Lighting at WSU Theatres Gets Much-Needed Upgrade

Guest blog from Jon Weaver, 3rd year lighting designer.

During these hard economical times we have all learned to try to make what we have last a little bit longer. This has not resounded more truly than in the lighting department of the theatres here at Wayne State University. Before the economical crash in 2008 the lighting system for the theatre was badly in need of an upgrade. After being told to deal with what we have until the economy improves, year after year we hunkered down and made it work. Three years later our equipment had become even more obsolete.

This all changed this year. The Hilberry and Bonstelle theatres received a nearly $200,000 upgrade toward new control systems for the theatres. This money purchased two new state of the art, light boards and two new sound systems. Also the Bonstelle Theatre received a $250,000 electrical upgrade. The Studio theatre is now outfitted with all new LED lighting.

For those of you who understand the equipment we now have an ETC Eos at the Hilberry and an ETC Ion at the Bonstelle. For those of you who don’t know the equipment (most of you) I wish to stress that this technology is only three years old and is being used to run the largest shows on Broadway right now.

Wayne State Theatre’s lighting students all received personal training from the developers of the technology about all of its new features.

To give a quick example of the upgrades, we went from saving on 3 ½” floppy disks (remember those) to running Windows 7 and being able to control the lights via an ipad. Lets just say it is cool.

I am in my third year at the Hilberry Company. Right before I came to Detroit I was living in New York and saw one of the first systems of this kind installed in a theatre.  I can speak from experience that students graduating from our program will have a huge leg up on other programs where older technology is being used.

I wish to thank the University for seeing that even though money is tight, it is important to continue to have students in our program working with the cutting edge of technology.  I look forward to continue to teach the best technology in the industry to our future technicians and designers.

-Jon Weaver

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