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Corby Cube

Theatre InstallationThe striking Corby Cube is home to no less than three performing arts spaces, including the Core Theatre. Installation Europe reports

If you haven't been to Corby recently you may be pleasantly surprised when you see the latest addition to its skyline. The new £40m Corby Cube opened its doors on 1 November 2010 and with over 2,050 panes of glass arranged in a perfect cuboid structure, designed by architects HawkinsBrown, it's certainly a striking-looking building from the outside. Inside, the Cube houses council offices, a public library, restaurants and, at its heart, the Core Theatre, forming an integrated civic centre and arts space.

Peter Downes, of the East Midlands Development Agency, said: "We have worked closely with a range of partners to deliver this project. A fantastic milestone has been reached with the completion of this great facility." Among those partners was stage lighting and audio system integrator Stage Electrics, whose project manager, Martin Woodage, commented: "We took on the project about two years ago when it was in its initial stages, and just an empty shell and it has been exciting seeing it come to fruition."

The venue comes under the auspices of Corby Council and is operated by the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northamptonshire, whose technicians were brought in to run The Cube's three spaces.

Theatre InstallationThe 450-seat Core Theatre, whose plush red interior is rather more conventional in appearance than the exterior, is a multi-functional proscenium theatre with motorised over stage flying. Designed for theatre, lectures and more, it hosted its first production in December 2010 in the shape of the pantomime Hansel & Gretel. Its curved retractable bleacher system facilitates a flexible, flat-floor auditorium space that can hold up to 700 standing in various configurations including in-the-round. Its smaller companion spaces, The Lab and The Base, together provide a versatile and highly flexible performance facility.

Working to a brief from theatre consultants Charcoalblue and HawkinsBrown, Stage Electrics designed and installed the audio systems, and stage and working lighting systems, for both the Core Theatre and The Lab, as well as a full paging system and assisted hearing systems.

As with many projects the installation team faced a few unexpected challenges along the way, not least the bitterly cold conditions they had to contend with during construction over the 2009/10 winter. "The team on site started referring to it as the Corby Ice Cube at one point," said Woodage. "It was so cold that we had water freezing on stage." Weather aside, the challenges also included some exceptionally long cable runs. "There were a few challenges with putting cables in," he added, "because they are such long cable runs. In some cases we had to get from the dimmer room on the fourth level to the lower stage level, using containment runs that went outside of the theatre space, and then long drops down to the stage locations."


Audio SystemThe Core Theatre's audio system was specified largely for stage reinforcement, rather than a being intended as full-on sound concert system. The main proscenium system comprises six d&b audiotechnikQ7 bass-reflex loudspeakers per side with a pair of d&b Q-SUB bass-reflex subwoofers, powered by a d&b D12 rack mounted amplifier with integral DSP. d&b MAX12 loudspeakers were specified for stage monitoring and general portable sound system duties, powered by d&b EPAC amplifiers with integral DSP.

In command in the control room is a Midas Venice console and an accompanying rack of effects and processing including a Denon DNV100 CD / DVD player, Tascam CD 01U CD Player, Tascam CDR-900 CD recorder, DBX 2231 31-band stereo graphic equaliser, DBX 166XL dual compressor limiter and a Yamaha SPX 2000 digital stereo effects processor. Assisted listening systems consist of AKG C568EB cardioid microphones and Sennheiser infra-red processing and distribution units, along with an Ampetronic induction loop system.

The show relay system consists of an RCF PR4092 9:2 preamplifier and mixer, Symetrix 528EEQ/compressor/limiter and a Sonifex 1-in-12-out audio distribution amplifier, while installed paging loudspeakers are surface-mounted Penton Sentry 6/RTC 32 and RCS6 22 ceiling units and wall-mounted Penton Sentry 6/STC 11s and Martin Audio C4.8Ts, all powered by an RCF paging amplifier.

Stage Electrics also custom built a fully equipped Stage Managers' desk with clock, stopwatch, work lights and cue light control, and a wired dual-channel rack-mounted intercom station with gooseneck mic and speaker station.

The lighting system is similarly compact but perfectly formed, based on a total of four ETC Sensor dimmer racks to give 196 ways of dimming, with a Congo control desk, while the working lights and house lights feature a Unison-based system.

The lighting rig comprises a front of house gantry, with ten bars on stage and two fly galleries on either side. In the rig are a total of 20 fixed lens Source 4 profiles and 40 zoom lens versions, together with 10 Parnels, 10 Selecon Arena fresnels, 30 Rama PC and Fresnel fixtures, and 20 Thomas Par cans.

The company's commission also included installation of performance sound and lighting for the smaller performance space, The Lab. Designed as a multi-functional workshop and rehearsal space for use by schools and smaller groups, the same technology used in the Core Theatre was specified, but on a smaller scale. Stage Electrics installed a Sensor dimming system with a Smart Fade desk, with 96 ways of dimming. Said Woodage: "With another, smaller d&b sound system, a small playback rack and a wall-mounted CD player, people can just come in, put some music and lights on, and they're ready to rehearse."

Owners Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northamptonshire are suitably delighted with the results. Says Martin Sutherland, Royal & Derngate chief executive: "Having a dedicated space in the country to enrich the lives of the people in Corby is really exciting."

A view reinforced by the Core's creative director, Chris Sudworth: "This town has a rich history of creativity and culture, and is bursting with talent. Everyone is welcome at The Core to meet, see top class performances, get involved in creative workshops and express themselves. The local communities now have the performance venue they deserve."

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