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GDS Supplies Two Stage Manager's Consoles for Scottish Arts Centre

The Beacon Arts Centre, opened in January 2013, is one of the finest new arts venues in the UK. It replaces the Greenock Arts Guild Theatre, which served the area well for more than 65 years.

The Beacon is situated at Customhouse Quay in Greenock, overlooking the River Clyde estuary, with stunning views towards the hills of Argyll and Dunbartonshire. There can be few theatres in the country which enjoy such a spectacular location. The infrastructure of the new Centre has been carefully designed to accommodate the widest possible variety of uses, comprising as it does, a 500 seat theatre, a black box studio space, three large rehearsal rooms, as well as a bistro and bar. The main stage itself is one of the largest in Scotland and it is anticipated that The Beacon will become a venue of choice for touring productions of all kinds, as well as providing a first rate facility for local community groups.

In keeping with The Beacon's aspiration to offer the absolute latest in cutting-edge theatre technology, the theatre’s technical team along with Petrus Bertschinger of Theatre Projects Consultants engaged with GDS to  discuss the requirements for the stage manager’s desks, and attendant CueSystem cue lights, to meet the needs of both the studio and main theatre. Given the anticipated wide-ranging nature of productions to be staged, and in some cases broadcast live for television, it was essential that every element of stage management could be controlled in the most effective and flexible way possible. The final specification, supply and installation of the desks was undertaken through Northern Light.

The beauty of the GDS Stage Manager's Console lies in its adaptability and flexibility. Each console can be tailored to meet the specific needs of its operator in a given performance space from a range of available options. In The Beacon Arts Centre, the requirements of the black box studio space naturally differed from those of the much larger theatre, with its afore-mentioned large stage. Consequently, the console for the theatre required more of the available options - for example video screens (not required in the studio), larger intercom capacity and 12 channels of CueSystem Net compared to eight in the studio. Of course in many other respects the two consoles shared the same features that have defined it as a firm favourite of stage managers across the world.

Vastly experienced stage manager Antonia Collins, of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, advised GDS during the development of the console with a view to maintaining the focus on the needs of stage managers. Her down to earth appraisal of the finished product is noteworthy:

"What is key to the GDS Stage Manager's Console is not that it dazzles with a vast array of technology for technology's sake but that it does exactly what a stage manager requires and it does it really well. Of course the technological advances in producing a modern version of something that hadn't been revamped for a long time are wonderful but to the stage manager pushing the buttons, that takes a back seat. It's about the console doing what it's supposed to and that's where its true quality lies - in two words - it works."

In opting to install two GDS Stage Manager's Consoles to meet its distinct requirements, The Beacon Arts Centre was, on reflection, making quite a statement about the regard in which this exemplary piece of equipment is held.

Brian Gavin of the Beacon Arts Centre said: “The Beacon has been in development for over ten years. Prior to construction we had spent over sixty years in our former building, a converted swimming baths. Having waited so long for a purpose built theatre we felt it essential that it should be properly equipped. We had no hesitation in putting the stage manager’s desks high on our shopping list. Working with GDS, Theatre Projects Consultants and Northern Light was a most productive process and ensured that what we got was what we required.”





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