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Natal Playhouse fitted with Martin Pro

29 September 2008 14.00 BST

(South Africa) - Two years ago The Natal Playhouse in Durban upgraded its Opera Theatre with more than 64 Martin Professional intelligent lights and a Martin Maxxyzcontrol desk from Martin distributor Electrosonic.

This year the spotlight was turned on the Drama Theatre.

“We had such positive feedback from performers and patrons alike regarding the upgraded lighting in the Opera Theatre that we wanted to get the Drama Theatre up to the same level,” said Dylan Heaton, Lighting Technician for the Playhouse. The Opera Theatre is the largest of the three theatres in the complex, with a seating capacity of 1,224 on three levels including a balcony - the Drama Theatre seats 474.

“The new equipment makes an enormous difference on all levels, not only adding to the quality of the shows, but also saving us significant time and money,” says Dylan. “It used to take us the good part of a day to re-focus the lights for a show, but now it can be done instantly at the push of a button.”

Nominal power consumption
The cost savings in terms of electricity consumption are equally impressive. Dylan comments, “Previously it took a lot of power to light one little area with three color washes i.e. amber, blue and red, and then needing to create pink, for example. With intelligent lights, however, the power supply is constant no matter what you do, which radically reduces electricity usage. With our old kit the needle on the amp meter always hovered around the halfway mark, but with the new kit, it registers way down near the bottom. The consumption is nominal by comparison.”

Head and shoulders above the rest
Having experienced all the benefits of the new equipment in the Opera Theatre, it was only a matter of time before plans were afoot to upgrade the Drama Theatre. Dylan and his colleagues made a point of asking the opinion of touring technicians regarding which equipment they thought stood head and shoulders above the rest in theatre lighting. “They all confirmed our own opinion that Martin Professional intelligent lights are undoubtedly the best.”

Following the obligatory tender process, leading theatre lighting consultant Denis Hutchinson specified the new line up of equipment, and after a bit of negotiation due to the volatile exchange rate, Electrosonic Durban was able to supply the equipment required.

“What is so fantastic about Electrosonic – both the Jo’berg team and the Durban team - is that they know their products and their service is outstanding,” Dylan states. “I can call anyone of them up at any time – or even give them a missed call – and they respond instantly. They’re even prepared to re-work quotes any number of times to get the right stuff at the right price.”

Drama Theatre
In the end, the array of new equipment for the Drama Theatre included more than 50 Martin automated luminaires, comprising 4 MAC 2000 Washes, 28 MAC 700 Profilesand 20 MAC 700 Washes.

Electrosonic Durban also upgraded their existing Maxxyzcontrol desk and supplied the Playhouse with the latest incarnation of the Maxxyz, the half size Maxxyz Compact. This extremely powerful and flexible desk allows for the effortless swapping of shows between the two desks. It offers full Maxxyzfunctionality in a modular, mid-sized design at a very competitive price. Its four modules make for a complete stand-alone, embedded and shielded computer system, offering the ability to control up to 32 DMX Universes.

Final additions to the equipment list were two Jem Glaciator X-Streamlow lying fog machines. The Jem Glaciator X-Streamnot only eliminates the mess of Dry Ice and CO2 (not to mention the cost), it is a simple ‘plug-and-play’ ground fog effect and the most powerful self-contained heavy fogger on the market.

“We can’t wait to have all the lights installed and operating. The data cables are in, the network is in, the control desk is in …. but the theatre is so busy that we’re battling to find an open time slot to install the lights!” exclaimed Dylan.

Totalling up the new equipment in both the Opera Theatre and Drama Theatre, The Natal Playhouse now boasts the largest inventory of moving lights of any theatre in Southern Africa, with a grand total of 116 Martin moving lights, ranging from the MAC 250 Entourright up to the MAC 2000 Performance.





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