The city of Mesquite along with the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation granted a total of $70,000 to the Mesquite Community Theatre (MCT) for lighting upgrades; $60,000 from the city and $10,000 from GMAF.
With that money the theatre committee purchased an ETC (Electronic Theatre Controls) computer-based lighting system with an EOS-brand platform called Nomad.
The Nomad can be taken anywhere with the aid of a device called a dongle which fits on any keychain.
The system is already up and running with 24 lights. The theatre plans to add another 35-40 lights to the stage and theatre essentially allowing for every corner to be lit from the entry doors to the very back curtain on the stage. Elliptical lighting will be installed giving the capability of lighting a broad section down to pinpoint lighting of up to a dozen different areas of the stage simultaneously.
Bob Nelson, Christopher Finnegan and Glen Bjornson have worked out a plan for the best lighting system with the most capabilities in Mesquite. The community theatre will have a lighting system that is not only portable but capable of handling any lighting situation for any type of show you can imagine.
A few of the features of the system will be the ability of offline, anywhere system programming and the availability of a cell phone application ($50 for download) for directors so they can run the system from their smart phones reducing the need for technicians during rehearsals. This gives the directors far more flexibility as well as control over rehearsals and schedules.
The system is also extremely user friendly and with the availability of online tutorials, easy to learn completely at your own pace. Finnegan and Nelson both commented that it took about 20 minutes for Nelson to look at the touch screen monitor and program a lighting situation without reading a single direction.
The system allows for the full spectrum of color and the intensity of light can be configured from one to one hundred. The possibilities for ambient lighting are endless allowing controllers to program percentages such as light #12 at 50% intensity, light #15 at 75% etc., independently to add dimension, mood or just to light one area more than another for a multitude of reasons.
Finnegan said the ETC system is the most widely used among theatres and showrooms in the U.S. because of its portability, ease of use and unlimited potential.
The new system also doubles the output from 1,024 channels to 2,048 channels allowing the theatre to add additional elements to productions such as fog machines and other special effect devices that presently need to be run by a technician backstage but in the future can be run from the catwalk.
Finnegan said the new lighting system will outshine most theatres in its capabilities and will certainly be the best lighting system available in Mesquite. The MCT committee hopes to draw many different types of shows to the community theatre which will, in the near future, support nearly any lighting situation anyone can imagine without limitations.
Energy efficient LED lighting has replaced the old incandescent bulbs allowing for brighter lighting with far less wattage and longer life. Finnegan, one of the masterminds behind the upgrades, says that the LEDs will cost the theatre about $10 a year to use, saving many dollars over just one season alone.
The theatre also has a brand new scrim (projection screen) which is a far higher quality than the old. The new scrim will allow a much sharper image to be projected. Scrims have a multitude of uses in theatre productions. They can be used to project scenery thus making scene changes as easy as the push of a button. They can be used to hide something behind and backlight to ‘reveal’ certain people or objects or used to create moods and effects. The old scrims were loosely woven and had a level of transparency to them. Projected images were fuzzy and objects were difficult to hide. The new scrim is very tightly woven, larger and heavier allowing for a much smoother surface.
Local cowboy poets are donating a 65-inch television that will be mounted on the front of the catwalk and used as a teleprompter.
To the non-theatre person this may seem trivial but it’s exciting news to the theatre and entertainment industry here in Mesquite. However, the new lighting will provide a venue for shows to be brought to Mesquite without limitations or having to compromise the show’s lighting or effects.
Outside agencies who don’t currently bring in Vegas-style shows due to their stage limitations now have a place for shows that will boost local entertainment potential and giving them an opportunity to utilize and support the community theatre.
The first show set to utilize the new equipment is Virgin Valley Theatre Group’s 2016-17 Season opener, “Blithe Spirit” set to open in October. For more information on the Mesquite Community Theatre visit the GMAF web site at www.mesquitegmaf.com.