Power Outages


Well-Known Member
Well, this is the time of year for us to be getting severe thunderstorms, and we are. Last night, one moved through during the first act of the old people theater (as I've taken to calling it). During one song, the power flickers, not the big a deal, wait for the amps to reset themselves, and we're good to go, except that the spotlights went out, and need time to warm up again (think Mercury vapor lights), and it just so happens, they are the only lights used fo rthis particular number. So, five minutes later, everything goes out, and stays out for a few minutes. Someone goes out on stagge and yells that we're having technical difficulties (no kidding), but to wait, and the show will go on when the power comes back on. So, now instead of running sound, I'm running all over creation making sure everything is working (after the power goes back on) again, and nothing was damaged.

Also, unrelated to the weather, we had a light that we thought was burnt out. During intermission, I went and changed the bulb, told the guy at the board to try it, and, to my amusement, and concern for my safety, the light started sparking and popping. Hmm, not the bulb, so I cannabelized another lamp fixture and used it.

Any one else have stories along these lines?
I have a few actually.

They all happened on my last show, the Wizard of Oz at a local community theatre

1) we were using Digital Pre-Recorded music, it was all well and good until there was a power surge one night and fried the hard-drive. Luckily we had a backup hard drive ready...but, it took 5minutes to snap in. So during "munchgan land" with 25 little kids on stage, the SM tells me to keep it going..so i'm standing off SR and clapping the beat for everyone until finalyy he tells me to bring in the curtain, and right as i do they go for a dance break and cross DS of the curtain line, so i had to hold it for another minute until i convinced the SM to go to black an dlet me clear them and bring in the scrim, then had to make a "technical difficutlies speach" while having the SM yelling in my ear to "fix the dam problem"

2) Closing night the fog machine for the wizards chamber shortted out, and caused the entire backstage to lose power, including our motorized winch that was about to move. the smoke for the chamber, along with the Co2 controller. So i'm runnin garound backstage tryign to get back up. It was a tense 5minutes as i ran around backstage without anyone knowing somethign was wrong..just me running around like a chicken with my head cut off...
This is why investing in a UPS for your sound and lighting consoles is so important.

The only thing i have like this was in the laramie project i had 75 cues programed and everything worked just fine but half way through opening night the programing just goes and i had to make up the cues for the rest of the show. affter that i reprogramed all the cues and we did another tech run before the second night of the run and it worked great but during the show and this happend evry night affter that like clock work at the half all the programing just got wipped till i loaded it from a disk

the worst show of my life

Eboy87 said:
So, now instead of running sound, I'm running all over creation making sure everything is working (after the power goes back on) again, and nothing was damaged.

One factor might also be the power surge once you do get power up again. Such a voltage can easily make wee bit of circuit protection pop hopefully before the lamps and other things pop. Huge problem should you more than brown out. Luckily I think myself blessed in never having had to deal with such a situation. Backup power supplies both for at least house systems and UPS for control is as stated well recommended.

So who was it that did the before the curtain waltz and what specifically did they say beyond "technical difficulties?" Such info would be where instance happens be of use to others. How well was it responded to and how could it have been better delivered?
Hmm... I am offically out of "My" auditorium now... ::cry:: the Technical Director Took my keys today... since I graduated on friday! (yay!) but, when the power goes out there... our EQ and delay units (now replaced by a driverack) used to reset to really wacky settings and our emergency lights used to flip down out of the cieling and not lock into place (so they'd continually swing back and forth creating a really weird effect almost like we had intelligent lights ... but they were just the emergency lights) I think it would be very disorenting in any kind of evacuation situation and I have repeatidly requested they be fixed, but no such luck so far... maybe they'll do it over the summer when it's abit easier to intentionlly kill the power to test stuff like this.

I have never had power blow out on me during a show. I was DJing a Sr. Banqet last year and it was in this resturant on the top of a mountain and there was a thunderstorm and the lighting was flashing all arround us (in a room with glass windows all arround it was quite cool) but we kept the music going b/c the people @ the resturant said that there was something setup to stop lighting from hitting / messing w/ the building.
Possibly a lightening rod
I've only been down this route once, and I'm still scared about it four years later. I was rather green at the time, one of the first shows I worked. I remember sitting in the control room with a full house and a production in full swing, not really having to do anything, and next thign I know UPS alarms are ringing and my house is pitch black. Just ran out to the TD at the time and announced that holy crap we'd lost the room. I had not a damned clue what to do.

Since then, flashlights are in readily accessible places, we've walked through the procedures for this contingency, and to this day I always have one of my mini-halogen lights in my backpack, toolbag, etc. Since then, I'm confident no doubt I can easily manage something like this, but, again, at the time not even a chance I woulda been able to make ends meet if I was working the gig on my own.
I've had the power go out for a few seconds in a show before. Luckily when everything came back on all I had to do was get the console back en cue. Possibly, it was a brown out. We're not for sure. The other night during a production of A Chorus Line which I designed and am running the board for, the lights flickered twice. There was no bad weather, but I do know my city is notorious for surges and fluctuations. Oh, also later that night we had a lamp explode (HX600). It was a pretty nice pop and the filament blew out of a small hole and stretched about 1 inch from the lamp. I doubt the power problems had anything to do with it. We seem to lost more lamps during the summer months anyway. And the ones in the main beam like to 'go out in fasion' as we say. I don't think anyone touched this lamp because the only discoloration was of a yellow tint (oxidation I guess). No purple or black, or 'hotspots' on the lamp which are usually characteristic of "finger-F'ing". Just a nice hole in the glass.

Users who are viewing this thread