A German Life

  • Photo Credit: Helen Maybanks


Absolute will be providing the automation equipment for A German Life at The Bridge Theatre. This new play by Christopher Hampton is from the life and testimony of Brunhilde Pomsel (1911- 2017). Maggie Smith, returning to the stage for the first time in twelve years, plays Brunhilde Pomsel.

Brunhilde Pomsel’s life spanned the twentieth century. She struggled to make ends meet as a secretary in Berlin during the 1930s, her many employers including a Jewish insurance broker, the German Broadcasting Corporation and, eventually, Joseph Goebbels.

Over the course of the evening the set moves continuously and almost imperceptibly, taking one and three-quarter hours to reach it’s final position. The play is staged in a kitchen set, formed by four trucks which move diagonally off-stage. As they move off-stage, slowly gaps appear in the walls as they move apart. In addition to the four trucks, a large floor pallet moves downstage, carrying with it the star of the show.

Because of the constantly moving set, the lighting and scenery need to be synchronised precisely to ensure that the performer and the set are perfectly lit over the course of the long running cues. As an example, the floor pallet moves at only half a millimetre per second throughout the duration of the evening. The moving lights automatically track the performer and the moving set. All kinds of moving light attributes can be controlled using this system. As an example, when the walls move offstage not only do the lights pan and tilt, to keep them lit, but the shutters also adjust to keep them perfectly framed throughout the move.

This precise synchronisation is achieved using LightStrike, a piece of software running on a Macintosh, that enables scenery tracking for OSC/UDP enabled consoles and sACN controlled rigs. Absolute continually transmit the current position of the scenery, over the open protocol PosiStageNet. The LightStrike software then takes that position and translates it for the lighting desk, so that moving lights can track that scenery precisely.

Absolute Motion Control are always excited when they are able to collaborate closely with other technical departments, especially when those collaborations result in exciting possibilities, which can really make a difference in delivering an incredible performance. There is simply no way that the lighting in this production could have been achieved accurately using only traditional cue points and long running lighting cues.

Being able to work closely with Daniel Murfin, the developer of LightStrike, Absolute were able to ensure that they could deliver a solution for The Bridge Theatre that works seamlessly with his software. PosiStageNet is supported by several other industry leading providers, so Absolute’s tracking plug-in already works with a large number of lighting desks and media servers.

The production, directed by Jonathan Kent, begins previews on 6 April 2019 with the opening night on Friday 12 April. Design is by Anna Fleischle, lighting by Jon Clark with sound by Paul Groothuis.

More information is available, and you can book tickets, on The Bridge Theatre’s website.

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