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Installing backstage ‘blues’ lighting

A project that I recently completed, was to install ‘blues’ around the stage area at The Little Theatre in Nairn. In case you don’t know, ‘blues’ is simply the name given to the low level working lights for the cast and crew working in the wings. Typically these are just low wattage lights with a dark blue filter on them, hence then name.

So The Little Theatre up until now got blues lighting from whatever stage lanterns I had spare, which was a struggle at times since we haven’t a massive stock of lanterns. It also relied on there being a dimmer channel spare, which is sometimes also a struggle. I decided after last year’s panto that we should consider putting in a permanent set of lights, and after pricing it I found that it could be done for about £150.

After getting the okay from the committee, I ordered up the various parts, which was basically some birdies (PAR16‘s), bulbs, conduit, cable, and miscellaneous other bits and pieces to join it altogether. I think it took about 5 afternoons in total to get everything installed. The biggest challenge was drilling about 50 holes in the concrete block wall, as it just seemed to eat drill bits!

The end result of all this work is three independent sets of lights controlled from a triple gang switch in the prompt corner. There are 3 lights in the stage-left wing, 3 upstage on the back wall, and 2 in the stage-right wing, all with 35w bulbs and a dark blue filter. After a quick test it looks like I may need to need to reduce the wattage of some of the bulbs, because there is a bit of light spilling onto the stage, but I have some 20w bulbs spare anyway. In the future I plan to swap the tungsten bulbs for the blue LED equivalent.

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