ARRI’s SkyPanels illuminate “Medea” at the Burgtheater in Vienna

At Vienna’s Burgtheater, 20 SkyPanels S60-C from ARRI are currently providing perfect stage lighting for Simon Stone’s production of “Medea.”

Feb. 14, 2019

On film sets, in TV, and at photo studios, ARRI SkyPanels have long been established as a high-quality light source. But the qualities of the multifunctional LED soft lights are also increasingly appreciated in theaters. In Vienna’s renowned Burgtheater, one of Europe’s most important theatres with around 1,200 seats, 20 SkyPanels S60-C are currently lighting Simon Stone’s celebrated “Medea” production.

The Australian-Swiss director sets his retelling of Greek poet Euripides’s two and a half thousand year-old tragedy about a murderous, revengeful woman in the present day. For this reason, he dispenses with antique decoration and instead relies on a minimalist stage set entirely in white. The white floor merges, via alcoves, into white walls. Against this background, the actors, the black ashes, and the artificial blood at the finale come dramatically into play. At the same time, these plain surfaces serve as screens for projections.

“This production has already been staged in Amsterdam. Therefore, there were clear ideas about the aesthetics and effect of light,” explains Friedrich Rom, Head of Lighting at the Burg- and Akademietheater in Vienna. “The room was to appear endless. Shadow-free, bright light was required,” he explains. For this design challenge, Friedrich Rom “found the ideal solution weeks in advance:” SkyPanels from ARRI.

Together with the Austrian dealer LB-electronics and in close cooperation with ARRI, extensive tests of every model in the SkyPanel series followed. The Burgtheater team was thrilled, confirms Friedrich Rom: “The devices were convincing in the white as well as in the colored area and a product that offers fully tunable color temperature from 2,800 to 10,000 K is difficult to find. The color scheme is unique. Gradual color gradients are just as standard as a total blackout without any afterglow. The SkyPanel range is rounded off with a host of accessories.”

Finally, the SkyPanel S60-C was chosen and a total of 20 panels were rigged to the fly bars. “The flexible use is of great importance for our theater. In repertoire mode, the positions of the lamps used must be variable. The S60-C was an excellent choice for that,” explains the lighting expert the decision. He continues: “These luminaires can therefore not only be used for one production. They can also be used as horizon lighting from the ground or in a hangar. And with the right accessories, an asymmetrical horizon floodlight can be produced in no time at all.”

With “Medea,” Friedrich Rom learned to appreciate ARRI’s SkyPanel as a “versatile surface luminaire.” His conclusion: “It is an enhancement to our equipment. We are pleased to be able to use this versatile luminaire as often as possible.” After its premiere in Vienna, the SkyPanel obviously has a long career ahead of it at the Burgtheater.

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Photos: Georg Soulek/Burgtheater (1, 2), ARRI (3, 4, 5)