The Ernest Oppenheimer Theatre, located in Welkom, was opened on 15 February 1968 and is named after the mining magnate, and founder of Welkom, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer. The drive to build a theatre in this Free State mining town came from a certain Mrs. Martie du Plessis, the wife of the Administrator of the Free State. She had the pleasure of presiding over the opening ceremony, which was also graced by Gé Korsten, who starred in the opening production, Bedelaarstudent.
The theatre was designed and built with an eye on the grandeur of European architecture. The vision was to create something of lasting beauty and benefit, a monument to art. The Yellowwood used throughout the theatre, and the glass tubes in the foyer, were imported from Austria and hand-crafted on site; as was the magnificent crystal chandelier that hangs in the auditorium. The larger two of the four beautiful tapestries gracing the foyers were designed by the famous South African artist Eleanor Esmonde-White; and the two smaller tapestries by Cecil Skotnes, another famous South African artist. The theme of these tapestries, which were hand-woven in France, is 'Birth of the arts through diamonds and gold'.
The Ernest Oppenheimer is the first theatre in the Southern Hemisphere to cater for Paraplegics, with specially designed toilets, and space in the auditorium aisles for wheel-chairs. The theatre was one of the first to offer head-sets for the hard of hearing, and seat-lights to allow patrons to read programmes.
It is a sad irony that this wonderful facility, so welcoming to people with special needs, was off-limits to black South Africans. Thankfully the bad days of Apartheid are over and since the late 80s the theatre has been a world class community resource that enriches the lives of all Welkom residents. When, in 2011, a fire damaged the stage it was decided to use this as an opportunity to refurbish the theatre; retaining the class – but adding a modern touch.
The Theatre Manager, Mrs Dulcie Harris, worked closely with the Matjhabeng Municipality in ensuring that refurbishments to the facility did justice to its reputation as South Africa's finest theatre. When PROMAG contacted Dulcie she made special mention of the instrumental role of the Municipality in ensuring the project was a success. She also expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust; to Denis Hutchinson (theatre consultant); and to all contractors for working so hard in meeting their deadlines and maintaining a high standard of workmanship.
Team Electrosonic SA, with Omar Sharfoodeen as head technician, had the massive task of redoing the dimming and cabling for the theatre. This involved laying 1200m of new cabling, putting in new dimmers, rewiring 168 outlets, and rewiring the lighting bars and DMX ties. They only had a couple of weeks to do it, but in true Electrosonic SA style they met their deadline and completed the job with the care and excellence associated with the company.
The theatre also obtained lighting kit from Electrosonic SA, including: two Robert Juliat follow-spots, sixteen Martin Mac Aura wash lights, two Martin Rush MH LED profiles, Martin DMX Splitters and a Martin M2GO Controller. Renier Smit, Technical Sales and Support, headed the Electrosonic SA team on the project and Jesse Dullabh, Technical and Controller Support, is responsible for on-going training. Dulcie was extremely happy with Electrosonic SA's service and commended Renier and the team for 'going the extra mile' to bring state-of-the-art lighting to her theatre. Dulcie, who has been the Theatre Manger since 1996, anticipates a new golden era for the Ernest Oppenheimer Theatre: "Words cannot express my excitement in seeing this theatre operational again, and I welcome back all theatre supporters with much enthusiasm."
Early in 2012 I received a request from Theo Papenfus of Stage Effects to find out what Martin Professional is working on and what is going to be their next best seller after to the ever popular Mac2000. I told Theo that Martin is planning to release a product shortly to replace the Mac2000 range. Having had a great track record with using Martin fixtures he agreed to wait "And it was worth it," said Theo, "The response to the Mac Viper Range has been huge worldwide. So I placed and order for 8 units".
It proved to be an inspired decision, and due to the great reception of the first 8 Mac Viper units in the country, Stage Effects decided to expand the offering by acquiring another 4 Mac Vipers. Theo loves the power combined with superb optics, zoom and colour mixing. "It's the best we have seen on a moving head profile yet. I know I made the right decision when I purchased the Mac Viper".
Stage Effects' recent purchase of the Mac Viper Profile and the Mac401 RGB DUAL has raised the bar on the quality of production they can deliver even further. Catering for the international touring market and the technical riders of foreign stars; the lighting equipment they would ideally use and request.
The MAC Viper Profile is a new breed of high-output profile luminaire with an exceptional feature set, superior light quality and a highly efficient optical system. It outperforms all market-leading profiles in the 1200-watt range and is even an alternative to 1500-watt fixtures. The Viper Profile is not only brighter; it is also a faster and more compact solution. With its 1000-watt HID source, the Viper consumes less power, making it over 50% more efficient than its 1200-watt rivals.
Stage Effect recently landed a few international productions which included the hard rock sensation "Chevelle" at Carnival City earlier this year. Chevelle is a multi-million selling rock band that formed in 1995 in Grayslake, Illinois, USA. By integrating all 12 Mac Vipers into Chevelle's lighting design Stage Effects took the production over the edge; dominating the lighting on stage with some highly impressive programming done by Theo himself. Chevelle rocked the stage at Carnival City and was the perfect opportunity to showcase the Mac Vipers in action.
Congratulations to Stage Effects on their investment in Martin Professional. We look forward to continuing our close working-relationship with Stage Effects in the future.
Stage Effects: Loving the Great Outdoors
Stage Effects is a lighting, structure and visual company based in Woodlands in the East of Pretoria that was established in 1989 by Theo Papenfus. "I established Stage Effects in 1989 when I came out of tech, so I've been going for 15 years. That's a long time," said Theo.
"My first purchase of automated lights was from Electrosonic SA, we go way back," he added. Stage Effects also does broadcast and corporate work, live acts and outdoor festivals. Whereas similar companies aim to land corporate work, Stage Effects has carved out a niche as outdoor events specialists. "I started out lighting small bands, I still do," said Theo "And it grew from there. Stage Effects has built a reputation as a company that can handle the extremes of outdoor events: the extreme heat or cold, the dust or mud".
Previous clients include Hilltop Live Productions, Beanstalk, and Blue Array. In June this year Theo had the opportunity to work with US rock band Chevelle at Carnival City (see feature article alongside). He has also worked on large concerts with Yellow Card, Bullet for my Valentine, Babylon Circus and Sum 41.
by Robbi Nassi, Technical Sales & Support – Electrosonic SA
Come the end of June, it is time for the National Arts Festival. This year Renier Smit and I went to Grahamstown as part of the Electrosonic SA sponsorship, as we do every year during Festival Time. This year we decided to focus on Lighting Controllers, and by us supplying lighting controllers for specific venues eased the shortage that was experienced in the past.
We had five Martin M-Series Consoles that had been set up by Jesse Dullabh during the first week of the Festival. These included the M6, Maxxyz Compacts, M1, M2go and M2PC. Prior to this we had trained the technicians that would be operating these consoles, at our Electrosonic Training Facilities. We wanted to ensure they would be comfortable with these high-end consoles in their specific Venues. We are also delighted that the new addition to the M-Series the Martin M6 Controller had arrived just in time to set up in the main auditorium in the 1820 Settlers Monument. This gave us the perfect opportunity to début the M6 in RSA. It took control of the Main Venue at the National Arts Festival where we were able to do demos for various clients when the venue was quiet (which was rare). Naturally this would not have been possible without the assistance of the highly competent technicians/ freelancers involved, such as Tumisang Sebogo and Tumisang Mafora to name a few.
Renier and I were also on technical support for the equipment supplied, including some Martin Moving Heads, VersaLight Led Products, Dimming and - best of all the - M-Series Controllers.
Every day started afresh for us, as the Festival is a dynamic environment and with so much going on at so many venues, it is impossible to make any fixed plans. We saw clients if and when we could. We had fruitful meetings with people from PACOFS, Artscape, Market Theatre, Wits theatre, and Rhodes Theatre among others.
Apart from sponsoring lighting equipment Electrosonic SA was also involved with the branded sweaters that were supplied to technical staff of the NAF – as well as other bits of swag that was handed out. It was a pleasure to work with the National Arts Festival technical staff and assist them with providing the light that they needed to add the extra edge to an already thriving and successful festival.
The festival, is well-organized and technically-well executed, all because of Nicci Spalding (The Android Technician and Head of NAF Technical). This gave us time to visit and socialize with clients and, most important of all, building relationships and making lifelong friendships with the staff of the NAF. Apart from Nicci, these also include Ryan Burton, Alex Farmer, Ronnie van Jaarsveld (LineOut PE), David Opperman (Magnetic Storm PE,) Jayne Claire Burden, Jaques de Kock and Carol Reston (Rocco). We appreciate your friendship and we look forward to working with you at future Festivals.
Kearsney College, situated on the edge of the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu-Natal, has an award-winning choir ensemble which was founded in 1994, and has picked up twelve gold medals since 2000 at the World Choir Games. The College is renowned for its arts and culture programs, as well as for numerous sporting accolades. When an opportunity arose to upgrade the school hall's stage lighting system, this prestigious reputation and history was kept in mind and only world-class equipment was sourced to enhance the performance venue.
Nik Fairclough from Northwind Recording received the brief to supply a world class lighting system that was simple to control events ranging from a weekly assembly, all the way up to a major school production. Virtually the entire old system was replaced. Electrosonic KZN in conjunction with Bruce Schwartz from the JHB branch opted to integrate as many of the advances in LED based technology as possible. Apart from their energy-saving benefits, the LED fixtures are small and unobtrusive. The client did not want large fixtures cluttering the decor. Brand new cable-ways and new Electrosonic Pre-wired bars were installed. An Electron dimmer and a complete DMX network were also installed. The award-winning Martin Professional MAC Aura LED Wash was used as the workhorse fixture along with MAC 350 Entour LED Profiles. Versa-Light LED Parcans in both RGB and Amber White Versions were also used. Atmosphere was created with a JEM Compact Hazer Pro. All this was controlled by the versatile and popular Martin M1 control desk. Northwind Recording was appointed as the consultant by Kearsney, and project managed the complete installation. Evan Lyle from KZN Electrosonic branch handled the training and was also on hand for their first show, a school play festival which was a resounding success, much to the delight of a very happy Kearsney College.