Low Energy Lighting

Arcola Theatre launches hydrogen fuel cell powered lighting at Latitude Festival

THEATRE ARENA

Building on its success of the past 2 years, Arcola Theatre are once again providing low energy lighting and fuel cell power to the theatre stage; and this year we are providing sound as well.

In 2008 when the theatre tent was much smaller, we powered the whole lighting rig with a 5kW fuel cell, using low energy lighting fixtures including LED and low power tungsten lamps. In 2009 the tent grew to its present size, but, with a smaller stage and audience on fewer sides, we were just about able to power the rig on 5kW, with a little extra generator power for particularly bright scenes.

This year, with large stage, audiences on all sides and greatly increased technical expectations, lighting demands are significantly higher than in previous years. Luckily, great improvements in LED technology in the past 12 months mean that they can still play a role. We have thus switched our approach – instead of doing the best we can with 5kW, we are experimenting with the latest LED fixtures. With greatly improved light output and colour rendering there are LED fixtures emerging which can replace tungsten lamps even in mid-scale theatres. This lighting rig gives designers an opportunity to trial these technologies.

Theatre Stage

There has been much less popular attention given to low energy approaches to sound and thus we were keen this year to see what is possible. To ensure that there was no compromise in quality, we have enlisted the support of Steve Mayo, head of sound at the Barbican and a new industry partner Dobson Sound.

In these first trials our focus is on cutting energy consumption by two means – first by getting the right amount of sound in the right place, hence the skilled system designer, and second by improving system efficiency by using amplifiers employing pulse-width-modulation (D class) which use nearly 50% less power than a comparable solid state amplifier. We hope it goes well…

AROUND THE LATITUDE SITE

This year Arcola Theatre has launched a new strand of work developing low energy technologies for the live arts industry. Thus we have installed 7 of our new HyLight150 fuel cell powered lighting systems across the Latitude Festival site; providing lighting for everything from marquees, to forest performances to production areas, as well as powering laptops, phone chargers and ticket machines.

HyLight 150

HyLight is the first fuel cell product to be developed specifically for the events industry and offers the high reliability demanded through an onboard ‘brain’ which monitors performance and seamlessly switches to battery back-up in
case of fault or user error.

Running on hydrogen, with a run time of over 50 hours between refills, the system produces zero emissions and is almost silent. Carbon emission reductions of up to 60% are likely in performance settings through use of the latest LED lighting. The system is also perfect for safety and security lighting where emission reductions of up to 90% are possible by displacing the ubiquitous 500W garage floodlight with 15W LED alternatives.

Arcola developed HyLight with a consortium including regular partners – hydrogen gas producer BOC and leading events industry supplier White Light who also support our work with the Theatre Arena. A new partner is Horizon Fuel Cell, manufacturer of the fuel cell at the heart of HyLight. A family of larger HyLight products is now planned, built around Horizon’s extensive range of low cost, light weight fuel cell systems.

MORE INFO

Press Release – Fuel Cells Across Latitude Festival

Latitude Photo Gallery

Latitude Leaflet

Hylight @ Arcola Energy Store

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Arcola’s Top Ten Tips to produce a Sustainable Theatre Production

The Mayor’s Green Theatre Plan outlines how London theatres can and should reduce their CO2 emissions by 60% by 2025.

Arcola Theatre work with production companies to help them reduce their environmental impact without compromising artistic vision and here are our Top Ten Tips to producing a low impact theatre production.

There are three main areas where you can reduce your production’s environmental footprint: physical production, company activity and audience behaviour.

Physical

1. Re-use – decisions you make at the start of production will have a big impact on waste at the end. Can the materials be re-used, or at least recycled? – Careful handling and fitting of the set contributes its ease of re-use.www.scenerysalvage.com will collect your set & they also sell salvaged items – worth a look if you need cheap doors, furniture, casters, electrical equipment etc. Aim to avoid landfill as nothing is ever really ‘thrown away’.

2. Purchasing – key are timber and paint (see below) but the Mayors Green Procurement Code has useful resources for ensuring minimal environmental impact if buying new items: www.greenprocurementcode.co.uk

3. Timber – try to source timber that is recycled or, if new, FSC certified. Try Leaside Wood Recycling Project for cheap recycled timber – www.lwrp.org.uk

4. Paint – avoid harmful airborne chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in ordinary paint, a big contributor to climate change, and many of the chemicals are also highly toxic and linked with health problems such as respiratory disease, asthma, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin disorders, eye irritation, liver and kidney damage and cancer: www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/NonToxicPaint.html

5. Lighting – consider employing innovative low energy lighting technologies / setting an energy cap as per Arcola production of Living Unknown Soldier (2008). Visit Arcola Energy site for a wealth of information including kit lists: www.arcolaenergy.com/contribute/category/green-theatre/low-energy-lighting/

Switch the rig on as near to the performance as possible and promptly turn it off at the end of a performance. Also see White Light’s Green Guide to Lighting – www.whitelight.ltd.uk/greenguide

6. Recycling – Try to find a reuse for materials wherever possible, or implement recycling schemes for sets and props, batteries, lamps and costumes. Use www.freecycle.org to donate costumes, props etc. (also see point 1)

Company

7. Travel – encourage company members to cycle or use public transport. Plan meetings/rehearsals to minimize travel requirements where possible.

8. Electricity use – turn off lights when not in use / when vacating rehearsal space.

9. Waste – use the theatre recycling and composting facilities. Where appropriate report waste to a member of the Arcola Sustainability team who will support in its sustainable disposal.

Audience

10. Audience travel – publicise your sustainability efforts and encourage green travel methods on marketing materials. Market to, and engage, local audiences.

What do you think about our Top Ten Tips? Would you add or change anything? Let us know!

Add your comments…

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Theatre Materials: What is theatre made of?

Theatre Materials: What is theatre made of?

Eleanor Margolies, editor
published by Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre/Central School of Speech and Drama (CETT)
ISBN: 978-0-9539501-5-7

Artists, engineers and architects look at the raw materials of theatre in Theatre Materials: What is theatre made of?. An illustrated collection of essays, edited by Eleanor Margolies, it delves into the matter of performance, from portable theatres to street arts, the physics of materials to low-energy lighting, mirror neurons to acrobatics.

Eleanor Margolies writes ‘Theatre artists are experts in materials: the costume maker records how different textiles respond to dyes, the prop maker seeks out compounds and techniques developed for boat-building and aeronautics, the director and actor study the body. But these forms of knowledge, which combine tactile experience with thought and imagination, are too rarely articulated outside the workshop’.

Contributions include:

  • reflections on ‘six real things’ by celebrated American director Anne Bogart;
  • theatre critic Robert Butler trying not to sink into a muddy swamp;
  • scenographer Pamela Howard auditioning fur and lace for an opera set in 1950s New York;
  • cartoonist Tim Hunkin taking off his kid gloves;
  • Zoe Laughlin, curator of the Materials Library, smashing roses and blasting memory alloys back into shape;
  • puppeteer Sean Myatt rambling around a landscape of performing objects;
  • professor of theatre Alan Read on anthrax, cement and the lure of material facts.
The book is a record and continuation of the The Theatre Materials/Material Theatres conference at CETT.
Other contributors are:

  • Rene Baker (puppeteer and lecturer at the Institut del Teatre, Barcelona)
  • Anne Bogart (Artistic Director, SITI Company, New York)
  • Jane Heather (illustrator and theatre designer)
  • Joanna Parker (scenographer, Central School of Speech and Drama)
  • Paul Rae (performer and lecturer, National University of Singapore)
  • Bob Sheil (architect, the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
  • Ben Todd (Executive Director, the Arcola Theatre).
For more information, contact Gail Hunt at CETT:
cett@cssd.ac.uk
t: 020 7449 1571

See Eleanor Margolies articles here on the Directory on puppets and animals onstage and on the first feast.
Robert Butler blogs here.

Low Energy Lighting – Carbon Trust Information Packs

The Carbon Trust (www.carbontrust.co.uk) has some excellent information on low energy lighting solutions. See: www.carbontrust.co.uk/publications/publicationdetail?productid=CTV021

Spend some time on the website – there is a huge amount of relevant information. Much of the information requested by the arts sector is already there…

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