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The Royal Shakespeare Theatre



Theatre InstallationEngaged as the technical coordinator for all of the specialist theatre contractors employed by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Stage Electrics completed its five-year-long role as the systems integrator right at the technical heart of this visionary transformation project of the Courtyard, Swan and the Royal Shakespeare Theatres (RST).

Stage Electrics supplied and installed the entire production dimming and control systems, production audio, lighting, video and communications infrastructure. We also designed and installed all of the electrical containment, cable and facility panels, as well as providing and commissioning the production audio and lighting equipment.

RST in ProgressThe transformation was designed to create, in artistic director Michael Boyd's words: "The best theatre in the world to perform the works of Shakespeare".

It involved a massive reconstruction creating a brand new RST auditorium with a thrust stage and embraced the adjacent Swan Theatre by connecting a colonnade between the two theatres and extensively upgrading the public facilities throughout.

Stage Electrics Project Manager, Jonathan Porter Goff led the Stage Electrics team, initially on the Courtyard Theatre, which was designed as both a temporary replacement for the original RST during its transformation and a proving ground for new design concepts, including the large thrust stage.


CAD DesignStage Electrics CAD department modelled the building in 3D to form the basis for the detailed design. The next stage was the production of an AutoCAD model to determine the placement of each piece of trunking and facility panel and the numerous audio, lighting, video, motion control, and communications networks. From that, the team produced 2D and 3D drawings of the entire containment infrastructure to show precisely how it would fit the fabric of the building, amid the other services, seating, steelwork and concrete.

Jonathan Porter Goff said of the CAD department's work: "It was a big tool in terms of resolving clashes before it got to the stage of installing containment onsite. It solved all sorts of problems and allowed the client and ourselves to see whether they could fly things past or even safely walk past the installed containment".


Stage Electrics also supplied the house lighting (co-designed with the RSC) and all stage lighting, auditorium sound, site-wide communications and audio-video paging/relay systems. As technical co-ordinators its team worked with key stage engineering contractors and with the Royal Shakespeare Company's Project Team, headed by project director Peter Wilson OBE, deputy project director Simon Harper and project coordinator Flip Tanner.

The installation included the provision of paging and relay systems, using facility panels custom fabricated in-house by Stage Electrics, incorporating both audio and video relay, enabling both staff and cast to keep abreast of each performance. On top of the manufacture and population of over 600 custom facility panels, Stage Electrics' in-house manufacturing department produced a number of bespoke solutions including stage manager desks, custom house light fittings and purpose designed mains distribution units.


RST InstallationFOH audio systems supplied and installed by Stage Electrics, designed principally for surround sound effects and underscore music, are controlled by a DiGiCo SD7T console, chosen by RSC head of sound, Jeremy Dunn, for its sonic transparency and powerful snapshot facilities. The PA comprises a largely self-powered Meyer system supplemented by a delay system from d&b audiotechnik. Providing the RST and Swan with an accomplished resource for sound effects and musical soundtrack creation are the in-house Dubbing Room and Recording Studio. Stage Electrics also worked with Ampetronic to install and commission complex induction loop systems for both venues.


RST in useLighting was very much a team effort with the RSC's head of lighting, Vince Herbert. Lighting control is supplied by Grand MA2 Light controls from MA Lighting - itself chosen by the RST lighting team after a year long trial of many consoles.

Lighting clusters designed and developed by the RSC were equipped by Stage Electrics with Swisson sine wave dimming and a pair of moving lights from a stock of Martin TW1s, Vari*Lite VLs, and a large complement of ETC Source Fours. Each cluster also carries the RSC designed Lightlock for stability, and an integral composite cable management system with 32A single phase power, DMX and Ethernet.

House and stage lighting dimming, also supplied and installed by Stage Electrics, is manufactured by ETC - Matrix iSine sine wave dimming in the RST and Sensor dimming for the Swan.

Jonathan Porter Goff sums up: "Stage Electrics has spent quite a lot of the last five years involved with the RSC, in The Courtyard initially and most recently at the RST and the Swan. We've enjoyed it enormously; it's been a great privilege to be involved in the transformation project for the RSC."

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