© Pamela Raith Photography

Ayrton Perseo Profiles are Ben Cracknell’s workhorse fixtures for the Olivier Awards 2024

The Olivier Awards 2024 took place on Sunday 14 April 2024 at the Royal Albert Hall, from where it was broadcast by ITV1, and streamed internationally on YouTube and by BritBox. It was presented by Emmy winner and multi-Olivier nominee Hannah Waddingham who opened the show, accompanied by the London Community Gospel Choir, with a powerhouse jazz performance of Anything Goes


Established in 1976, the Olivier Awards celebrate the world-class status of London theatre, and are Britain’s most prestigious stage honours. The three-hour long Awards show was interspersed with performances from the casts of West End musical theatre including Hadestown, Sunset Boulevard, Operation Mincemeat, and Guys and Dolls.


Lighting designer Ben Cracknell, lighting the Olivier Awards for his 11th year, chose 78 Ayrton Perseo Profile fixtures, provided by White Light, as his work horse fixtures. He wanted to modernise and unify under one fixture type his previously mixed rig, so he took advantage of White Light’s generous stock of Perseo Profiles, having enjoyed using them on previous designs.


These he predominantly used for key lighting on the performers and audience, rigging some overhead for back lighting performers and creating stage washes, with more rigged in front-of-house positions in the Gallery at a distance of 40m+ from the stage, and around the Circle rail and on custom shelves that clip onto the RAH box fronts, to provide front and side key light positions to the stage. 


“It was wonderful to have such colour consistency across the rig from the one fixture type,” says Cracknell. “It meant that once we had created balanced colours for camera across the rig, we could simply replicate it in all the Perseos and not go through the same procedure across different fixture types - a great time saving benefit which was very welcome in the tight schedule. The Perseos are really punchy too and held their own all the way from the Gallery to the stage. We never felt like we were running out of light.”


Whilst the Olivier Awards are broadcast, Cracknell was very keen to maintain a theatrical aesthetic, keeping the performance lighting sculptural and dynamic, and lighting performances like that from Hadestown in a very theatrical way. “The Perseos as side lights from the shelf positions were really instrumental in creating that look,” he comments.


The Perseo Profile shutters also played an invaluable part enabling Cracknell to create zones easily around the auditorium or focus on lighting the entrance ways to the aisles during the winners’ walk ups. “We were also able to introduce gobos in the overheads to break up texture on people on stage and in the audience, and make full use of the colour mixing and CTO,” he says.


“I didn’t want the show to appear cold for the live audience so rather than balance cameras to daylight we brought the colour temperature back to nearer the tungsten zone to make it feel more pleasant. The CTO allowed us to balance a 6500K fixture at 4300K, yet because the Perseos have a really good output, even when adding the CTO, we still had plenty of intensity left. Having a fixture with plenty of punch means you can use what colour correction filters you like and still have enough punch left to deliver the brightness you need.


Perseo has another quality which Cracknell points out is often underrated: “Perseo Profile is not only consistent and punchy, it’s reliable. Reliability is a very important consideration on shows with such tight time constraints. For the Olivier Awards we began fit up in the early hours of Friday morning and went live on Sunday evening – with 11 performances and an awards show to rehearse in that time, so there was a lot of time pressure. At times like that you need to be able to rely on the equipment not to let you down so you can just keep on working. That’s when you can get to enjoy the creative side of it all.”


Cracknell’s design was subsequently nominated for a Profile Award, the new awards organised by Durham and Jennie Marenghi, in which White Light also sponsored the Lighting Design Award. “It was all because of the Perseos!” laughs Cracknell.


Lighting Team Credits:

Lighting Designer / Director: Ben Cracknell

Assistant Lighting Design: Charlotte Burton

Lighting Programmer: Alex Passmore

Gaffer: Cy Dodimead


More details on Ayrton Perseo Profile, and the full range of Ayrton LED and laser-sourced lighting fixtures can be found at www.ayrton.eu 


Ayrton is distributed exclusively in the UK by Ambersphere Solutions www.ambersphere.com