For the first time ever in the UK, George Orwell’s all-time classic 1984 was read in its entirety at Senate House, University of London. Produced by Libby Brodie Productions in association with The Orwell Foundation, the book was read live by over 50 leading cultural figures in an epic 12-hour read-through. Having worked on numerous bespoke performances, WL was called upon to provide the lighting, sound and video equipment.
1984 Live took place on Tuesday 6th June and was part of the UCL Festival of Culture 2017. The reading was streamed live to libraries across the country, as well as onlin The reading was directed by Hannah Price with a lighting design by Robbie Butler.
Butler commented: “This was a really unique project for a whole range of reasons.One of these included the pre-production period. Due to the length of the reading, this was something we simply could not rehearse from start to finish. As a result, this meant that the first time we would see the show would be on the day itself. Therefore meticulous planning was absolutely key.”
As part of his preparations, Butler visited the space several times. “The reading took place at Senate House as this was Orwell’s inspiration behind the Ministry of Truth which features in the novel. That said, the space itself is not traditionally a performance venue. The room is very art-deco and features lots of marble. Therefore, while it might be lovely to look at, it’s not very practical Similarly, there is a very limited power supply in the room which meant I had to cater my rig accordingly.” he said.
Butler drew on a range of WL’s equipment, including Martin Aura XB, CORE Colour Point IP65 Battery Uplighter, ETC Source 4 Series 2 Lustr+ LED Profiles and Philips SL PAR150 Zoom RGBW Washes. “I wanted to draw on as much LED as possible due to the limited power within the space. In terms of my artistic vision, I’d worked closely with Hannah who told me how she envisaged the reading going.”
Alongside the lighting equipment, WL supplied the audio support which included EM Acoustics EMS 61 Loudspeakers and DPA dfine Double Ear Omni Headsets. Butler was also the Video Designer and drew on WL’s fleet of Christie projectors for the video content that was used throughout.
With the Senate House being in constant use, this meant that Butler and his team had a limited setup time. He commented: “The get in actually started at 5pm the night before and we worked all the way through until 1am the next morning for everything to be in place and ready for the morning. As this was the first time we had used any technical equipment within the space, we needed to ensure it was working perfectly”.
Speakers on the event included Richard Blair – George Orwell’s adopted son – Billy Bragg, Ken Loach, Mark Ravenhill and Bonnie Greer. 1984 Live was a huge success and the entire reading is now available to watch on the Orwell Foundation website.