Lighting with passion at Gospel Skouspel 2016
SOUTH AFRICA: For the past decade, Hardus Zevenster, from broadcast station Tygerberg FM in Cape Town, has brought to life the popular Gospel Skouspel – a praise and worship gospel music spectacular featuring local artists. Two years ago, Mr Zevenster contacted Marius Marais, from service and gear provider Audio Logic, to discuss a new look and feel for event. That’s when lighting designer Joshua Cutts, from lighting and staging company, Visual Frontier, was also asked to get involved. For Gospel Skouspel 2016, Mr Cutts asked Herman Wessels and Allan Miller to work alongside him as operators and co-designers for the second year running.
Gospel Skouspel 2016 took place in September at the Moreleta Park Auditorium in Pretoria and at the Grand West Arena in Cape Town, where the production was also filmed for DVD. MGG Productions were the main technical suppliers.
‘This is Hardus’ brainchild,’ offers Mr Cutts. ‘It’s a project he has put together for Tygerberg FM. He is really passionate about it and about getting gospel music to the masses.’ The artist line-up included Juanita du Plessis, Elvis Blue, Joe Niemand, Loyiso Bala, Henry Pike, Corlea and many others.
‘This year the challenge was to make it even more exciting and vibrant than last year,’ Mr Cutts continues. ‘We decided to make it look more technical, and used trussing over trussing to give it that advanced technologically styled look. We multi-layered the band, using truss structures as stages decks for the band members. These small stage structures raised the band at varying heights between 1.5m to 2m in the air. The trussing used for two entrances on stage were also dressed with lights fixtures, which added “bling and zing” to the whole truss and of course to the stage.’
The show is well organised, musically, and the production team works to create ambience and feel throughout the event, shares Mr Cutts. ‘Because they put so much effort into the music, we get to timecode it with precision which allows us to take an identical show from Pretoria to Cape Town. Once in Cape Town we don’t have to do much in the venue other than update pre-sets.’
Time code is, ‘just easier,’ says Mr Cutts. ‘That’s what people don’t understand. There’s more precision and once we get it right, it remains right.’ Lighting control was via MA Lighting grandMA2 consoles. ‘We had two of them in Grand West, with MA VPUs for pixel mapping and MA NPUs [networked processors] for backstage.’
While Mr Cutts designed the show, he appointed Mr Wessels as the operator and asked Mr Muller to works as the co-designer and to handle the project in Cape Town as Mr Cutts could not be there himself. Mr Wessels also went to Cape Town. ‘They’re a great team and they had lots of energy,’ says Mr Cutts. ‘Attention to detail, it’s what I noticed about the two of them. They’re both very meticulous, so when you put two like-minded people together, suddenly you get great results. What’s nice about working on a show like this is putting a new lighting team together with people whom you don’t often work with. As we’ve all been in the industry for a long time, you get to share experiences and share knowledge. It’s actually a growth experience for everyone.’
The industrial and technical looking stage theme carried out to the artists. Instead of the usual evening wear, they dressed in urban and modern attire, in order to complement the contemporary feel of the show. Gear-wise the show was pretty standard, according to Mr Cutts. ‘We followed our tried and tested tools of how we use lights for DVDs and a similar sort of lighting rig to what I use on most of my gigs. I used the Vuepix LED strips – 100m – which is the largest quantity I’ve used. It was a nice highlight in between the LED screens and it added a nice flavour to the whole stage. My tried and trusted Robe BMFLs were used as front lights, and of course I had my standard Robin range.’
Mr Cutts reports that he enjoys the Gospel Skouspel experience. ‘Why I enjoy doing it is because everyone involved in the project is extremely passionate and for them it’s a very important project. You kind of get drawn into the passion of it and you then become as passionate as they are.’