With the lockdown and Covid restrictions adding to the challenge, this year’s postgraduate students at the Dublin drama school faced no easy task, but with lights provided by Robe they achieved excellent results in four showcase productions
An exciting new collaboration between Robe and the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art at Trinity College Dublin has seen the lighting supplier provide a selection of moving lights – including T1 Profiles and T1 Fresnels, LEDWash 300 LEDs and ParFect 150s – on long-term rental. These were used to great effect by students for the Lir Academy’s 2020 Gradfest event.
Gradfest featured four back-to-back new productions in the Lir Academy’s two studio spaces, all lit by students completing their master’s degrees.
The Lir Academy’s conservatory training for students of theatre, film and television offers a dynamic fusion of creative and technical disciplines with bachelor degrees in acting, a general foundation course for theatre, MFA degrees for lighting, set and costume design, playwriting and direction and a BA in stage management and technical theatre.
Lir Academy head of lighting Eve D’Alton describes Gradfest as a stepping stone that truly galvanises the skills of the MFA students, who work with industry professionals to design and produce their shows to exceptional standards. It’s also an exacting experience for the final-year stage management and technical theatre students who help crew and facilitate these four diverse productions.
‘Having Robe’s support throughout the year has helped our students create innovative ways of working’– Eve D’Alton, head of lighting, Lir Academy
This year the four shows were Image of an Unknown Young Woman by Elinor Cook, Constellations by Nick Payne, Salomé, Or the Cult of the Clitoris: A Historical Phallusy by Mitchell Polonsky and Wish List by Katherine Soper.
The three lighting designers involved were Israel del Barco on Image of an Unknown Young Woman, Roberto Ventruti on Salomé, Or the Cult of the Clitoris, and Blue Hanley, who lit Constellations and Wish List.
The usual Gradfest procedure includes a week of tech for each show. This enables the directors to be as flexible as possible in crafting their work but it is, ultimately, still a highly pressured timescale.
An additional challenge for the three Gradfest lighting designers this year was that they had to start the creative process during lockdown and draw up their first drafts without access to the actual rooms.
The production team – including chief LX Dáire Cavanagh – and the students also had to contend with the new and evolving Covid-19 safety protocols.
D’Alton says: “They rose to the occasion with all the enthusiasm and invention you would expect from the Lir Academy’s students. The standards of production and levels of safety remained high and became integral to the learning process.
“I am extremely proud of the hard work that has gone into making our 2020 Gradfest happen. In the most challenging times for our industry, both staff and students have proven that the arts and culture are a viable and necessary industry and can be produced
safely and to the highest standards.
“Robe has always been a great supporter of young technical talent and having that available throughout the year to our students has definitely helped them attain higher potential and create new and innovative ways of working.”
‘Supporting such amazing up-and-coming talent in our industry is more important than ever’ – Theresa Gibson, head of marketing, Robe
Robe UK’s head of marketing Theresa Gibson says: “The students and tutors at the Lir Academy delivered an inspirational Gradfest 2020 with great success, despite the challenging circumstances and restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
She adds that it was wonderful to see the Robe kit in action aiding the learning experience by enabling greater flexibility for the lighting designers, programmers and operators, and assisting in delivering four outstanding productions.
“We are proud to collaborate with the Lir Academy, especially as we have a number of students, both past and present, who are members of our NRG (Next Robe Generation) community.
“Supporting such amazing up-and-coming talent in our industry is more important than ever, and the high-calibre shows produced for Gradfest 2020 were fantastic examples of everyone’s work and achievements.”
For more information visit Robe’s website