stories are a kick, too, but, diplomacy being what it is, are often hard to get for publication; we've had one or two wither on the vine when the designer decided on discretion at the 11th hour. Volunteers…?

On other matters: Stephen Pollard wrote to praise Sharon Stancavage for her April piece “Cité Nights” (page 17). “Thanks for your attention to detail,” he writes. “All other articles I've come across just copy the press release word for word.” We at LD pride ourselves on weeding the fluff from the PR we receive and getting to the heart of the matter, which our readership demands. Other editors should, too, but that's their business.

We also correct our mistakes, another rarity in this field. Regarding the April Light Side (“Electoral collage,” page 96), an otherwise satisfied Ajay Patil points out that “CEI [received] an assist from both Bandit Lites and LD Systems. I do not want to undermine or belittle the contributions from them, but the fact of the matter is that there were nine balls and CEI was the primary lighting and audio provider.” Our story gave a misleading impression. Similarly, the ServoSpot 250, from Techni-Lux, was misidentified in April Product News (page 86). The offending writer has subjected himself to a lacerating self-criticism, offers apologies…and plans to stick to editing the superlative contributions of others.