Power Flying for the Heath Ledger Theatre

Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2011

New home of the Black Swan and Perth Theatre companies, and located inside the $100 million State Theatre Centre, the Heath Ledger Theatre is a 575-seat, multi-purpose venue for music, dance, and theatre.

The need for a new theatre was established around two decades ago and the Centre has been a long time coming – the result is an elegant new city landmark at the heart of the Performing Arts Precinct in the Perth Cultural Centre. And at the heart of the Centre itself is the deep-toned, gold-and-timber sanctuary of the Heath Ledger Theatre, an inspiring tribute to its namesake and a beautiful space in which to perform.

The state-of-the-art $100 million Centre opened earlier this year to speeches from the West Australian Governor and Premier, as well as Nyoongar elders and leading Australian actors. In addition to the Heath Ledger Theatre, the Centre also houses a flexible, 230-seat underground studio, a selection of rehearsal rooms and The Courtyard – an al fresco performance space. An advisory panel of around 70 specialists were involved in the design and build of the Centre, resulting in a construction that stacks the theatre and studio, in order to create surrounding space for The Courtyard.

Stage Technologies was contracted by Jands to provide control for the 58-axis power flying system. The solution comprised high-power Maxis SI control cabinets, 2 portable Nomad desks and one Solo handheld controller all with Chameleon technology, along with a wall-mounted Preset Station. The first shows to use the new cutting-edge control system took place during the Perth International Arts Festival in February and the theatre’s head flyman, Boyd Midgley, was the first to try out the new automation system. ‘The Nomad has an amazing interface and Chameleon is a great platform for making shows clean cut,’ he says. ‘The ability to move multiple bars safely and effectively is a great attribute and the result is a flyman’s dream, as the movements are perfect every time. This technology enables our shows to contribute to a really versatile programme within the State Theatre Centre.’

The combination of the portable Nomad ‘laptop’ style desk with complementary handheld Solos has proven enormously successful not just at the Heath Ledger Theatre but in venues such as London’s Royal Opera House and Royal Festival Hall, and KÀ by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. The range of vision provided by this particular desk combination offers best line of sight for operators, making automation management easier and more efficient. Nomads have been used in performances in over a dozen countries across the world, not including their popular use in cruise ship automation systems and in countless rental shows, and they are also used for stage control at the Melbourne Theatre Company’s Sumner Theatre and the Sydney Theatre in Walsh Bay.