The Caravan Stage Company’s theater ship Amara Zee is finishing the two-month run of “Nomadic Tempest” in British Columbia, Canada where MA Lighting’s dot2 core is providing lighting control for the complex shipboard production. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor of MA Lighting products in North America.
The 30-meter long Amara Zee is the Caravan’s version of a Thames River sailing barge. It stages shows across the deck, masts and rigging of the vessel and on the surrounding water and land. Audiences watch performances from the shore, dock or riverbank. The boat contains complete lighting and sound systems, hydraulics, generators and both sail and diesel power. The theater ship can bring its productions to international ports of call; it also has a permanent berth in Vancouver’s city center.
“We stage one massive show a year: It’s extreme theater with multimedia content,” says Director Paul Kirby. “Productions feature lots of moving lights, LED and incandescent lights and lots of video – in our current production there’s not a moment without video projection.” The cast typically includes actors, dancers, musicians, aerialists and more. “Our Vancouver shows sold out in two days,” Kirby reports.
This year’s production, “Nomadic Tempest,” is an epic tale of four monarch butterflies, from different corners of the world, displaced by climate change and searching for a new home. Five languages are spoken in the show: English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and indigenous Salish.
Caravan’s dot2 core was acquired when the previous lighting board became “totally overloaded and couldn’t handle our productions,” says Kirby. Part of MA Lighting’s range of compact dot2 consoles, the dot2 core is designed for small- to medium-sized productions. Durable and lightweight, it offers intuitive operation and the flexibility required for almost any kind of show.
“We thought the dot2 would be the best choice for us,” says Kirby. “We got in touch with A.C.T Lighting Canada, which kindly became a featured sponsor of Caravan.”
Kirby remembers that, “With our old board, we crossed our fingers hoping the movers would come up. But the moment we started rehearsals with dot2 things changed. It’s like driving a 2018 Rolls Royce compared to a 1950 Morris Minor – what a smooth ride!”
Lighting Operator Oona Kilcommons quickly picked up the operation of the board working with Programmer and Lighting Designer Michael Franzmann. “It has been a breeze to learn,” she says. “The board is intelligent and accessible, and it is able to handle and organize a heavy amount of information in a way that doesn't overwhelm the user. The touchscreens are an absolute dream – even without an additional monitor, I am able to track cues, live-adjust fixtures, call up groups and jump to presets without more fuss than a poke or two.”
Kilcommons calls dot2’s visual map, where she can place fixtures in their relative positions in order to select them, her “favorite part of the system. Often I have found myself frustrated with having to translate my visual or physical understanding of my rig into numbers. Of course, that's the usual translation, but it's a joy to get to kind of bypass that step and really apply my creativity to an efficient tool that is built to be as intuitive as me.”
She notes that, “Because Nomadic Tempest needs to be adaptable to new sites and changing time restraints, many small programming changes – even some live alterations – become necessary. This can make tracking details difficult because of the number and frequency of changes. The dot2 has a detailed feed of the programming history accessible at any time, as well as visually clear representations of DMX output that make honing in on changes relatively painless.
“Because some of the cues have to be flexible in their timing, and may change night to night – for example, we have a performer moving around the audience – having a variety of executors is quite valuable,” she adds. “I have the ability to shift out from cue scenes into positions I've stored for those just-in-case moments when our actor isn't where she was last night. As well, I have the ability to gracefully slow or speed up the timing and transition of cues if need be – even reversing the cues can occur with some grace. That in and of itself is a blessing! Especially for an operator learning a different board for the first time.”
Kirby hails dot2’s ruggedness and reliability. “The system is not only a thoroughbred but a Clydesdale,” he says. “After opening ‘Nomadic Tempest’ we added features to the show, including some quite interesting black light effects. And dot2 just adapted to them beautifully. Our shows are already extremely complex, but we know that if we add even more in the future dot2 can handle it.”
About A.C.T Lighting
A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients.
For more information, visit www.actlighting.com .