Sound of tomorrow for Stevenage’s Gordon Craig Theatre after £91,000 upgrade

Dave Nott, at the sound desk at Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage

Dave Nott, at the sound desk at Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage - Credit: Archant

Backstage crew at the Gordon Craig Theatre have completed a £91,000 sound system upgrade – and chief technician Dave Nott says it’s their biggest step up for years.

Gordon Craig Theatre Crew, Joe Leggett, Ashley Chappell, Katie Ducarreaux, Dave Nott and Al Rivers

Gordon Craig Theatre Crew, Joe Leggett, Ashley Chappell, Katie Ducarreaux, Dave Nott and Al Rivers - Credit: Archant

“A lot more goes on than people think,” said Dave, who is 31 and from Hitchin. “It’s a big overhaul. The bulk of the old system, speakers, amplifiers and cabling, was 15 to 20 years old.

“The install took five of us around two weeks to complete. We have run almost 3km of Cat5e computer cable, wired almost 100 Cat5 sockets, and then also run hundreds of metres of new power and speaker cable.”

Dave’s crew now have a state-of-the-art, all-digital set-up, and two sound desks to work with rather than one.

“The sound desks are the latest Yamaha has to offer. We had a digital desk before, which was great, but everything else was analogue. There was a lot of changing around,” said Dave.

“Now we can do everything in the desks, without racks of equipment clogging up the front of house area, making everything untidy.”

The first show to use the new system was the in-house production of Sister Act, which ran for 10 days in August.

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“We have had some very good reports from audiences, musicians, industry professionals and so on about how good the new system sounds, how clear vocals are, and how even the coverage is over the room,” said Dave.

“We can do surround-sound effects now that we would never have done before. You can actually fly things over people’s heads, all that sort of stuff.”

Dave has been doing technical theatre work since his school days, and has been chief technician at the Gordon Craig for six years.

He and his team have wired up access points throughout the theatre so they can plug any piece of equipment in anywhere.

Another improvement is a backup output – an exact copy of the main one that takes over instantly if there is a problem.

Dave explains: “With the old system, if a multicore cable got damaged we would lose the audio send. Now no audio is lost. You cannot tell when the system switches to the secondary line.

“It’s very computer-based now. You almost need a degree in computer science, especially with the networking side.

“Now, because it is a lot more efficient and easier in some respects, you then end up doing more, you counteract yourself. But that’s good because it means the audience gets a better experience.”

For more details on upcoming shows at the Gordon Craig, see www.gordon-craig.co.uk.

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