Preparing the Grand Théâtre for the next season
(CS) While the doors of the Grand Théâtre are closed during the summer, there is lots going on behind the scenes as the City-centre venue prepares for the upcoming season. Wort.lu/en took a backstage tour.
At the City of Luxembourg's theatres, Helmuth Forster during the summer oversees the maintenance of stage mechnanics, a job that takes several weeks to complete with all elements, from the revolving stage to cables, lights and audio equipment, checked.
Security protocol is very strict, Forster explained to wort.lu/en, as actors and stage crew have to rely on everything being safe and sound, from lighting rigs to stage systems.
The Grand Théâtre's stage counts five elevating platforms, which can be raised above or lowered below stage level by 3.5 metres. Two large platforms can carry up to 15 tonnes, while the three smaller platforms can carry up to 10 tonnes. Large water canisters holding up to 1,000 litres of water each are used for the testing of brakes and machinery.
The same technique is used to test the revolving stage, which sits on a mobile floor measuring 210 square metres, allowing it to be moved from the backstage area to the front. This can carry up to 40 tonnes in weight.
Stage mechanics, the electronics of the system and computer programming are checked, with eight specialists from the Austrian company Waagner-Biro, which built the stage system, on site to carry out the works, with additional experts from a Luxembourg-based computing company at the theatre.
Forster himself used to work for Waagner-Biro in Austria before taking on his job at the Luxembourg City theatres.
Lights, cables, lifts and pulleys
In addition to the stage, the lighting rigs also need to be checked with hundreds of metres of cables, allowing the rigs to be dropped from a height of 24 metres to stage level, screened for faults.
Lights, speakers or pieces of set can be attached to the rods, the strongest of which can carry up to a tonne of weight.
Hundreds of lights are also checked individually, with each one fitted with a bar code on which maintenance information is stored. For every one, the date of the check and the person who carried it out can thus be traced.
Every cable will pass through the hands of a stage technician during the annual maintenance procedure that keeps the theatre busy throughout the summer.
Once stage maintenance works are complete, the stage is repainted. It is crafted from Oregon pine, a very resistant type of wood. With around a thousand holes drilled into the floor every season to attach pieces of set, the wood contracts when screws are removed and the holes more or less disappear.
Stage lifts, pulleys, fire prevention – the maintenance check list is long. In addition to the Grand Théâtre, the same works are carried out at Théâtre des Capucins, the City's smaller theatre.
At the theatre's workshop in Hollerich meanwhile set construction for the upcoming season begins during the summer, with rehearsals starting in early September, the month marking the beginning of the new season.
To see what the Luxembourg City theatres have in store for the 2015/16 season visit theatres.lu