Audio specialist tube uk supplied an amazing sound system for “A Blessing”, an engaging and fun public performance produced by outdoor arts experts Walk the Plank as part of Manchester’s Dashehra Diwali Mela 2017 celebrations, staged in and around Albert Square in the City Centre.
This was one element of a dynamic array of classical and contemporary Indian music, dance and arts performances which jointly celebrated the Hindu festivals of Dashehra and Diwali.
One half of Albert Square was commandeered for “A Blessing” which told a story from the Hindu epic Ramayana with strong themes of good over evil and light over darkness.
The story centres around Hindu warrior Goddess Durga who, depicted on a tiger, is created for the purpose of defeating half man, half buffalo demon Mahishasura, and restoring peace and unity to the world.
The show – complete with creative audio, lighting and choreographed pyro - was narrated by Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu.
The story was structured and directed by Walk the Plank’s Nick Clarke with words and scripting by Louise Wallwein, with tube’s Adam Taylor designing the sound.
Positioned on a small stage in Albert square the Mahishasura played by actor Sagar Arya took to the stage in Albert Square as the crowds gathered for the early evening show which followed a lantern parade.
A 10ft high mechanical tiger puppet, complete with spectacular smoke-steaming nostrils, dramatically entered the space, taking up its position, opposite Mahishasura. On arrival Goddess Durga played by Actress Bharti Patel appeared on top of the tiger. A verbal and visual battle back and forth ensued - with the public occupying the space in between becoming fully immersed in the action, enjoying the energy and bouncing their attention between the two protagonists as the piece began to play out.
The most important thing for the sound system was that it needed to be highly directional, so the Actors, exchanges and sound effects came from their respective stages / positions and the crowds could flip their heads and look from one to the other as the tension built.
tube positioned two ground stacks of d&b V-Series PA speakers either side of the Buffalo stage on the Town Hall side of the site, which in addition to amplifying his mic also served as the main show PA for all the crescendos and big moments.
Either side of the Tiger stage was a stack of d&b Y-Series speakers that ensured the Tiger’s microphone and sounds – like roaring – and other content could be amplified and heard.
The mics chosen were Sennheiser 5212s fitted with DPA 4066 capsules, chosen for their good vocal characteristics.
A QLab system was utilised for all the playback audio, sound effects and music tracks plus the narration, running via Dante into a Yamaha QL5 console on which Adam Taylor mixed the show. He was joined by Jamie Taylor-Sharman as systems engineer, who fine-tuned the system to ensure the crisp, crystal clear clarity and delivery essential for the show to work as a theatrical experience.
The biggest challenge for Adam and Jamie was providing even coverage across the space and also keeping the PA footprints small and neat as possible whilst maintaining the different focal points, so the sound came from where each of the actors was performing. This greatly increased the physicality of the show for all experiencing it live.
tube’s familiarity with Albert Square, a public space in which they regularly work for the council and other public events, was another big asset in achieving a powerful, well-balanced sound to reinforce the action … which was enthusiastically received by packed crowds.
Photos by John Redfern