National Theatre upgrades with new Martin MAC Encores

The National Theatre has joined the growing number of high profile organisations investing in Martin by HARMAN’s next generation MAC Encore LED moving head fixtures.

The theatre on London’s South Bank, which houses the Olivier, Dorfman and Lyttelton theatres, has embarked on a progressive upgrade, predominantly of its Martin TW1 halogen Tungsten Wash inventory. This month the theatre took delivery of a total of 42 MAC Encores from Martin dealer Stage Electrics.  All 42 units have been immediately installed in the permanent rig at the Olivier.

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According to Paul Hornsby, the NT’s Lighting Resources Manager, the acquisition forms part of a ten-year plan. “We review which equipment has reached end of life and decide what needs to be retired first — but the decision is driven by LDs as well. We only go dark for five days a year and we managed to replace these on the rig without losing a show.”

The purchase was authorised jointly by Hornsby, Matt Drury, Head of Lighting, and Jack Williams, Lighting Supervisor for the Olivier Theatre, and followed an intensive three-day evaluation against a number of competitive brands.

Organised by Stage Electrics Sales Manager, Paul Roughton, and attended by around 60 lighting designers and technicians from the NT and other London theatres, this took place on the Olivier and Lyttelton stages. “The Martin MAC Encore proved a real winner, primarily due to its colour mixing and repeated accuracy with the framing shutters,” he said.

The final installed inventory comprises 29 MAC Encore Performance (24 x WRM 3000K versions and 5 x CLD 6000K versions) and 13 x MAC Encore Wash WRM fixtures. The Performance fixtures were specified with optional enhanced Frost Flags and the Wash fixtures with optional PC lenses.

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Paul Hornsby confirms that achieving the tungsten look from an LED fixture had been the initial aim. “Our start point was to recreate what the Tungsten Wash did — and then look at additional feature set.” Key amongst the features, he said, was the quietness of operation, flexibility, energy-efficiency as well as the power output. 

The new MAC Encore offers unparalleled 3000 K warm tungsten emulation and 6000 K cold, with an advanced colour mixing system, offering fully variable colour correction.

Jack Williams describes the transition from the TW1s to Encores as seamless. “We switched the fixtures between runs of Macbeth and relit with the LED – it looked identical.  There has been ready acceptance of the Encore amongst leading LDs.” 

On the importance of flexibility Jack commented, “We are in rep and we have no idea from show to show what the sets and style will be. The flexibility of the Encore is superb and we’ve actually been able to reduce the number of other fixtures on the bridges.”

The MAC Encore offers record-breaking whisper quiet operation. “This is genuinely impressive and a vital feature,” Jack continued. “Directors are looking for near silence in the auditorium during intense passages on stage. Brian Friel’s Translations is a current case in point where we turned all the arc sources off. You immediately noticed the difference.”

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Photo above: Martin MAC Encores in action on Translations at the National Theatre
Photo credit: Catherine Ashmore

Matt Drury also emphasised the low size/weight ratio of the Encores and added that the ease of first line maintenance had been another key driver. He also highlighted the general low cost of ownership, with low consumption and without the need for lamp replacement. “Energy saving is vitally important and we were all of the mind-set that we would continue heading towards energy efficiency.”

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Photo above: Jack Williams (L) and Paul Hornsby (R)

In conclusion, Paul Roughton of Stage Electrics said, “We have supplied and supported Martin products for many years, and the Encore range continues their reputation for top class theatre products.”

Sound Technology Ltd distributes Martin lighting in the UK, as part of the HARMAN brand portfolio.




About The National Theatre

At the National Theatre, we make world-class theatre that is entertaining, challenging and inspiring, and we make it for everyone. In 2016-2017, the NT staged 26 productions and gave 2,585 performances at our home on the South Bank. The NT’s award-winning programme had a UK paying audience of 1.8 million, 400,000 of which were NT Live audiences.


The work the National Theatre produces appeals to the widest possible audiences with new plays, musicals, re-imagined classics and new work for young audiences. The NT’s work is seen in the West End, on tour throughout the UK and internationally, and in collaborations and co-productions with partners across the country. Through NT Live, we broadcast some of the best of British theatre to over 2,500 venues in 60 countries around the world.


Our extensive Learning programme offers talks, events and workshops for people of all ages, and reaches nationwide through programmes such as Connections, New Views and Let’s Play. In 2016-2017 there were 196,826 participations through the NT Learning events programme. Over 3,000 schools have signed up to the free streaming service, On Demand. In Schools, since its launch in September 2015.


The National Theatre is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.


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