For many show designers, it can be frustrating to see countless audience members gazing at I-Mag screens for prolonged spells, rather than concentrate on what really matters: the stage action.
In conjuring her set design magic for Beyoncé’s eagerly anticipated Formation world tour, however, Es Devlin has ensured that all eyes remain on the star’s performance by creating an enormous, rotating video screen box – widely referred to as the ‘Monolith’ – that relies heavily on customised equipment and R&D know-how from Stageco’s international offices.
From the moment the audience enters the stadium, well before showtime, it is aware of the central, dominating Monolith. Measuring 22 metres high by 16 metres wide by nine metres deep, the crucial elements at its core have been custom-manufactured and supplied by Stageco in partnership with Belgian motion control systems provider WIcreations. The Monolith is embedded in a 62 metres wide by 35 metres deep stage.
On the in-progress North American leg, Beyoncé remains a Stageco US account, while the company’s Belgian HQ has been heavily involved in the technical design, working with production managers Chris Vaughan, Jake Berry and Malcolm Weldon, and Devlin’s technical design partner Malcolm Birkett.
Stageco’s Belgian design team – Dirk De Decker, Tom Frederickx and Wouter Declercq (engineering) with Wim Dewolf and Gert Hulsmans (drawings) –conceived the idea of a gigantic, revolving video structure. They partnered with the Colorado Springs-based US team who collaborated on the staging and field structure elements, whilst managing the overall logistics of the North American leg. Mark Van Gorp led a special tour start-up team that was dedicated to the initial building work.
Dirk De Decker, Stageco’s International Projects Director, and Mary Lou Figley, Vice-President of Stageco US, began working together on the project at the end of December 2015, leading to the eventual first build of the structure from 1st April at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, where production rehearsals, programming and adjustments to the stage also took place before moving to Marlins Park in Miami where the tour kicked off on 27 April.
Four steel systems leapfrog each other on the road, with each requiring 23 trucks and a dedicated team combining Belgian, American and German crew, led by Jim Ramacus, David ‘Cinch’ Lanosga, Frank Boehme and Antonio Duarte Da Cruz. Meanwhile, three two-man teams travel with the Monolith structure between the four systems. The systems provided by Stageco also include sliding grids on top of the video box and a circular track on which the structure travels 360° in around four minutes.
“At 22 metres high, this incredible video box is similar in size to a small apartment building but it also needs to completely revolve and within it, the video screen has to split into two halves at certain moments during the show, leaving a gap of around seven metres. It has been a fascinating process and another technical challenge we have been proud to be a part of,” said De Decker.
Throughout the tour, Stageco is also supplying towers for the main and side PA hangs, the rear lighting, spot and delay towers, and the front of house risers. The European section of Beyoncé’s Formation world tour begins at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on 28 June.