Enlightened was approached to help revitalise Fromes historic Memorial Theatre’s infrastructure by upgrading their existing systems to give the theatre a new lease of life and bring its electrical theatre infrastructure up to date to afford both itself and visiting performance companies greater flexibility over lighting design and performance audio with the installation of new Dimmers and DMX distribution.
The Memorial Theatre is one of Frome’s oldest and is much loved by residents and visitors alike. Commissioned in 1924 as a memorial hall built in lasting memory of the fallen of World War I. The hall had seating added in the 1930s to accommodate new and burgeoning cinema audiences. During the 1980s and 90s, the memorial hall was underused and left to grow increasingly dilapidated by the local authority who’s proposed demolition of the site was met by a groundswell of passionate local support, a group of whom successfully petitioned to save the theatre, with renovation and day to day running being taken over entirely by local volunteers.
The volunteers who run the theatre are tireless in their mission to keep the theatre a central part of their community, scheduling an inspiringly full season of performances that bring a vibrant mix of regional, national and international talent to local audiences.
We were first approached by the theatre in May 2016 to test their theatre electrics and carry out routine maintenance to ensure equipment and infrastructure were in safe working order. During our maintenance work, the technical team at the theatre discussed their wish to replace some of the outdated electrical infrastructures and put all the electrics in a single place, and upgrade it to facilitate a more versatile DMX distribution and to install upgraded lighting dimming that would allow them to more easily accommodate touring companies and musicians.
They had until that point been heavily reliant upon temporary equipment sourced to facilitate a particular shows requirements. Touring shows had invariably required additional dimming and different adaptor connections, patching and cabling configurations that raised the possibility of technical faults due to the increased number of potential points of failure. At times the venue's equipment was not being used by touring companies because the system was unreliable or outdated, The theatre is also now increasingly using LED lights and therefore urgently needs more flexibility to be built into their theatre system.
Access to the theatre’s existing dimmers, power and facility panels was obtained via a ladder backstage to a dated and overcrowded wooden perch that having provided years of service had been much repaired and customised during its long life. It was apparent that adapting the perch safely to accommodate the upgraded equipment and ensuring safe access for decades to come required more than simple removal of the old equipment and repair to the existing structure as its age and condition meant that it’s long-term safety and suitability for purpose could no longer be guaranteed. The Theatre team were keen to replace the entire structure with a safer more easily accessible platform so we specified and installed a custom built steel gantry perch with a matt black finish and safety rails. The new perches cantilevered design maximises the space below whilst providing easily accessible and secure access to the newly installed equipment.
A New 12 way 3 phase MCCB panel was installed to bring together all the different outlets the theatre required. To provide touring companies with simple and convenient access we also installed 125 TP, 63 TP, 32TP and 32SP at stage level along with a number of contactors that allowed the venue to switch the dimmers and touring power without the need to ascend to the perch each time.
To replace the existing dimmers and power distribution we specified 5 ETC ColorSource ThruPower 24 units that afford the memorial theatre more efficient dimming than they had previously while also allowing the venue to effortlessly introduce LED fixtures when required as circuits can be easily allocated as either constant voltage or dimmed effectively future-proofing the Theatre’s technical infrastructure by allowing for more versatile and flexible integration of touring or newly acquired fixtures.
We also upgraded the Theatres DMX distribution, replacing and rerouting existing cables. Distribution layout was streamlined into clean discreet runs terminating in near at hand, stage level distribution panels, providing clean convenient DMX access to both in-house and touring companies alike.
It was a pleasure to work in such a lovely old theatre and to give it a new lease of life, through transforming its technical infrastructure that will allow the venue to reach its full potential well into the future. The technical renovation has already seen touring shows bringing far less equipment into the Theater as they can now patch straight into the venues dimmers and distribution with minimum effort. Fit up times have been significantly reduced as has the Theatres equipment hire costs.
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