MDG was happy to see the students of London’s premier drama school, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), taking full advantage of the capabilities of one of its ATMe haze generators during their recent production of Rona Munro’s Scuttlers.
“The brief from the director, Hannah Eidinow, was to create the atmosphere of Manchester in the 1890s: hot, industrial, sweaty, dirty, polluted and foggy, so clearly we needed to use a hazer that was up to the job,” says guest lighting designer, Declan Randall. “And MDG’s ATMe haze generator was more than up to the task.”
Scuttlers was first performed at Manchester’s iconic Royal Exchange Theatre in 2015. It follows the exploits of the city’s first street gangs, set against the background of Manchester’s cotton mills and industrial expansion of the nineteenth century, when the rapidly expanding population, migrating from the surrounding rural communities in search of work, discovered that urban life was not all that they expected. Ruthless exploitation by mill and factory owners, social deprivation and political unrest were to follow.
The recent production at RADA moved the setting from the 200+ seat theatre-in-the-round of Manchester’s Royal Exchange to the very intimate, brick-lined environment of RADA’s 70-seater GBS Theatre. “With such a small space we needed to have total control of the haze produced by the machine,” continues Randall. “The production called for a continual level of atmospheric haze but also included moments when a little more or a little less was required to for dramatic effect. In such a tight space, where the audience is so close to the stage and the action, it can be only too easy to get it wrong. Using the ATMe’s DMX control, we were able to drive the haze levels precisely throughout the show using a fader to pump it up and, conversely, drop it back down as and when required.”
The ATMe ran all the way through the show to give a constant base level of haze, interspersed by moments when it was boosted it for some of the bigger, industrial choreography. “I was impressed with how quickly it filled the space,” continues Randall. “With some hazers, you need to have them running for some time to produce a decent amount of haze, but for Scuttlers we turned on the ATMe around the five minute call, and by curtain up we had a good level of haze with an excellent hang time.”
Randall was a guest lighting designer for Scuttlers at RADA’s invitation and his choice of fixtures allowed students to have access and experience of some of the premier products on the market today. “It is very important that students are given access to the best possible technology right from the start, mirroring the experiences they will have out in the industry after graduating” says RADA’s Head of Lighting, Matt Leventhall. “The sponsorship of MDG allows students to become familiar with top quality haze machines and the fantastic results they can help to achieve. We’ve used the ATMe on a several shows now and are exceedingly happy with it. It is economical in its use of fluid and practically silent. I anticipate it will be used on many productions going forward.”
“We are very proud to sponsor RADA in our capacity at MDG,” says MDG CEO Martin Michaud. “RADA is one of the oldest and most influential drama schools in the UK with an international reputation for excellence. We are very happy to contribute to the great work that they do by supplying them with one of our latest models of haze generator.”
Randall’s endorsement of MDG’s ATMe haze generator is unequivocal: “This is a rock solid machine: you turn it on and it does its thing. Job done.”