Manchester Marks Somme Centenary With dbn Lighting

Photo: Mark Waugh

Somme 100 Manchester marked the commemoration of 100 years since the start of the Battle of the Somme in July, with dbn Lighting providing lighting, LED screen, rigging equipment and crew.

dbn’s Pete Robinson led their team and worked closely with LD Chris Davey to realise his specification and design for lighting a main orchestra/choir stage plus a smaller dance performance stage that was built just in front.

The concert section of the event included Manchester’s acclaimed Hallé Orchestra playing several well-known pieces of music related to the First World War and a major physical dance piece staged on the forestage. The concert also featured a range of letters, poems and diary entries depicting the lives of those affected by the Somme and soldiers’ songs of the time performed by a national children’s choir.

The main stage – built by Acorn – measured approximately 27 metres wide and 10 metres deep with 10 metres of headroom.

A 16 metre wide by four metre high nine mm LED screen was installed mid-stage in front of the orchestra, rigged on Kinesys motors by dbn, which dropped in and out during the show, showing video content, statistics and other graphics and information.

To facilitate lighting both stages, three trusses were flown in the roof of the main stage, loaded with eight bars of six Source Four PARs on the downstage truss, which were used to cross light the choir.

48 Spectral Zoom LED PARs were utilised for orchestra washes, and 11 Clay Paky A.leda K10’s with B-EYE lenses provided the onstage specials.

Seven Mythos units, on the front truss, were used primarily to back light the dance piece on the forestage, and these were also used to highlight action on the B-Stage, a completely different area near the FOH position, comprising a two-metre square platform that rose on a scissor-lift to place a dancer in the middle of the audience.

Also on the forestage were another 10 bars of six Source Four PARs on truss towers downstage left and right to sweep low-level cross light across the space.

30 SGM P5 LED floods were rigged in the gap between the stages to backlight performers through the rain curtains. On the B-stage were 12 Clay Paky GlowUp battery powered LED uplighters. All these stage lights were controlled with one of dbn’s Jands Vista T2’s programmed and operated by Nick Buckley, and they also supplied two Robert Juliat Victor follow spots.

Towards the end of the event, a five-metre diameter sun made out of molefays was raised 20 metres in the air on a crane, stage right/house left and level with the FOH position. The frame for this construction was built out of a five-metre diameter LiteBeam trussing circle with MiniBeam supports and 72 circuits of Molefays involving a combination of 8, 4 and 2-lite units to create the spherical shape.

“It was a fantastic event in which to be involved from so many perspectives,” commented Robinson. “There was a lot of technical brain-teasing which we like, and the end results looked completely stunning and had a huge emotional impact”.

Project Director Sara Robinson worked with Artistic Director Alan Lane and Designer David Farley on the concept and design of the show with Pete and the dbn crew of eight working on-site directly for Show Producer Sarah Rowland.