Lighting Designer Mathieu Poirier created the atmosphere of the grand hotels of the past for "Hotel," the latest touring show for Montreal-based company Cirque Eloize. Poirier selected Claypaky's new Axcor Spot 300 moving LED fixtures to help set the scene for the troupe's very special 25th anniversary production.
In "Hotel" acrobatics, theater, dance, and live music guide the audience through an intimate refuge with an avant-garde look inspired by the elegance of the greatest hotels. The lives of transient travelers intersect briefly but long enough for tales and memories to be forged.
"Early in the creative process the Belgium-based director, Emmanuel Guillaume, discussed with the creative team his strong visual interest in Wes Anderson's film, Grand Budapest Hotel and Damien Chazelle's La La Land," said Poirier. "The visual environment of 'Hotel' would have those brownish and pinkish shades as well as surreal and very contrasty colors. The decision was taken to have a burgundy set with gold accents and monochromatic costumes in all shades of blue. I decided to adapt a principle that Chazelle used in his movie, and I created a lighting plot that would allow me to be realistic in the hotel's lobby and kind of surreal, or at least to leave the realism of the hotel lobby, for the acrobatic acts themselves."
He chose 10 Axcor Spot 300s to hang above the stage as front special, tip, and back lights. The Axcor Spot 300 has 17 gobos on two wheels, including seven high-quality dichroic rotating gobos. Weighing just 20 kg and measuring a little over 500 mm, the unit incorporates features that are not often found in models of this size, like a rotating prism, a motorized iris, a soft-edge filter, a 16-bit dimmer, and a 8-40° zoom. ACT Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor of Claypaky fixtures in North America.
"We had a limited budget for buying equipment as well as a really small transportation limitation, so I needed to find fixtures that were small and yet had a beautiful light quality," said Poirier. "I wanted to use the moving lights in light shades to complete the basic saturated wash. The Axcor Spot 300s were the perfect match for that - and they fit in the truck!"
Poirier said that the emergence of LED fixtures for touring shows has been a big advantage. "The biggest improvement is the LED source. Touring technicians don't wake up worrying about the bulb hours. And the power consumption is significantly lower.
"One aspect of the fixtures in this show that I didn't even think about is the sound level. In 'Hotel' there is a lot of silence, and regular movers with loud fans could have been a problem. These lights are impressively quiet. Enough to never have a sound designer complain about them!"
Poirier said that "we are able to see the light quality of the fixtures" and how they enhance the show. "The optics of the Axcor Spot 300s are really beautiful; I cannot think of another product in that price range with such a 'serious' optical quality. The color mix is also really good; I was able to do all the subtle pastels I needed with a superb and even color mix."
Poirier said the support from ACT Lighting was "excellent in every respect from demo to delivery. Then, as soon as we fired the fixture, we never needed support. The lights worked, period!"
Judith Rémillard is lighting director for the tour of "Hotel."