Design Issues and Solutions Need advice: Small tour using local venue lighting systems


I’m designing the lighting for a tour of a one-man show. To explain it bluntly would be to call it a glorified Powerpoint presentation—elements include a rear projection screen, a lectern and a table with some props, all set against black. The show is going to travel with a laptop running QLab with the projection and sound cues (which are extensive).

The lighting for the show is simple but specific. There are 3 acting areas, pipe-end sidelight, 3 colors of backlight, a few overhead specials and some floor units with templates. My “generic” plot has around 60 units, requesting an FOH position that can deliver good front light without washing the screen and two overhead electrics to provide the sidelight and backlight respectively. Focusing this in under 3 hours from a flat deck should be easy.

The show is meant to do a performance with the load-in that same morning, so tech time is minimal and they want to keep the touring “crew” down to a single stage manager who has focusing skills. The producer has articulated their desire to present a clean show that is distinctly theatrical and won’t be confused with a lecture. It’s a difficult situation.

My questions involve the best approach for implementing the lighting design to the greatest possible extent, touring the lighting control and dealing with the variability of the local lighting systems. The lighting systems described in our preliminary list of venues vary from good theatrical rep plots to other systems more catered to live music (moving lights, long rows of PARs, followspots, etc.). Typically these are 500-seat venues or smaller.

Options and topics for discussion:
- Use the house console and build up a library of show disks for all likely consoles the tour will encounter.
- Travel with an EOS Nomad system to run from a laptop; adjust the soft patch onsite and basically take control of the venue’s lighting system via DMX.
- Distribute a document calling out our minimum requirements in a generic sense, and solicit the assistance of each local lighting supervisor or electrician to satisfy these requests and somehow run the show from submasters on the fly (difficult when running sound and projection cues at the same time)

Our show’s rider calls out the need to discuss union issues and hash out who pushes the space bar(s) during the show to trigger cues.

I’d appreciate any advice from folks who’ve toured small shows, and from people who work at venues that host them.



Well-Known Member
Further questions - What is the worst possible house you might play in? Express like console? No side positions? 'Sound Guy' light board operator?

Their board = their operator. From my (limited) touring experience you can probably rely on their operator whichever board you use, and it sounds as though you need the fingers.

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