31 Days Of Plots: R.U.N. By Cirque du Soleil

Live Design’s fourth annual 31 Days Of Plots features one production per day during the month of December 2021, highlighting a different lighting design, from across theatre, concert tours, corporate events, live for broadcast, and more, as we wind down 2021 and head toward the new year. Day 17 of 31 Days Of Plots 2021 kicks into high gear with the extreme action show, R.U.N. by Cirque du Soleil.

At the Luxor in Las Vegas, R.U.N. opened in October 2019 and closed in March 2020, due to Covid-19, as did all resident Cirque shows. The ace design team included set designer Bruce Rodgers, projection designers Olivier Goulet and Johnny Ranger, sound designer Jonathan Deans, and lighting designer David Finn.

“When preparing for R.U.N. there were a lot of unknowns,” explains Finn. “What we did know, however, is that we would have to meld the lighting aesthetically with a massive video installation, we knew that we had to cover a lot of square footage, and we knew that there would be the demand for a lot of varying visual effects. Think Cirque meets rock show meets video Installation meets theater meets stunt show meets Cirque again! In other words, be ready for anything. With that in mind we chose systems that would give us all of the above and incorporate fixtures which provided a lot of options when it came to effects and finesse.”

In terms of the fixtures used, Finn points out:

The Miro Cubes, Braq Cubes and Spiiders were chosen to put into the large side towers where a lot of ancillary action would take place over 4 stories, staircases, ladders, breakaway floors, a DJ booth, etc. and where quarters were tight, throws were short and heat would not be friendly. We worked with Set Designer Bruce Rogers and Director Michael Schwandt to optimize positioning in these massive, complex towers and then with Video Designers Olivier Goulet and Johnny Ranger to blend our world behind the giant scrim panels which fronted the towers into their world which projected onto these same panels. We had a small DJ booth which was rimmed with GLP Impression Bars and had a background of Titan Astera Tubes for color and effects when we wanted to draw attention there.

The Ayrton MagicPanel FX and Astera Titan Tubes were used inside a custom set of truss rigs (6 total) designed by ATD Joshua Hind. I felt that we needed one additional strong visual element overhead in this show that could fill and shape space. We put six units in each rig and they were able to use their full pan/tilt functions in combination with the rig tilting forward so it could either play vertically or horizontally or anywhere in between. We positioned them in a forced perspective downstage to upstage. Then we let programmer Benny Kirkham perform his magic and they, ultimately, became a key visual element that could highlight and support throughout. They could look “Rock ’n Roll” or “Street” or just be a beautiful array of color and patterning.

We had a lot of action FOH and the Proscenium arch and forestage were a key position for connecting the action onstage with that in the house. We rimmed the arch with Megapointes (powerful and with a lot of attributes) and also the JDC1 strobes. The forestage had a line up of the strobes and also MagicDots which were able to act as movable footlights. The JDC1 strobes are so much more than a strobe and, again, gave us a lot of visual language.

The remainder of the rig was laid out so that we would have ultimate flexibility. MegaPointes did the heavy lifting and we chose them because of the myriad of visual effects in their engines and because we knew we would have to produce a lot of tight beam work. We put them everywhere so that we could repeat the language from all positions. The Sharpys were laid out in arrays for visual effects. The BMFLs were scattered, mostly FOH, but also overhead for finesse work—shaping, key light for performers, and softer looks. The Wash did just that – provide backlight for the stage area, and the VLX Profiles were there for additional shaping work onstage. With a lot of help from Robe, we used the Robospots a few times with multiple sources controlled from a single rig.

“We were very happy with the way R.U.N. turned out,” admits Finn. “We had a long list of varying equipment but, ultimately, it worked to our advantage in a production that had so many visual requirements. The integration of lighting and video was extremely successful and that came down to the constant exchange of ideas between the two teams. Our lighting team was exceptional —ATD Joshua Hind (who guided us into the theater), associate Tim Reed, lead programmer Benny Kirkham, additional programming by Joshua Koffman, intern Brittney Price, operations chief Brad Seymour, crew chief Chris Kortum and his hard-working crew.”

R.U.N. Lighting Gear List

• 72 Rosco Miro Cube 4C
• 44 Rosco Iraq Cube 4C
• 30 Robe Spiider 30
• 36 Ayrton MagicPanel FX
• 12 Ayrton MagicDot XT
• 12 GLP JDC1 Strobes
• 60 Astera Titan Tubes
• 6 GLP Impression x4 Bar 20
• 16 Vari-Lite VLX Profile
• 44 Claypaky Sharpy
• 9 Martin MAC Viper Wash DX
• 55 Robe MegaPointe
• 16 Robe BMFL
• 4 Robe Robospot & Basestation

{ SOURCE: LiveDesign }