Reasons To Be Cheerful: 1, 2, 3…
Our week at Hackney Empire was one which Graeae Theatre Company thought to be particularly important for the future of the production and budget was found to hire in a system. Reasons’ is a show which is billed as ‘part-gig, part-play’, so we needed a system which would really rock when the band kicked in, but had to be able to convey the story in all it’s anarchic spirit, energy, emotion, grit and grandeur.
After much discussion between the Production Sound Engineer, the Production Manager and Myself, we went for the KARA Line-array by L-Acoustics, which I have used on a few occasions in the past and knew that it was a system which would fill the 1,200 cap venue nicely. Inverting the rigging frame allowed us to ground stack the Kara boxes on top of the subs, and adjust the rear angles to fire up, underneath the circle balconies which form the four tiers of the Empire. We also added a centre hang of the Kara, with a further two SB18′s, which flew out on an advance bar to cover the top two tiers of the theatre. To bring the image in from the wide left and right ground stacks by the proscenium, we added a small fill of 3 more boxes which sat on top of a pair of B2′s in the centre of the auditorium.
This was certainly a reason to be cheerful; for most of the tour we had been at the mercy of the in-house systems which, as I have reported in my own tour blog, have occasionally left a bit to be desired. Now, don’t get me wrong… the equipment itself had rarely been the issue. More often than not the venues had reasonably new D&B boxes, which sounded great on their own; it was more the design or installation of the systems which made for hard work.
It is apparent everywhere you look and touring in a company which included disabled members with access requirements has really opened my eyes. On a number of occasions, when accessible rooms had been booked, there had been aspects of these rooms which have clearly not been designed by or even by consultation with, a disabled person. For example: an inaccessible bathroom in an accessible room. As a non-disabled person, one might think it is all well and good putting rails around the toilet and bath, which is a start, but surely removing the bath and making the whole room into a wet-room where a wheel-chair user, who might require assistance to get in and out of the bath, can sit and shower with ease and dignity would be the most sensible and thoughtful option? I know I have digressed from audio slightly, but my argument is that there is far too much design going on without sufficient consultation or follow up. This means that, whilst the design may well be suitable, if it has not been installed and implemented effectively and correctly, then it will lack the most important part- that it is actually fit for purpose.