Ahead of its opening performance, Sound & Stage headed to the dress rehearsal for Cirque le Noir, presented by Tape Events, to speak with the show’s technical director, David Simpson, about how the sultry circus spectacular is put together...
S&S: Does the show travel with its own set or is this supplied in-country for each venue?
DS: The show travels with its own set, stage and props. The stage concept is very simple so that the attention is on the artist. We travel via truck, sea and air cargo around the world.
S&S: What is the build-up time for the show? Are there any particular challenges or special considerations when constructing the stage and set?
DS: Safety is our primary concern with regards to the artist and audience. We take approximately two 10 -12 hour shifts to install the show and check all our aerial acrobatics and rigging for safety. That greatly depends on the local conditions — some parts of the world are much more challenging than others. Building conditions, engineering information, proper CAD plans and details from the local promoters is vital in the safe planning. Also, local crews vary greatly from place to place and we have to build in time to allow for their competency as well.
S&S: Have there been any adaptations made to the show/staging/lighting etc. between the Dubai and Abu Dhabi venues?
DS: The show technically is the same. What will be different is the positions of certain aerial acrobatics due to the differences in the venues. Dubai has only a 10 metre grid height and Abu Dhabi has 15 metres. We must make special concessions in our rigging plan to achieve the required heights to perform some of the acts in the show.
S&S: The show is known for its custom-built 360-degree stage — talk us through the thinking and construction behind this element...
DS: The stage and set are very simplistic and not large at all — the circular stage is only four metres. The idea was to be able to bring the audience in closer to really experience the act up close. It does influence where we play but, whether we are in theatres or arenas, we always try to maintain the intimate seating arrangement.
S&S: What safety precautions are in place during rehearsals and show time?
DS: We operate with safety standards using European guidelines and adapt to local regulations if they are more stringent. The artists are athletes performing extremely taxing acrobatics — we have had our share of athletic injuries, sprains, pulls and bruises but have had no failures in rigging or equipment that created a danger to the artists or the audience.
S&S: What local companies were involved in the Abu Dhabi and Dubai shows?
DS: We get all of our sound lighting video from local hire houses — SLS Production is providing the equipment and technicians for the install and operation of the show. We tour with department crew chiefs, riggers, techs, lighting designer, stage management, and rely on local support to fill in the gaps.