After making substantial investments in Martin by HARMAN MAC Encore Performance LED fixtures in separate tranches over the past three years—in part of a major overhaul of its three theatres—the National Theatre recently completed the upgrade to the Dorfman Theatre, as the space heads towards becoming 100% LED. Their investment in MAC Encore Performance CLD fixtures for the first time moves it into an entirely sustainable LED environment, including focusable house lights.

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Caption: Rochelle Rose, Kudzai Sitima and Karl Collins in Rockets and Blue Lights at the National Theatre.
Photo credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

(Click for hi-res version)

The 13 MAC Encore Cold White heads, supplied by Stage Electrics to replace a conventional tungsten source, complement a similar number of MAC Encore Performance WRM fixtures on the basic rig. These can be supplemented by additional fixtures held by the National’s Lighting Resources department.

According to the National’s Head of Lighting, Matt Drury, this represents the latest phase in a long capital development programme for the complex which dates back to 2013. This was the year before the Cottesloe Theatre transformed into the Dorfman, and the infrastructure was partly reconfigured.

The pre-existing moving lights—industry standards at the time, and including the Martin TW1—have duly been replaced, along with the generics. The TW1s made way for the MAC Encore Performance WRM Washes in 2019 and it would only be a matter of time before these were complemented by 12 of their cold white counterparts. However, the intervention of Covid mothballed plans until this year.

Standardisation on LED had always been the goal for the Dorfman, confirms the theatre’s Lighting Supervisor, Jack Champion. “It was a straight swap over to the MAC Encores regarding rig positions,” he said. “It has also made life easier regarding cables—we now have everything on the same connector.”

Describing the MAC Encores as “workhorses”, he says, “They provide the subtlety and colour temperature that designers want coupled with the intensity and quietness that work well in the Dorfman.

“Being a smaller venue, most units are close to audience members. These units are quiet enough to never cause an issue which is a real bonus for us. With the replacement of the previous [tungsten] fixtures we have moved away from an all-warm rig now to have a mixture of warm and some cold units. This provides more flexibility for designers.”

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Caption: Cathy Tyson and Paul Bradley in Rockets and Blue Lights at the National Theatre.
Photo credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

(Click for hi-res version)

The current production of Rockets And Blue Lights has transferred from the Manchester Royal Exchange where it was lit by Jessica Hung Han Yun. The show unfortunately had to shut after the first preview due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It is now running at the National Theatre where lighting designer Amy Mae has embellished the lighting design to fit the space. The designer has since been using most of the MAC Encores to light the show.

Summing up, Jack Champion says, “These fixtures are great because they are so versatile. Combining warm wash and cold performance gives us the general cover but also the flexibility and intensity of being able to do precise shutter cuts to pick out certain elements for individual productions.

“The Dorfman is a very flexible venue that is almost never in the same configuration for consecutive shows. The rig and these units allow us to manage any configuration that is thrown at us without having to alter the standard.”

The final word comes from Matt Drury. “This latest installation fulfils our ambition to be more sustainable with LED sources. It’s where the industry is heading and for us it was the obvious decision.”

Martin by HARMAN is distributed in the UK by Sound Technology Ltd. For any further information please call 01462 480000 or email

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