Above: Jared Greenall on the left and Philip French on the right.
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-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, Phil and lighting designer Jared Greenall, chose an all-Robe moving light rig of Pointes and LEDBeam 150s.
Phil 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 … all with great sightlines to the stage.
Full on-site catering is delivered by The Tipsy Pigs from their mobile kitchen setup. Guests order from a selection of delicious options via the Peachy Playhouse website, and have their orders run out directly to their car bays.
And naturally … there are posh toilets, replete with flush systems and plenty of hand sanitiser!
When it came to lighting, the need was to be as flexible as possible. With the light evenings, many performances are in daylight, so lighting had to enhance during these hours and look spectacular as darkness fell.
For the kids events, they also needed to be funky, colourful, and magical in the daytime which is when those events are mostly scheduled.
Phil, his partner in the company Ryan Howard and their team installed one of their 10-metre-wide by 9-metre-deep MILOS stages which has a small cantilever at the front and a
forestage in front of that. A 3.9mm pitch LED screen is rigged just in front of the stage mouth leaving the forestage as the main performance space.
They wanted lights that were small in dimensions, bright in output and versatile in functionality … and both Pointes and LEDBeam 150s ticked all the boxes, with 12 and 18 of each fixture respectively, plus 16 x LEDBeam 100s, all 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 Phil. He is especially impressed with the zoom on the LEDBeam 150s which makes them super-adaptable as a beam and a wash luminaire. He also appreciates the colour mixing and the range of colour temperature whites.
A pair of LEDBeam 150s were used very effectively on the downstage edges to provide crossing front key lighting.
For Jared, 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 Pointes, the fact that they 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.
Another goal for lighting was helping create a party and carnival-like vibe in keeping with the theme of offering more expectations than a ‘typical’ drive in!
The sound system is a d&b line array onstage, and each car bay has its own 100V line speaker … a neat solution that connects via standard 16A Cee-forms cabling for awesome at-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.
Apart from imagining a fantastic event concept with a difference in a picturesque and tranquil setting, it’s energised the services of several local companies including Guilford Fringe, who are hosting one of the comedy nights.
The opening event went brilliantly including being blessed with glorious weather, and Phil reports that they are already getting re-bookings after the first weekend as word is getting out that Peachy Playhouse is the outdoor event-to-be in the Guildford Area!
Photos: Louise Stickland.