Peachy Playhouse, a new socially distanced entertainment concept developed to deliver safe live performances – comedy, music and children’s shows – during the COVID-19 pandemic, closed its summer season at Loseley Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK on a high note with Robe moving lights at the front and centre of the production rig.
Organised by Philip French of Peachy Productions, the team supplied 95% of the technical production infrastructure during a six-week period including: staging, lighting, video, and audio. The Playhouse show schedule ran for two consecutive two-week sessions, with a fortnight break in-between, working in tandem with locally based partners, which provided catering, generators, marquees, and toilets infrastructure.
Among the Robe moving lights on the rig were eight Pointes and 12 LEDBeam 150s prominent on the rig, pulled from Peachy Productions’ stock. When the company initially started and was investing in equipment, explained French, they chose a few key brands in all departments, and for moving lights, that was Robe. “They are robust – definitely an asset in the English summer known for its erratic weather – great value for money, they have a good colour mix and the physical movement is very smooth,” he stated. “They also provide a lot of power and punch for the size.”
As a flexible space for both cinema and live entertainment, the fixtures had to be dynamic and impactful. French dubbed Robe LEDBeam 150s as the “perfect” asset, with the zoom and focus which makes them a “flexible light.”
The same attributes – power and small size – of the Rove Pointes assisted in throwing the energy coming off the stage right into the audience standing by their cars in the picket-fenced bays, for connection between performers and audience.
Robe Pointes rigged overhead and upstage sides as well as Robe LEDBeam 150s on the front bars – above the cantilever of the stage and on the deck in the downstage corners – provided low-level cross lighting. Lighting Designer, Jared Greenall was afforded plenty of opportunities to get creative with lighting the performing artists.
For a multi-purpose scenario like this – from a single stand-up comedian on stage to covering the animated 10-piece line-up of the Ambassadors band, who played four times over the period, according to French, “Robe fixtures were an ideal choice,” he said. “They were also good for creating a general ambience for movie nights.”
The event afforded French a chance to bring back some of Peachy’s full-time staff from furlough and to employ some of their regular freelancers. “There is an energy and an engagement between performers and guests in live entertainment that – for all the great streaming events happening – you simply can get from being behind a computer screen,” French explained.
There was also a steep learning curve and numerous challenges involved in running the first season of Peachy Playhouse. Dealing with COVID-19 health and safety rules and regulations topped the list, with bringing people to the space, a close second.
“Having been in lockdown for some months we discovered that people were not putting as much emphasis on names on the bill, but more on the ‘overall experience’, which we set out to make as fun as possible and deliver it safely and enjoyably for all,” he stated. “Witnessing everyone’s smiles and hearing their laughter has made all the risk, hard work and sleepless nights completely worthwhile – there have been so many magic moments!”