Like many individuals passionate about the live events and performance industry, Philip French of Aldershot, UK-based rental and technical production company Peachy Productions was badly missing shows, gigs, and the camaraderie of delivering live events.
He decided to proactively do something about it, and with the support of the Surrey Event Professionals headed by Hannah Sheppard – which includes some of Surrey’s finest live event experts – the Peachy Playhouse was born.
It offers two weeks of dynamic, socially distanced, drive-in, COVID-19 compliant live entertainment, encompassing comedy, music, film and children’s shows designed to appeal to all sectors of the community, staged in the beautiful green environs and crisp fresh air of Loseley Park near Guildford, Surrey.
Providing the full technical production – staging, lighting, sound, and video – plus crew, French and Lighting Designer, Jared Greenall, chose an all-Robe moving light rig of Robe Pointes and LEDBeam 150s.
French wanted Peachy Playhouse to be “a proper theatre space” and to raise the bar in terms of production values, overall quality, and the whole audience drive-in experience. He also had to think out-of-the-box with the current situation, which suited him perfectly.
“I’m not very good at sitting around and waiting for things to happen,” he explained, preferring to be at the sharp end of the action. “I thought that with so few events on offer over the summer and people clearly missing live entertainment badly, the time was right to be imaginative and create our own.”
With a capacity for 50 cars, each vehicle is allotted its own bay with its own park bench seat and enough room for visitors to also set up their own tables or picnics as they wish. Full on-site catering os delivered by The Tipsy Pigs mobile kitchen setup. Guests can order via the Peachy Playhouse website and run out directly to their car bays. Complete with toilets, replete with flush systems and plenty of hand sanitiser.
French, Ryan Howard and the team installed a 10m wide by 9m deep MILOS stage. A 3.9mm pitch LED screen is rigged just in front of the stage mouth, leaving the forestage as the main performance space. A total of 12 Robe Pointes and 18 LEDBeam 150s were rigged in the roof and on the stage deck.
Peachy Productions has committed to having an all-Robe moving light stock in recent years, but other lights on the rig included LED battens and active Sunstrips, together with the movers, all controlled from an Avolites Titan Touch console.
“We love the Pointes and the LEDBeam 150s,” commented French, pointing out the zoom on the LEDBeam 150s as well as the colour mixing and his preferred conventions of the fixture. In addition, a pair of LEDBeam 150s were used on the downstage edges to provide crossing front key lighting.
For Greenall, who works full time for Peachy as an LD as well as a Technical Project Manager, it’s the “power, intensity and real multipurpose functionality” of the Robe Pointes that were key, along with the fact that the fixture can produce effects “even” in the sunlight and that it’s possible to do so much with them that makes them ideal tools for an event like this with a wide range of performance genres.
The sound system boasted a d&b line array onstage, and each car bay has its own 100V line speaker – a near solution that connects via standard 16A Cee-forms cabling for in-car audio.
The backstage areas include a green room marquee from Inside Outside Marquees for the talent and a covered technical area with everything – including the kitchen – running on a synched set of 100 KVA generators from Flying Hire.
Between the original planning and the realisation of the event, the government guidelines on social distancing also changed so groups of up to 30 people can congregate in one place, so the space and its layout enables Playhouse guests to mingle more widely if two or three cars worth of friends rock up.