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Oxford University Theatre Technicians and Designers

Jacqueline du Pré Music Building

Theatre Jacqueline du Pré Music Building
Location St Hilda's College, Cowley Place, Oxford OX4 1DY
Capacity  200 (160 stalls, 40 balcony)
Hire charge Usually free for St Hilda’s student to book.
Contact the JdP manager (Joel Baldwin, [email protected]) for details.
Specifications Auditorium
Electroacoustic Studio

General

The Edward Boyle Auditorium, the largest room in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, is a purpose-built concert hall with an acoustic designed for the performance of chamber music. It is also an interesting and suitably equipped space for drama performance, and is primarily used as such by the St Hilda’s College Drama Society. As well as hosting its own professional recital series and student concerts, the venue has in recent years also been used for the performance of experimental music theatre. It is also used as a conference space by the college. There is no ‘standard’ schedule for drama productions; the space is heavily used for music events, and hence nightly runs of productions must be booked well in advance and runs may have to be broken up by concerts and other one-off events.

Stage

The Auditorium is at ground level and access is through several sets of double doors. The end-on stage is 10.9m wide, 4m deep and is raised by 80cm. The only step access to the stage is on Downstage Right. There is a hydraulic lift (SWL 600kg) on Stage Left. The stalls seating arrangement is flexible, and created with rows of interlocking chairs. The nominal capacity in the stalls is 160. A first floor balcony, accessible through a single door, runs around the rear three sides of the room and seats 40. The balcony, stage and floor are light coloured wood and the walls are exposed, yellow brick.

Two acoustic baffles, acting as bass traps, are screwed into the stage in the corners of the room. These are exceptionally heavy and difficult to move, and so should remain in place unless dispensation to move them is given by the JdP manager. The Yamaha U3 upright piano kept behind the SR baffle can be taken off-stage using the stage lift. The Steinway D grand piano cannot be removed from the stage, and every precaution must be taken to avoid damage to it. The Steinway should not be wheeled onto the stage lift.

By arrangement with the College lodge, vehicles can drive up to the conservatory doors of the building for loading/unloading. The College owns a 10-rung Zarges A-frame ladder. Permission to use this must be sought from the Buildings Manager.

Lighting

•    Zero88 Jester ML24 (flightcased, in Projection Room)
•    Anytronics Anyscene preset DMX controller
•    6 x LEDJ (Prolight Concepts) Pro Xterior 24 Quad (RGBW LED wash lights)
•    12 x LEDJ (Prolight Concepts) Pro Xterior 60 CW/WW (white LED wash lights)
•    3 x Showtec Indigo 5500 (moving head spots)
•    2 x Showtec Wireless DMX Transceiver (kept in Projection Room)

The current lighting setup consists of a fixed rig of LED wash units and intelligent fixtures, mounted to black truss. A double light switche in the Projection Room controls power to the grid. The default state is for the ‘Main Grid’ switch to be left on and the ‘Moving Heads’ switched off (their fans are unacceptably noisy for acoustic concerts).

There are also a number of unrigged conventional fixtures (6 x Source Four PAR, 4 x CCT Minuette zoom profiles, 3 x CCT Minuette fresnels) from the venue’s previous lighting installation. These are no longer maintained, and there is no provision for rigging or dimming them. Six 13a sockets are available on the balcony. 13a non-dim sockets are found on an IWB running around the grid. DMX sockets are located in the Projection Room, on Stage Right, and on the back wall of the balcony.

The Anyscene panel controller has a number of pre-set wash lighting states intended for concerts and conferences. Connecting the Jester will over-ride the Anyscene states.

There is a translucent glass ceiling at the apex of the roof. Hence, a full blackout cannot be achieved during daylight hours.

Sound

•    Soundcraft GB8 24-channel analogue mixer (kept in Studio)
•    Alesis Multimix 12R rack mixer (in grey cabinet at back of hall)
•    2 x Genelec 8050A (kept in Studio)
•    4 x Genelec 8030B (wall-mounted)
•    8 x Genelec 8020A (kept in Studio)
•    1 x Genelec 7050B subwoofer
•    2 x AKG C451 condenser microphones
•    3 x Behringer dynamic microphones
•    2 x Sennheiser XSW12 E wireless microphones (lavalier)
•    2 x Audio Technica ATW702 wireless microphones (1 handheld, 1 lavalier)
•    1 x TASCAM HD-P2 location audio recorder (kept in locker)
•    Tecpro comms system
o    2 x LS331 master stations in Studio and Hall
o    1 x remote station kept in Studio
o    Amplifier in grey cabinet
•    Apple Mac Pro with MOTU 24io PCI audio interface (in rack case in Studio)

The venue is very well equipped for sound, and complex designs including spatialised multi-channel audio can be realised. A wall-mounted stage box on Stage Right provides 20 XLR sends and 2 returns to/from the building’s recording and electroacoustic composition Studio. This stage box also has 8 XLR sends to the Alesis Multimix mixer in the grey rack at the back of the Hall, and the mixer’s two master outputs appear on TRS jacks, which are typically left connected to the 4 wall-mounted Genelec speakers. Finally, there is an XLR patching point for the Comms ring. On the front edge at Stage Right is a panel for stereo phono inputs to the Alesis mixer; two further Alesis mixer outputs are provided through floor-mounted XLR sockets DSR and DSL, intended for straightforward patching of the Genelec 8050 speakers.

There are two power switches to the grey main sound rack: one is on the side of the cabinet, the other on the wall about ¾ of the way back in the SR stalls – both must be switched on in order to power the rack. The black wall rack on the opposite side of the back wall contains a hearing loop amplifier which should be left as-is.

Not all audio equipment is included in the Auditorium’s hire spec, but use can be authorized by the Director of College Music and arranged through the JdP manager on an ad-hoc basis. Use of the Studio equipment (including the Soundcraft console), unless associated with a commercial hire of the venue, is usually restricted to Hilda’s students who have undertaken an induction session, which can be arranged by the JdP manager.

Projection

•    Sanyo PLC XF70
•    Wall-mounted motorised roll-down screen

There is a VGA patch point for the projector on the Stage Right edge. Given the venerable age of the projector, it would be unwise to move it from the Projection Room. Some manual focusing of the image will usually be necessary, as the ledge on which it sits tends to knock the VGA connector out of its socket(!)

Overall

The JdP, although not designed as a multi-purpose space, is well suited to drama, and especially experimental or basic music-theatre work. Its particular strength lies in its comprehensive audio facilities, commensurate with its status as a centre for contemporary and experimental music. The available lighting, including movers, allow a certain amount of flexibility for straightforward plots and special effects. The limitations of the stage construction (with the only step access on SR and no masking available) must be overcome through creative staging, design and blocking.

JP 08/05/14