Holy Grotoskian Theatre Complaint – Spotlites Technician’s Blog

I have just had a complaint about one of my props for a show from an actor. It was a serious grievance but thought I would blog about it as it explains a lot about Spotlites style.
I was in the process of re-spraying a long wand for our hit show ‘Sleeping Beauty & the Time Lords’, it’s the one used by the cybernised guardian F8 in the show. Now while I was sanding down the old paint ready for a new undercoat and then a few top coats the actors were rehearsing a scene today in which the wand is used. Now as I knew this I had obtained a similar wand like piece of clear acrylic which I cut to the same length.
Now the complaint that came from the stage manager was that the wand wasn’t the same weight as the original I was working on and that the actor was unhappy. Now this would sound like a prima donna-esque thing I hear you say, but no, this is serious. As a theatre company which aspires to Grotowski’s methods it is very important to us that everything, including rehearsals, be exactly the same as a performance – this is holy theatre. The actor needs the wand to perfect his movement in the piece.
The funny thing is that there is no ego in Grotowski, no actor ego that is. So while it may seem trivial, it is the essence of our work. Holy theatre is Grotowski’s invention and it is all about ‘truth’ of performance.
This can also be seen in the notes that the Director gives the actors and technicians after every rehearsal and performance – it is not personal criticism, it is a note on how to improve – again with no ego, and all our actors crave feedback from Spotlites’ director as it is the sign that more improvement and a more holy theatre can be achieved. To not get notes is a bit of a concern for a holy theatre actor.
Anyway, my undercoat is now dry so I better get back to the first top coat on the wand.
Holy Theatre

Grotowski, Master of Holy Theatre

 Interested in learning more about Grotowsi – go through the links below:

Spotlites Technical Manager reveals what he packs in his Edinburgh suitcase

I am about to go to Edinburgh to build 3 theatre spaces in our own edfringe venue Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall and was thinking what is the most important thing to pack.

spotlites suitcase packed

packed full of gaffa tape?

Well, we spend about 3 months in technical preparation for the Edinburgh festival – this includes things like pat testing thousands of metres of cables, lights, fans, sound desks and all the electrical equipment we need. We also maintain all the equipment from simple changing gels in a light up to soldering pcbs (printed circuit boards) on a sound desk. But it is way more than that, for example we have to run in lots of cables for the lights in the theatre and we have to calculate the length of the cable – no point taking five 3 metre cables when you only need one 15 meter one and different things need different connectors. The sound desk uses jacks and xlrs, the lights need 15 amp connectors, the intelligent lights need 16amp and dmx connectors, laptops need rj45 connectors, printers use usb connectors, the dimmers use 63amp connectors on three phases – it is a logistical rollercoaster of interconnectivity.


spotlites cable connectors cheap

which ones goes where?

So how do we ensure it all works as it should – simple – we build the venue before we take it to Edinburgh. No, not actually get brick layers and plumbers involved, we set up the lights with their dimmers and the lighting console with all the cables, power, gels, dmx addresses, hanging ironmongery, we plug all the sound equipment into everything and test if everything all works. This may sound a bit like we over do things but we are restricted by the amount of actual time we have on site in Edinburgh. Then we spend ages labelling everything with how it links together.


spotlites cheap pat test label free

pass or fail

So back to the original question, what tools do we take – well not many as everything should just plug and play – although we do take our general tool box for repairs and maintenance. And I do sneak into one of the trucks our welding gear when no one is looking. So the most important thing I take with me is my spotlites schedule of fit-up and technical drawings – which is all on my laptop and printed out as a backup as well of course.


Spotlites technical cad drawing help

Technical Drawing of something



Why doesn’t theatre use adverts to increase revenue?

This blog is about theatre, you just have to read a bit of setting the scene first.

I have been watching bits of the Winter Olympics in Sochi on tv recently and noticed something which triggered my brain into action. Where is the advertising?

No coca-cola banners everywhere, no blow up Milka cow (the staple of downhill skiing), no Audi logos, no giant Ms arching across walkways and seemingly no advertising logos on competitor’s shirts. I seem to remember the London Olympics was full of these images blazoned across any surface available.

It is at this point that I must admit I saw absolutely none of the London Olympics, except the opening and closing ceremonies when walking past a giant screen in Edinburgh – yes I was at the Edinburgh festival running a venue, so completely missed the event. One day I will buy the DVD and have a proper patriotic look. But I have since seen extracts on the tv of bits of races and have noticed the sell out of sport to sugary drink suppliers.

Hang on a minute, this is a blog about theatre, yes, yes I am getting to the point, but let me talk about similar industries.

TV (except BBC who only advertise themselves) is full of adverts every 15 mins, commercial radio has numerous breaks for supporters, cinema has 20 mins of adverts before the feature starts but what about theatre?

A friend of mine was a tech on an ABBA sing-a-long touring show and they had a projector showing adverts before the show,
they displayed the lyrics for the sing-a-long on the screen and so the producers sold advertising space for pre-show.

Theatre programmes are no longer compulsory in my house, its full of advertising for restaurants for pre-show meals and other corporate nonsense and not enough about the actual production itself.

So why hasn’t theatre taken advantage of advertising revenue if we (the public) are so used to seeing KFC logos everywhere at events.

Why isn’t the proscenium arch lit up with burger king images, the orchestra pit could be sponsored by Npower,
the safety curtain could be the official partnered of DFS, costumes could be used to advertise Banks like football is.
Even the traditional old boys sport of cricket has logos on team shirts and on the pitch. Imagine a Shakespeare play with NATWEST logo painted on the floor of the graveyard scene of Hamlet.

Are we so scared of our efforts of trying to make theatre real that we actually make it appear unreal without advertising. Obviously shows that are not modern wouldn’t really stand up to adverts, I certainly wouldn’t want to see War Horse, for example, with Winalot Dog Food stuck on the side of the tanks.

But surely we are all so used to advertising that it wouldn’t make a difference, would it?

If theatre is struggling to stay alive in this recession filled world surely it would be better to keep it alive by selling out a tiny bit, rather than closing down, Music Hall became extinct due in part to cinema and TV (both use advertising)

Or should theatre be like the horse after the car was invented, just a play thing of the privileged and the hobbiest?