grandMA2 for Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
The College - which offers some of the most sought-after BA and MA courses in Stage Management as well as Acting, Theatre Design and Music courses, stages up to 18 drama productions a year and numerous music events, including student works and commercial shows. The College has owned a grandMA ‘series 1’ for 3 years, and so is well aware of the capabilities of MA Lighting's control platform and its superb reliability.
The grandMA2 was specified by senior technical lecturers and the technical operations department following detailed discussions about training and operational needs. The decision was fully endorsed by the College's Technical Operations Manager Simon Denman-Ellis, who took up his new post at the College after 15 years as Technical Stage Manager at Cardiff's busy St David's Hall venue, which also took delivery of its own grandMA2 full-size console in the last year. Following his positive experiences with the grandMA2 full-size Simon agreed that an MA control solution should be considered for lighting in the Richard Burton Theatre.
Apart from the fact that the College wanted a powerful console that would enable the programming of sophisticated shows, they also recognised that as an industry standard product, the grandMA2 would be a fantastic learning tool that all the students should have access to.
The College has a policy of offering cutting-edge equipment from a range of manufacturers across all their performance spaces, allowing students to have as broad a range of experience as possible of the technology they will encounter in their professional careers. Through his previous work, Simon appreciated the many features of the grandMA2, particularly its full user-configurability. "It's fabulous to use and programme, especially in the theatre environment," he enthuses.
He thinks that as a programming tool, it is the very best option, as users can set it up and configure exactly as they wish, offering an enormous amount of flexibility processing power: "You can do anything you want on the grandMA2 - the only limit is the imagination of the user," he declares. Cutting his teeth on the MA Lighting philosophy at St David's Hall was an invaluable experience - often they had only a couple of hours to programme the lighting for an incoming show, but using grandMA2 made this a straightforward task. "It is a complete joy to work with," he says.
Apart from the power and versatility of the console, Simon also appreciates the "superb and second-to-none" service and back-up from MA Lighting UK.
Once the paperwork and the purchase order were completed, the MA UK team had to process the order quickly so the College could take delivery of their new grandMA2 in time for the building's opening ceremony. This included its first show - two performances of the Dylan Thomas classic "Under Milk Wood". This production featured a lighting design by Mohit Basudev, a third year BA Stage Management student and himself an experienced grandMA ‘series 1’ programmer, who was absolutely delighted to get hands-on with the new console.
"It was amazing," recalls Simon, "We quite literally took it out the box, plugged it in, set it up - which took about 2 hours at most - then we were ready to go. Everything worked exactly as it should first time. Fantastic!"