Sixteen Million Moods

Colour ScreenWe were never really sure this would ever work.  Ever since creating the lighting rig for Out of the Box Theatre I’ve always been proud of one feature over others, the colour-changing backdrop.   The white screen lit by three primary colours at 255 levels of intensity offers over 16 million colour combinations all manually adjusted in real time by one of our troupe.  Each subtle shift in colour and hue offers up a different mood to either enhance or contrast with the music and our performers.   But unfortunately we don’t always get to use it.

The Roxbury Hotel has always been a tight space to perform in, barely enough room for the people on stage let alone a huge back screen with support base legs jutting out and a bank of LED lights set behind.   While I love the visual effect the screen creates I’ve learnt to live with the idea that there are some venues it just can’t work in.

But the desire to work with our full lighting rig remains, so a week before our last performance Mark and I decided to take a fresh look at the problem.   A preliminary measure of the space indicated that the screen might just squeeze in the space in terms of height & width but still wouldn’t leave enough room on the stage for the players.   It all seemed a bit pointless but we decided to give it a go anyway and lugged the lighting gear from storage to the Rox and see if we could somehow make it work.

As we assembled the screen rig (a combination of aluminium tube, shock cord, Velcro and stage linen) a solution began to present itself.   If we leant the screen back against the rear curtains and tucked it under the curtain fringe at the top it wouldn’t fall over.  So no need for a supporting base with its legs jutting out.   Also there are hidden gaps between the curtains and the rear wall to tuck the LED light bar stands into.   Digital signal leads could be secreted against the wall behind the curtain.   All of a sudden we had a full colour backdrop taking up almost no space at all.  So it could be done.

On Saturday 29 March 2014, the audience saw the colour screen used at the Roxbury for the first time.  I had the privilege of performing that night.  During one scene when we needed to huddle on the stage, against an apparent cold winter outside, I saw the screen out of the corner of my eye.   It gracefully transformed from pale blue to snowy white.    I knew that Mark at the lighting desk had 16 million colours to choose from. That’s enough to lighten any mood.