For the past fifty years, White Light (WL) has cemented a reputation of supplying the very latest theatre lighting. Whether that’s hiring fixtures to a smash-hit West End show or supplying the equipment for a venue’s brand-new lighting installation, the company’s experience and expertise means it is able to offer a technical solution to a plethora of diverse clients. Recently, the company was approached by BATS (Brantham Amateur Theatrical Society) who wanted to invest in a series of brand-new lighting fixtures; both for their upcoming production of Guys and Dolls as well as all future productions.
The history of BATS dates back to 1972 when a drama subcommittee of the Community Council known as the Brantham Community Council Drama Group staged their first production. Ever since, it has regularly put on shows; all of them taking place at the Brantham Village Community Hall. The first show to be staged this year was the iconic Guys and Dolls, on which John Hoskyns was the Musical Director. He comments: “I have been a member of BATS since 2015. Alongside my role as Musical Director, whenever I’m working on a show, I always find myself becoming involved with the technical elements. Initially, this was just sound (alongside being a local GP, I also used to run a sound hire and sales company!). Over the years, this saw me invest in a much-needed sound system for the venue. Over the past couple of years though, I’ve also realised that the lighting required updating; given that the fixtures were all tungsten and the desk at least twenty years old”.
Following his recent retirement as GP, John then decided to take the step and upgrade the lighting set-up. He comments: “I was fortunate enough to receive quite a good pension pay out, so thought I could spend some of it on updating the lighting. It was around this time we were also about to start rehearsals for Guys and Dolls so it all tied in quite well. The plan was to invest in the equipment, which would sit within the space and be used on any BATS shows; with the first of these being Guys and Dolls”.
Knowing he wanted to make this investment, John started to reach out to various companies and even visited the PLASA Show at Olympia London – which was where he met WL’s Antony Vine. He recalls: “I met Antony, and we got on straight away. We spoke about how I wanted an all-LED setup, largely due to the environmental element, and how this should be a mixture of movers and fixed heads. Similarly, it all needed to be fairly compact because of the venue – given it was first built in 1911 and seats approximately 100 people. I also wanted to try and replicate a more professional setup so that younger people could learn skills that would be transferrable should they want to go on and work in the entertainment industry. Having discussed all of these, and listened to Antony’s advice and the various options that were available to me, I decided to go with WL”.
Antony explains: “I think it’s fair to say that what John wanted was not what you’d expect to traditionally find in a village hall! However, once speaking to him, we quickly understood his ambition; both in terms of what he wanted to bring to the performances and the long-lasting impact he wanted the set-up to have. As such, it was then our role to find a package that fulfilled all of his requirements”.
John eventually invested in 8x Ayrton Diablos, 2x Ayrton Levante, 12x ETC ColourSource Juniors, 8x Strand Acclaims, 12x Chauvet Accents, 2x Chauvet ColorBand Q3BTs, as well as a Chamsys MQ250 desk. For Guys and Dolls specifically, WL also supplied some CITI-Theatrical Nu-neon and controllers which were used to make four neon signs that added to the ‘New York’ aesthetic.
John explains: “The equipment was used on Guys and Dolls for the first time and it was fantastic to have this technology available on a production like that. The show was a great success and, despite the limited time we had for the technical set-up, the heroic efforts of our desk op., Dave Backler, and Power supply guru, Clinton Bratchell, meant that everything was installed in time. I have also invested in Cast WYSIWYG and have modelled the hall in Sketchup, which should prove to be a great time saver. There is so much more that we can do and learn with this equipment that will come overtime and that’s something we’re really excited to discover and capitalise on as we use it to its full potential”.
Antony concludes: “It was an absolute pleasure working with John and being able to help transform the Brantham space. From the initial conversations we had at the PLASA Show to seeing how the space was brought alive with Guys and Dolls, it was great to be part of every step of the journey and help him realise his vision. We look forward to seeing the equipment being used on future shows, along with the impact it has on those wanting to develop their technical knowledge”.