September 30, 2021
LONDON, England—For the virtual 2021 iteration of the annual WhatsOnStage Awards, lighting designer Jack Weir used Martin Professional lighting solutions to translate the excitement and grandeur of live performance through the computer screen.
Held annually since 2001, the WhatsOnStage Awards celebrate excellence in the British live theater industry. However, due to social distancing regulations, this year’s ceremony was a virtual live stream broadcast from the Turbine Theatre, a more intimate venue than the show’s usual large-capacity locations like the Prince of Wales Theatre and the Dominion Theatre. This year’s show required a lighting system that effectively translated from the stage to the screen and performed efficiently despite the limited space, power and personnel available. Organizers turned to Jack Weir, a 2016 WOS Award nominee for his lighting work on the West End production of Boys In The Band, who created an impactful and versatile lighting system using Martin MAC Allure Profile spotlights, MAC Aura wash lights and P3 system controller software.
“It’s always a pleasure being invited back to light the WhatsOnStage Awards,” said Weir. “In 2021, we swapped the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End for the more intimate Turbine Theatre. Naturally, this brought some new challenges for the design. A significant reduction in performance area, a limitation on the number of performers for each act, and a smaller power supply meant we had to alter the usual quantities of lighting equipment we’d use.”
The lighting rig primarily featured Martin MAC Allure Profile spotlights, equipped with seven-segmented beam control and P3-enabled programming. Designed with versatility and simplicity in mind, the MAC Allure lights visually elevated the virtual performances while allowing plenty of power and space for film and production crews.
“I wanted a flexible fixture with a small physical footprint and good energy efficiency to use in the space,” Weir explained. “The Mac Allure fulfilled this requirement, and thanks to its powerful optics and seven-segment array, we were able to create some very versatile and unique effects when paired with the P3 software. It gave me a palette that could create seven different looks for each act that performed.”
To further heighten the visual atmosphere, Weir also utilized Martin MAC Aura single-lens wash lights with a built-in LED backlight array. With a broad color palette and wash angle support up to 58 degrees, the lights can produce eclectic and colorful designs across a wide coverage range.
Finally, the Martin P3 networked system controller was the central control hub for the show’s entire lighting system. With granular pixel-level controls and sophisticated automation procedures across both DMX and Art-Net protocols, the P3 platform allowed Weir and the other lighting engineers to work with accuracy and ease from a simple and intuitive setup.
The 2021 WhatsOnStage Awards show was a success, reaching thousands of remote viewers. Featuring performances from West End productions of Rent, Hairspray and more, the show exemplified the tenacity and vitality of the British theater industry and also paid tribute to front-line workers and volunteers for their efforts during the pandemic.
“Being able to share some of our newest technology, alongside some of our most established products, was a real joy,” said Matthew Wright, Application Engineer, HARMAN Professional Solutions. “It is always so satisfying to see how creatives take the training I show them and use it to create amazing new looks and effects—especially when I can see how much fun they have doing it.”