Total Production

Robe Reverses Polarity for ‘Return to the Forbidden Planet’ Tour

11 May 2015

Bob Carlton’s high speed, hi-energy intergalactic musical romp - loosely based on Fred M. Wilcox’s classic 1956 sci-fi movie “Forbidden Planet” - with extra hallucinogenic qualities celebrates 25 years of this special UK theatre touring production.

Quicker than Lighting Designer Mark Dymock could say ‘telegenesis’, he specified Robe moving lights to help create the vast array of special ‘X Factor’ moments in the show, with 10 Pointes, 12 LEDWash 600s and 4 LEDBeam 100s featuring on the rig.

Dymock originally lit the show two years ago at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, Essex, and was asked back to keep the action moving on tour, with a chance to upgrade the rig he’d originally used. 

The brief included retaining a classic retro rock ‘n’ roll feel - when the show was first launched it was lit with a selection of theatre lanterns and PARs, which at the time, would have been considered radical. In keeping with the glorious narrative genre of 1950’s fantasy, Dymock was also reticent to make the production too flashy, so as not to distract from the highly stylised story.

The lighting action all takes place within the framework of the spaceship stage set - designed by Rodney Ford - so Mark positioned the Pointes right at the centre of the rig, rigged on the venue house bars and an advanced truss.

“Its flexibility and dynamics are ideal,” commented Dymock, who has been using them consistantly in his work over the past 18 months because they were perfect for replicating the classic ‘ray gun’ style of lighting that characterises sci-fi B movies of the Ed Wood era.

The acting area itself was relatively compact, so he didn’t need a huge quantity of lights and having such a full range of effects with the Pointes - in addition to their sharp beams - gave him plenty of options to light the 27 pop and rock numbers.

With the Pointes on-board, he could give each number its own treatment and still have plenty of special effects in hand for seminal moments like the monster attack and the meteorite storm, etc.

The four little LEDBeams are placed discreetly on top of the set where they act as practicals. “I wanted something small to do the job and upgrade what was there before and they tick all the boxes,” he explained. They’re used for plenty of eye-candy and low backlight looks, with their pokey beams working perfectly through the haze as secondary beams to the Pointes. 

He likes the speed and the sharpness of the LEDBeam 100’s beam, bringing light down onto the lower sections of the set, and they are also excellent for specials during solos and for highlighting the upstage area.

The LEDWash 600s are also positioned on the overhead LX bars and on the advanced truss washing the stage and set. They are a great update to the pars / scrollers on the rep show that Dymock lit and a “Great punchy base-wash source”.

Some of the characters in the cast also have their own colours e.g. Captain Tempest is frequently lit in reds and the mad genius Prospero is often accompanied by purples and greens. Dymock made full use of the LEDWashes being able to go from a generalised colour source to a very specific one that is focussed on particular characters or elements of the action.

The Robe fixtures for this tour are all being supplied by Point Source Productions, a rental company based in Sutton, south London, and were purchased specially for the show. Lighting is being looked after on the road by Gary ‘The Clamp’ Cooper and the company Manager is Mark Shayle.

Talking about the Robe brand generally, Shayle commented, “More companies are investing in Robe so it’s easier to spec it and know you will definitely get the fixtures you want, and they are definitely breaking into the theatre market”.

Just before this show hit the road, Shayle used Pointes and LEDWash 600s on “Walking The Chains” in Bristol, a site-specific production celebrating 150 years of the Clifton Suspension Bridge with lighting supplied by Fineline.


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