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Fitzwilliam Auditorium

About the venue
FitzTheatre exists to put on a wide variety of shows in Fitzwilliam's spanking new auditorium.
An outstanding building, it promises to offer much to the musical and theatrical life of the college.

To ensure that the Auditorium blends in sympathetically and in order to reduce the scale of the building within the scale of the gardens, one storey was constructed below ground and a sunken garden will add to the all-year colour of Fitzwilliam’s existing gardens. Wherever possible, the building uses materials from sustainable and local sources. The bricks, for example, have been chosen to match exactly the yellow Cambridge stock used to build The Grove nearly 200 years ago. Environmental and thermal aspects of the Auditorium’s space have been analysed, with particular attention to the control of solar gain by louvres around the glazed foyer. Natural lighting is maximised by the large windows. There is also an option for full blackout when required for dramatic performances. The new Auditorium is a first class modern, multi-purpose facility, which will greatly enrich the cultural life of the College and the local community. Moreover, the new facility will significantly increase Fitzwilliam’s power to attract the brightest and best students and Fellows in the future.

Acoustically, the auditorium is one of the best venues in Cambridge. With design consultancy from engineers at Arups Associates (whose acoustic projects have included Sydney Opera House, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, Queen’s Building at Emmanuel College, and the Royal Opera House), the auditorium uses adjustable sound flaps to create an environment that is perfect for any use.


Technical information
Retractable seating for up to 250 people in the audience is provided, and is generally accessed from the ground floor. The stage itself is at the basement level, with alternative audience entrance doors and access to the backstage facilities, which can be accessed from either the left or right and have their own external door. The Green Room, along with the other dressing rooms, are usually used by Music; if use is required this has to be arranged with Fitzwilliam's Music Director prior to performance. Backstage toilets and a shower are available.

All access to the auditorium itself is via any of the 4 acoustic lobbies on either the ground floor or basement level. They are all approximately 2 metres wide, but check this measurement prior to planning your set.

Cue light, intercom and video relay systems are not installed in the auditorium; thus cueing is up to the technical team FOH. A stage manager can be useful for keeping order backstage and ensuring that actors are in position for their cues, especially where large casts are concerned.


Lighting
All the lanterns are brand new (ie. a few years old and with only moderate use). There are around 20 generic Fresnel lanterns (~1kW), 6 Source 4s, 8 Par 56s, 6 Par 64s and 8 Par 56 footlights. There should be enough gel frames for most lanterns and there are a few barn doors for the Fresnels around.

Lantern cabling arrangements use a mixture of standard 15A round pin and 16A ceeform. A few adaptors are provided to convert from one to the other. Most lanterns are equipped with 16A ceeform due to the hard wiring installed.

The auditorium has 3 trusses, at "FOH", mid and front positions. The front truss is electrically winched while the other 2 are fixed. The front truss is also equipped with a data projector that hangs around 2m down from the truss; the college will make a charge if removal is required. Each truss is equipped with 6 possible ways of dimming via Socapex. The generic rig uses ceeform socket spiders to be compatible with the lanterns. In theory the front truss has 1 DMX socket.

At stage level, there are 2 63A ceeform sockets SR and 1 SL. SR also has 1 DMX socket, as well as 2 Socapex sockets.

The dimmer room is located on the first floor adjacent to the projection room that houses the lighting, sound and AV equipment. The theatre is equipped with 24 ways of dimming, however the usual houselight setup uses 3 ways of this total number. Pairing of channels can be completed at the dimmers. The fixed wiring is terminated in Socapex sockets and patching completed using 16A ceeform plug spiders. The dimmers are daisy chained using DMX for control. A further 2 63A ceeform sockets are provided in the dimmer room for additional dimmers.

Lighting control is via a Zero 88 Jester desk, capable of up to 48 ways of dimming. The desk is only capable of taking one DMX out line, so if you wished to add a DMX universe from the stage or front truss you would have to hire a DMX splitter.

The college does not allow auditorium users to access any of the truss, nor operate the electrically winched one. Instead they generally charge the production concerned if access is required, which has to be organised through the college.


Sound
The sound desk is a Soundcraft Spirit M12.

There are 2 speakers equalised to the higher frequencies along with 2 bass units FOH. For shows using radio microphones you may be better off hiring in speakers to be placed forward of the stage - the College specifically recommends this, having encountered problems before with previous performances.

An aux can be set up to feed sound to the foyer and backstage areas. Whilst the amplifiers are provided to do this, there is no permanent microphone for a show relay.

CD playback is achieved through a DVD/CD player combo, using the AV rack adjacent to the sound desk.

There are 4 radio mics installed - 2 lapel and 2 handheld. SL and SR both have 4 XLR sockets each at stage level.

Last edited Fri 9th May 2008 by Andrew Tedstone

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