By Victor Seastone
We’re excited to introduce ETC’s On Headset, a new audio series that allows listeners to program in real time with a lighting designer as they construct the look of a major theatrical production.
Our goal with this project is to fill the gap between the traditional classroom or “e-training” methods of console learning, and actually sitting behind an Eos desk in a theatre. Maybe you know where the buttons are and what they do but want to know more about how they are used in context. Or maybe you just want to work on your muscle memory. This is a console flight simulator to help with both. If you wish, you can type along with Ken’s instruction, or, if you’d prefer a more passive experience, simply eavesdrop (you may want to begin listening to episode 12 when it gets really lively!).
This series features esteemed Broadway lighting designer Ken Billington and a lightly curated recording of the headset conversations during tech of the New York City Center Encores’ Me and My Girl in May of 2018. The recordings are broken into 13 episodes, which start as Ken begins putting cues into the console and end after the dress rehearsal—which for Encores, is about 90 percent of the lighting time allowed.
New York City Center generously allowed us to witness the perfect case study for lighting in theatre—a frenzied week-long blitz to put on a full musical. The first 11 episodes are dry tech and tech rehearsals. We’ve provided a show file for each episode, if you’re starting at the beginning you only need the first, you’ll build from there. If you want to begin further along, use the file to match your starting point. The last two episodes are recordings of the dress rehearsal (somewhat combined with tech). If you’re typing along, this gets a bit more intense. It’s also where we realized that the recordings are pretty entertaining in their own right—Nancy Pittelman and her stage management team and Ken and his lighting team are true masters in their kitchens!
While the process is always fast-paced, Encores is especially condensed (as Ken mentions in his introduction to the series). It is the musical theatre equivalent of a competition cooking show… here are your ingredients, you have 8 hours…GO!
We hope you find the series both entertaining and educational—and that you come back for more installments in the future!
Many thanks to Ken Billington, the whole crew, and Encores! for letting us in on the magic.