White Light Installs New House Lighting at Young Vic Theatre

Located on The Cut near London’s South Bank, the Young Vic is one of the capital’s most exciting theatres, showcasing work and artists from across the globe. The venue recently decided to replace the house lights in their Main House space and approached White Light to oversee the installation.

Chris Harris, WL’s Installations Business Development Manager, commented: “The Main House at the Young Vic is really impressive, spread across three floors with a capacity of up to 550. Every one of these seats needs house lighting, both for practical purposes as well as adding to the mood of the in-house production. The original house lights were GU10 Birdies and had been in there for 10 years so it was definitely time for a change.”

The project was overseen by the Young Vic’s Head of Lighting Nicki Brown and Senior Lighting Technician Nicole Smith. Nicki stated: “A major problem was that the previous fittings simply did not provide enough coverage for all of the seats, resulting in some being lit and others being missed. To counter this limited coverage, we would have to run extra birdies in from our theatre stock, which became problematic – especially as we had to do it in a different configuration for each show!”

WL worked closely with GDS to improve the original set-up. This included installing a series of GDS MR16s as part of the Inner and Outer Ring. With the MR16 being a compact LED unit that only consumes 10 watts, it was the ideal product to provide illumination for the house seating and WL installed 60 of these on the first floor balcony alone. To control the lighting, WL picked up the power from the existing circuits and used this to run new data across all three levels. This was all controlled by LSC DMX splitters.

Due to the layout of the Main House space, the house lighting had to integrate with the theatrical lighting rig. Chris stated: “On the bridges, where the theatrical lighting rig is positioned, there were 12 ETC Source Four Parnels. These were positioned to light the first three rows of the audience. Therefore we had to find a replacement that was a similar size to the Source Four Parnel, as anything larger would block the main lighting rig and potentially cause patches on the stage.”

After demoing a range of lights, it was decided that the ETC Colour Source PAR was the ideal solution. Chris adds: “The ETC Colour Source PARs are compact yet extremely powerful. They also produce a range of colours with the touch of a button meaning there doesn’t need to be any jarring between the house lights and the pre-set lighting on stage. Rather, the two can blend seamlessly.”

WL also worked with GDS to formulate a solution for the Exit signs. Chris states: “A problem with many productions is that the Exit signs are often both visible and bright during a performance. To counter this, we created custom-made Exit signs using Philip Payne signage with GDS Drivers that could be remotely dimmed using DMX. This means that the show can achieve a perfect blackout if needed. Similarly, we created portable Exit signs that could be moved around according to the production’s requirements, working with the bigger sets that might use the most of the space.”

The installation took three weeks to complete and there have already been five shows in the space utilising the new set-up.