Hasland Theatre Company

Epson takes centre stage at Hasland Theatre Company

Hasland Theatre Company

Hasland Theatre Company, in Chesterfield, isn’t your average amateur theatre society. For a start, it’s been around since 1944 and has its own dedicated 100 seat theatre. The group performs around 5 plays per season (September to May) and has earned a reputation in the local area for pushing the boundaries in what they do on stage.

After a recent production of “On the Shore of the Wide World”, a modern play written by Simon Stephens of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime” fame, a local newspaper described Hasland as a “bold company which takes an audience out of its comfort zone”.  The paper also praised the group’s “powerful acting” and “skilful direction.”

Tom Bannister, technical director at Hasland Theatre Company explains: “We are always looking for new ways to engage with our audiences and like to offer them something different to keep our performances fresh and exciting.”   The theatre company strives to produce a variety of different plays, catering for different tastes, from across all eras and styles, but often found they were limited by what traditional set design would allow them to do creatively.  “I wanted to find a way to do productions without any limitations, and not be restricted by a few simple scenes that were moveable and interchangeable.”

Today, many of the larger theatres in London and major travelling theatre groups are using projection technology enabling them to place digital backgrounds into their productions.  Tom explains: “This isn’t something that is often seen in amateur theatre but I’ve been really keen to introduce something similar into our company for quite some time.  I wanted to be able to offer a wider range of plays, using more complicated scenes and many different locations.  With projection, the only factor limiting what we could do would be our imaginations.”

Tom began to research available options and soon realised that the consumer offerings on the market weren’t capable of delivering the vision he had.  He consulted with Nottingham AV Services, a leading supplier of AV & Video solutions.  Established in 1967, NAV supply and install Audio Visual systems in education and corporate environments.  In addition to standard everyday projects their Systems Designers and AV Installation Team welcome the challenge of integrating some of the latest AV technology in bespoke or unusual scenarios.   The company has a team of highly skilled engineers, installers, technicians and support staff and is dedicated in delivering the very best levels of service available in the industry.  NAV worked together with Tom and suggested trialling two Epson EB-G6350 projectors installed with ELP-LU01 lenses.

These projectors feature very high brightness levels of 7,000 lumens and include Epson’s 3LCD technology to ensure that vivid colours are faithfully reproduced, while content can be shown in a variety of ambient light levels, thanks to equally high White and Colour Light Outputs.  The projectors’ edge blending capabilities make it easy to use multi-screen projection to achieve a seamless panoramic projection, with seamless colour and no marks where the individual images join.  The lenses provide the ability to project “off axis” in a short throw, front projection environment.

“We are really impressed with the new projectors.  They have given our productions a new lease of life and we can now produce plays that were simply out of our reach previously,” says Tom.  Hasland Theatre Company can use a limitless amount of scenes and backdrops in their performances.  These can be of scenes that would have been impossible to recreate using traditional set methods.  The imagery is sourced using various photo libraries, royalty free online footage or images filmed by the team on HD cameras.  Using edge blending, the images are projected onto a huge 6m x 3m screen with dramatic effects.   In a recent production, the theatre group used moving imagery.  “We featured a couple getting on a train and we were able to show the scenery moving through the train window.  Another scene was on a motorway bridge so we displayed widescreen projection of a motorway and used scaffolding to recreate the bridge.”

One production that the company is featuring stipulates in the notes that a slide projector should be used to display images behind the actors.  “We are able to do justice to plays such as this and produce them in the way that the writer had originally intended,” says Tom.  “We can also use a mixture of digital and traditional sets to really capture the environment and atmosphere ,” he concludes.

The feedback received from members of the audience has been nothing but positive.  “The use of the projectors always goes down well!” says Tom.  In fact, a local newspaper article cited that the giant screen was one of the best things about a recent performance!

The addition of the new projectors has also delivered a commercial benefit to the theatre group.  The venue is sometimes hired out for other events.  A local band used the theatre for an album launch party and they were able to use the projectors to display different backgrounds during their set.

“We see the addition of these projectors as a huge advancement of the theatre.  We wanted to challenge ourselves and have the ability to put on new shows that we enjoy doing, and more importantly our audiences enjoy watching.  We’ve certainly achieved this thanks to NAV Installations and Epson,” says Tom