dbn Lighting from Manchester collaborated in another exciting, innovative and off-the-wall production with producers Walk The Plank to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the landmark Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, Wales. dbn’s Stephen Page was asked to design lighting for the spectacle, staged outside along the main concourse approach to the Centre.
Staged on Saturday September 12, the show, “Ar Waith Ar Daith” was a year in the planning and making and with over 600 participants, the largest outdoor theatre production in Wales to date. The show attracted crowds exceeding 12,000 who were enrapt as the age old tale of Welsh history, myth, allegory and magic unfolded via a series of promenade choreography, large format projections onto the side of the building, gravity-defying aerial stunts, lantern processions, choral singing, dance numbers and a truly exhilarating pyrotechnic finale.
The show was directed by Walk The Plank’s Liz Pugh, with fellow co-founder John Wasell as creative producer. The work featured a specially-composed soundtrack by BAFTA award winner composer John Rea.
“It was a fantastic project in which to be involved, energising all the ingenuity of the Walk The Plank team, and requiring a truly lateral approach to lighting. I enjoyed the many challenges and being part of another great creative team delivering a show that was shared and appreciated by so many people,” stated Stephen.
Ar Waith Ar Daith was designed to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Wales and in doing so placed the Wales Millennium Centre as a focal point for a broad spectrum of creative inspiration. The 200 metre performance space stretched from the Millennium Centre right down to the waterfront in Cardiff Bay and features a series of large concrete pillars - which could not be touched - and also included the Welsh National Assembly and the Pierhead buildings at the further end of the site.
Eleven custom combined lighting / sound towers were built and distributed around the site rigged with assorted fixtures, supported by a massive quantity of lights spread out along the floor.
A row of SGM P5 LED floods – one of Stephen’s favourite fixtures for this type of outdoor application - were used as ‘foot lights’ running the length of the site.
The towers were loaded with a selection of fixtures including 21 x Clay Paky Mythos, 16 x Sharpy Washes, 16 x Alpha Beam 700s and 12 x Sharpies, more P5s and Studio Due City Colors – dbn has just invested in the latest 2.5K RGBW versions of these … which really rock! There were also four Alpha Beam 300s on each of the towers and around 40 x PAR cans distributed between them.
Eight of the original version City Colors were positioned on the floor adjacent to the Millennium Centre building and used to back light the performance space.
The conundrums of lighting the show – even for someone as experienced as Stephen with weaving luminescent enchantment into epic outdoor events – were many!
The columns positioned all the way down the performance space restricted the placement and focusing of equipment which had to be factored in at every juncture. As there were so many community members in the cast, the first absolutely full run through with everyone involved … was the show itself!
The main protagonist travelled up and down the full length and width of the site in a motorised scenic tree.
Ar Waith Ar Daith was also broadcast live on S4C just to ramp up the pressure that bit more for everyone on the technical and creative production teams!
From a lighting perspective, having to light for television as well as the live audience required special attention to detail. A lot of the more subtle ‘live’ techniques had to be adapted to also work on TV, whist not losing any of their dramatic resonance … and as always Stephen and the dbn team rose to the occasion, producing some beautiful, vivid and theatrical results with resourceful lighting.
Working alongside Stephen from dbn were Nick Buckley who co-ordinated a lot of the prep work on site and operated lights for the show, plus Moss Everhard and Pete Isherwood. They were very ably assisted by Becky Heslop and Josh Kroon, students from the Royal Welsh College of Speech & Drama.
The dbn get-in commenced on the Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s show, described by Ken Skates, the Welsh Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport & Tourism as, “the best show I have ever seen outdoors in Wales.”*