punQtum Powers Communications at Birmingham Royal Ballet
Birmingham, UK, June 2023 – Based at the historic Birmingham Hippodrome, the Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) is one of five major ballet companies in the United Kingdom. Known for its intensive touring schedule, the company required a reliable communication solution that could be easily deployed in a variety of venues. The solution came in the form of an innovative punQtum and Riedel solution, specified by UK distributor Autograph.
Prior to the upgrade, the production team was using a two-stage system, composed of a one- or two-channel hard-wired system and a Motorola radio system. “Depending on the venue, we often found that their hard-wired systems were far from being able to accommodate the size and complexity of our productions,” says Johnny Westall-Eyre, Technical Manager of Lighting/AV at Birmingham Royal Ballet. “That meant we had an in-house system we couldn’t rely on and that wasn’t maintained by us and our own Motorola system which only allowed for one person to speak at a time. It wasn’t ideal!”
Having decided to upgrade, Andrew Wilson, Head of Lighting & AV at Birmingham Royal Ballet, contacted Riedel Communications to learn about their solutions. “We were looking for a reliable, adaptable, and flexible solution that would minimize risks of interference across channels and enable shows to be run in a safer and more efficient manner,” he explains. “It needed to be future-proof, multi-channel, and easy to use, especially whilst the company is on tour across different venues.”
Riedel’s UK Sales Manager, Nacho Lee, put Birmingham Royal Ballet in touch with their integration partner, Autograph, who offered Wilson a unique solution combining Riedel’s wireless Boleros and punQtum’s digital wired solution, catering for both team members in fixed positions and those who need to move around during production.
When it came to onboarding the new system, punQtum’s digital wired party line was reserved for team members who maintain a stationary position throughout the production. This included key team members such as the Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Manager, who also benefit from the reliability of a wired communication system in case of signal drop-out. On the other hand, hard-to-reach positions, such as Follow Spot Operators, were assigned wireless Riedel Boleros due to cabling limitations.
On tour, the Birmingham Royal Ballet now has a system that is reliable and familiar to the crew. “The system we’ve built with Autograph means we simply roll the rack in, plug in some cables, and do a little testing before it’s ready to play,” confirms Scott Smith, Senior Lighting Technician at Birmingham Royal Ballet. During performances, there is no longer interference on the vital stage channel, a welcome relief for members of the Stage Management team.
The result is better communication backstage and improved performances on stage. More conversations can take place between key players in the team, leading to greater collaboration. On the success of this project, William Cottrell, Technical Sales Engineer at Autograph, explains, “Not only does this installation bring better communication, but it also allows Birmingham Royal Ballet to tour with confidence. They can plan their comms and enjoy a level of consistency from one venue to another.”