White Light on The Deck at the National Theatre

The National Theatre is one of the world’s most iconic theatres, with its various stages having hosted some of the biggest names in theatrical history. Alongside its numerous productions, the venue is also frequently used as an events space; due to both its fantastic location and unique spaces. One of these is the recently re-opened rooftop venue The Deck. The space offers uninterrupted panoramic views across the Thames, providing a stunning backdrop for any occasion. With a reputation for supplying the technical solutions in event spaces across the UK, White Light was called upon to provide the lighting equipment for The Deck.

Prior to The Deck being opened, the National Theatre had a temporary events space venue that was initially planned to only be open for five years. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the space, the National Theatre decided to make it a permanent fixture and appointed Lighting Resources Manager Paul Hornsby to oversee the lighting specifications. Speaking about the lighting requirements for the space, Paul comments: “My role was to specify all of the lighting infrastructure and equipment in order to meet the requirements of the range of the events that take place in The Deck; whether it’s a conference, a sit down dinner or a wedding disco”. To achieve this, Paul worked closely with his Lighting Resources Team and Lighting Control Team, led by Dan Murfin.

Together they looked at a range of the latest lighting and control equipment currently available on the market and, reflecting the existing control systems that are already in place at the National Theatre, decided to keep with the ETC Paradigm controlling the whole system. Paul explains: “This system triggers 8 universes of ETC Mosaic of which there are various day, night and disco lighting timeline states already pre-programmed for use. That said, in regards to choosing the actual lighting fixtures for The Deck, this was a process of visiting a number of trade shows to find equipment that was compact, yet bright and quiet which would fulfil our needs in The Deck. Everything needed to be as multi functioning as possible with the ability to change colour quickly at the touch of a button in order to satisfy client needs in The Deck”.

Once they had a list of equipment, the team came down to WL’s state-of-the-art Studio15 where the WL team had created a truss rigged at the same height of The Deck which allowed them to evaluate what worked best on its own and together with other fixtures. Paul explains: “After the demonstration, we decided on a mixture of Martin MAC Aura XBs, Clay Paky Axcor Spot 300s, Ayrton MAGICDOT-SXs and Ayrton COSMOPIX-Rs. These all serve different purposes from colour washes to podium lighting and table highlights, depending on the event configuration. The main houselight fixture of the space is the Chroma Q Inspire which provides an even wash over the whole space from warm to cold whites, pastel shades and saturated colours. On the exterior of the building, we opted for the new Martin Quad Graze fitting to highlight the glass sides of the building in a stunning array of colour”.

The technology supplied by WL will be used to elevate the existing space as well as have the ability to quickly change the look of The Deck with light levels and colour to suit any client’s needs. The high-tech system is controlled via a Paradigm touchscreen which is operated by the Hospitality and Events Team, allowing them to trigger pre-programmed states or take control of any fixture and change the live colour to suit the event.

The Deck has now officially re-opened and has already facilitated a range of events. Paul concludes: “Ensuring the space was equipped with the correct lighting equipment was very much a collaborative affair; with myself, Dan, Huw, Clara, Chris from the NT along with Tom McGuire from ETC. We were also very grateful to WL, in particular Jonathan Haynes and Ally DeCourcy, for their support and guidance throughout”.

Photos courtesy of James Bellorini.

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