Wybron Enhances the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts

Conveying Mood and Atmosphere with Wybron CXI ITs

Kiss Me Kate
Photo courtesy of John Foster, Assoc. Lighting Designer.
Lighting Design by Emily Becher-McKeever, Scenic Design by Richard Finkelstein, Costume Design by LeVonne Lyndsey, Sound Design by Missy Ricci and Frank Brattanger, Directed by Kate Arecchi.

When configuring a lighting design for a performance space, designers have control over every color in the visible spectrum. With the use of color changers there is a greater range and ability to enhance the visual and emotional environment of the stage in a seamless, uninterrupted fashion.

The recently opened, Forbes Center for the Performing Arts at James Madison University, in Harrison, Virgina, is a 175,000 square-ft.-facility, housing the University’s Shirley Hanson Roberts Center for Music Performance and the Dorothy Thomasson Estes Center for Theater and Dance, which boasts five extraordinary performance venues. The new performing arts center included 75 Wybron CXI IT dual-gelstring scrolling color changers as part of the state-of-the art lighting system design for the Mainstage Theater (450 seats), Studio Theater (200 seats) and the Earlynn J. Miller Dance Theater (200 seats), all within the Dorothy Thomasson Estes Center for Theater and Dance.

According to Emily Becher-McGreever, Assistant Professor of Theater, Technical Direction and Lighting Design, one of the aspects of the program they are really proud of is they have always had a student space that is entirely student produced from the ground up. They print the tickets, do the publicity; act in it, design it; direct it; produce it; and of course, light it. They now have the opportunity to do this in a brand new building; it is an optimal training tool for the students. Emily has worked as a dance lighting designer for a very long time. One of the biggest pains she experienced early in her career while lighting dance performances in general was having to pause every 5 minutes in between each piece to change color in all the side light positions. She eventually had the opportunity to work with color changers and was sold. Unfortunately, she never worked with that large of a collection of color changers again, until now.

Emily shared, “When we first started talking with Theater Projects about the equipment we wanted for the performances spaces, one of the main things I was pretty keen on was to have those capabilities for the main stage and the dance performance spaces in particular.” In her opinion, having worked with various types of equipment and technology, the best colors that were out there came from the CXI ITs.

The 75 CXI ITs in the performance spaces at the Center for Theater and Dance are used in various ways: side lights in the dance performance spaces; backlight wash; and a way to change colors of scrim panels. In the Studio Theater, where performances are entirely created and performed by students, they are used to create color washes and in creating different moods and atmosphere. Emily feels that the best feature of the CXI ITs is the color match you can get based on the manufacturer’s specifications – like ROSCO or GAM. She has also had a better experience with them in terms of reliability and ease of use. “When working with a student crew, it’s important that they are able to understand, to do things like address fixtures and such,” said Emily. CXI ITs are inherently simple and simple machines are inherently reliable. These are qualities important to not only students of lighting but all lighting professionals in general.

Color and light have a powerful affect on human emotion and in turn, the experience of the viewer. For lighting designers, conveying mood and atmosphere is one of the most important aspects of lighting a performance. The CXI IT color changer offers a nearly limitless palette of colors, allowing lighting designers and operators, from students to seasoned professionals, the capacity to create custom shades and tweak colors on the fly with two overlapping CMY gelstrings. With CXI ITs, the ability to create custom shades, simplicity of use and reliability make it the perfect accessory for lighting performances with vibrant seamless, colored illumination that invokes the powerful moods within the audience that are essential to a successful performance.

About Wybron Inc. - For over 30 years, Wybron has been a market leader in lighting innovation, dedicated to creating, manufacturing and marketing products that advance the art of lighting. Wybron invests heavily in engineering, research and development to remain on the cutting-edge of entertainment, church and architectural lighting, providing solutions to stay ahead of the rapidly changing needs and demands of the industry.