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An Iliad | Long Wharf Theatre


‘The Iliad’ is an epic piece of classical poetry and has been transformed for the theater in ‘An Iliad’; earlier this year, it was presented by the Long Wharf Theatre. The Director was Whitney White, with Lighting Design by Kate McGee. “’An Iliad,’ from its conception to its present incarnation at Long Wharf, is designed to overcome every objection on which theatergoers indifferent to Homeric Greek rely when confronted with such classics. As evident in Long Wharf’s superb production, ‘An Iliad’ is as relevant and timely as the blood in your veins,” notes E. Kyle Minor of the New Haven Register.

For the production, Lighting Supervisor James Horban needed a wireless solution. He explains: “For ‘An Iliad’, we needed an effect that appeared as though a fire was lit and huddled around by the poet. From the Director’s perspective, it was a rather spiritual moment for the poet, and we went the route of lighting a Palo Santo incense stick, which then mimicked lighting a larger fire and gave off the desired smokiness. I knew that we needed a potential high-output solution due to the rock-and-roll lighting design, and I wanted to investigate a solution that gave more flexibility and options than strictly an incandescent source. A wireless solution was needed as the firepot was pulled out of a trapdoor by the poet.”

For his wireless firepot, Horban turned to RC4 Wireless, a brand he’s depended on for the past decade. “Firelight is probably some of the earliest uses of RC4, and it has changed drastically with the advent of LEDs. Our most-recent rendition mixed 3-chip RGB modules around the perimeter with some warm white tape focused in the center, driven by two RC4 DMX2dim’s. The result was the ability to program an effect with a visually red/amber edge around the firepot with a crisper tone in the center when leaned over by the actress. We used two [RC4Magic] DMX2dim units to provide 4-channels of RGBWW LED control, and recycled the sources from the infamous ‘LED scraps bin’” says Horban.

The RC4 Commander control software has also been an integral part of RC4’s usage at Long Wharf Theatre. Horban continues: “Our current show is using 8x DMX2dim RC4 units, and the show prep led me to standardize the addresses of all of our DMX devices in the department; in the past, we had one RC4 at 511, another 444, trying to use easy-to-remember ones here-and-there. It was very disorganized and dysfunctional, to say the least. So I spent the summer playing around with the RC4 Commander to standardize all of the settings across the devices and fixing one that had incorrect ID settings and wouldn’t connect. I like seeing all of the options laid out and presented in the format that RC4 Commander does.”

Like many, Horban has had to contact the RC4 support team; he chose the email route. “Customer support from RC4 was VERY quick, immediate, and solution-focused. One of our RC4 units was missing screws and bam! I had replacements with a complimentary baby screwdriver, which ALWAYS disappear. I needed our ID file for RC4 Commander and had it in my inbox in moments. In terms of customer service, I have only positive things to say!” he notes.

As for people who have not ventured into the world of RC4 Wireless, Horban concludes: “Whatever wireless solution you need, they can provide it. It can be an intimidating realm to enter into, both technologically and expense. We’ve been putting our RC4 units through hell and high water* for years, and they’re still going strong. It seems every show in our season has had some reason to need a wireless solution in some form, and I love the flexibility as one unit can drive 9v candle FX, 12v table lamp, or 24v led solution.”

* this comment is referencing metaphorical high water; although RC4 Wireless does have the best warranty in the industry, it does not cover actual high water or damage from other natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis or wildfires.