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Staging comes in all shapes and sizes… and no matter what event you organise guests will always expect a focal point. The stage will always be that focal point, a presentation area from which to sing a brand’s message, but often the stage is considered nothing more than a simple black platform.

That is staging at its most basic, and for many basic works but there are occasions where a more technical approach is needed to meet the event’s criteria.

One of The Big Chill’s star attractions this year was the Ziggurat of Flavour, a specially built structure featuring three levels. It was more than a stage, it was a platform that made a brand statement.

This structure was built by Steeldeck for Bompas and Parr, and the initial design concept was for a pyramid-shaped structure containing three separate levels. The bottom level was to be a labyrinth entry to somewhat disorient the customer before taking them up through to the next level – a banana cloud! From within the cloud, festivalgoers could then take a ladder up to the top floor that looked out over the whole site and from which you came down on a giant slide. The whole structure was built on the side of a hill looking down over the site so both slippage of the structure and wind loadings needed to be taken in to the account. Steeldeck’s project manager, Duncan Hails, worked closely with Rob Delahunty of Webb Yates Structural Engineers to come up with a design that allowed for all the internal areas and routes whilst being gutsy enough to withstand the wind once properly anchored to the ground.

This is a prime example of how staging companies can work with brands to create a totally new experience, and is demonstrative of a staging company’s creative nature. Staging is more than a few bits of scaffolding. It’s a platform that can launch a product or band into the limelight.

This summer also saw Steeldeck working closely with the English National Opera and Punchdrunk Theatre Company to create a three-tier structure. The structure housed the orchestra for an opera in a disused head office, closely situated near London airport. The structure measured 56 metres long and eight metres deep and with a top floor at 18 metres was somewhat top heavy. Not being allowed to tie into the building meant finding a way of concealing six tonnes of kentledge in the bottom of the structure which was achieved using significant numbers of 25kg sandbags. The structure was built slowly and carefully to avoid any damage to the building and a bridge constructed to a balcony at five-metres high within the atrium to allow the musicians to both access from below and above.

Steeldeck’s director, Richard Howey commented: “Since taking over the company about three and a half years ago the business has grown stronger and stronger. We’ve just taken on another 4,000 square feet of warehousing in central London to add to the existing 8,000 square feet and we have a number of other developments that should come to fruition over the next year so it’s an exciting time for the company. Projects like the ones above and others we’ve done this year are tremendously exciting, but we also pride ourselves on the service and commitment that we offer all of our customers.”

Drawing attention

Tim Entwistle, managing director of Movetech, shares Howey’s comments: “The rental side of our business is very buoyant at the moment and this is equally true in the exhibitions and events industry where stand and set designers are constantly looking for new ways to attract visitors, and movement has always proved reliable at increasing footfall.”

Movetech UK has always enjoyed strong sales overseas as it has built a strong worldwide network of distributors that hold stock, again to provide the flexibility and speedy supplies that are sometimes needed. Movetech UK has been involved with the exhibitions, events TV and film industry for nearly 50 years and it’s often the first port of call for a revolve or other movement. This is because it responds quickly and is very flexible in what it offers, often working out of normal hours to meet tight build, filming or performance schedules.

Movetech UK’ distributors in Dubai, Metel DXB, turned up the heat at the recent Dubai Motor Show by supplying four revolving stages to some of the world’s best-known car manufacturers. In each case the six-metre diametre stages were used to draw attention to the very latest models and concept cars.

Toyota was delighted with its stand designers that created a particularly dramatic display, revolving Toyota’s ‘standard car for the Next ERA’ at an angle with brilliant lighting effects.

General Motors also chose the six-metre revolving stage to display the Stingray concept car. Influenced by the Stingray race car introduced in 1959, its futuristic, part racecar, part spaceship styling was mirrored by the silvered deck. The movement, by catching the light as the stage revolved, reinforced the science fiction theme, creating an eye-catching show. A second revolving stage was used by General Motors to display a new class of vehicle, the Volt, the world’s first extended range electric vehicle. (E-Rev).

New developments

Star Events and Serious Staging are both enjoying busy seasons. Serious supplied an Orbit structure to Riverside’s Rewind festival whilst Star, as Stand Out writes, has been contracted by DF Concerts to provide a stage for the Pope’s imminent visit to the UK. As both staging giants continue with significant build schedules, industry is still waiting on the arrival of MAPS, a Mobile Acoustic Performance Shell. ES Group is currently part of a consortium working on a new iconic staging concept, which will revolutionise the sound achievable from temporary staging for outdoor music events. The consortium has formed a new British company, Soundforms, to bring together for the very first time some of the world’s finest acoustics specialists, architects, designers and engineers. World-class names such as IMG Artists, Hamiltons and Arup are collaborating alongside ES Group to develop the concept which is an advanced portable performance enclosure.