The new incarnation of Shakespeare’s Globe opened in 1997. Recently, Northern Light was contracted to replace its house light system with LED fixtures.
The Globe’s Project Manager, Paul Russell explained: “This is a very unusual project because this is a reproduction of the original Elizabethan building, modern technology needs to be inconspicuous. We need to do things in a way that may not seem logical or be the simplest solution to ensure we maintain the authenticity of an ancient structure.
“Northern Light had to be totally on board with this, so the long-standing relationship I have with them was really important. They understood they would have to go with me on everything: if they had to route a cable an extra 30 metres to keep it hidden, then it had to be done.”
The initial brief was to replace all the existing houselights with LED fixtures, adding extra fixtures to improve coverage and reduce energy consumption, as the lighting runs up to 12 hours a day. Additional infrastructure and fixtures were also installed to complement the existing emergency lighting.
The main auditorium at the Globe is open to the elements, so fixtures had to have a suitable IP Rating and, with both the supporting infrastructure and fixtures needing to be as discreet as possible, the Northern Light team needed to source a small, non-industrial looking product with a wide-angle lens that could withstand the elements.
Northern Light’s Michael Percy added: “The fixture also had to be dimmable via DMX, with a smooth theatre dimming curve and ideally be around the 2700-3000k colour temp, this didn’t give us a lot of options, but after contacting a handful of suppliers and having extensive demos, both onsite and in our workshops, we decided to go with dLED Illumination Technologies Ginger XL with Constant Current Push Drivers.”
Northern Light supplied and built four control racks and power distribution, with the system controlled via an ETC Paradigm or ETC Eos console. DMX distribution is via a Swisson DMX Node. Each circuit has its own dLED Driver located in one of the equipment racks, corresponding to its location in the venue.
The work was scheduled in phases on each level, with sections blocked off to allow everything to be done safely. The Globe’s in-house electrical and fabrication team installed the containment systems and all custom metalwork, including some custom brackets to allow fixtures exactly where they were wanted. Installation was handled by Northern Light’s London team, with most work being done in the early morning, which made it possible to work around the Globe’s rehearsal schedule.
Paul concluded: “The relationship I have with the Northern Light team, and in particular Michael, is really important because of the peculiarities of the building and it will be on-going; we’re very happy with what’s been done so far and there is still more to be done.”