cwmni Theatr Fach company


Dolgellau Amateur Dramatic Society

The Flood Light.

Fresnel Lantern

Pebble Convex


Profile Spot

Follow spot


Sound system



An illuminating tale by Dave Collins


I first published an article about how I came to be involved with D.A.D.S. on our new website a few years ago. Well, since then things have moved on, and we now have an updated lighting system with a few more lanterns and a new digital control desk. But for those of you who haven't access to our web page, I will give a brief history of how it all began.

I was doing some electrical work for the late Gavin Miller who was the Society's treasurer, and he asked me if I would like to help out and finish off the electrical work at the new theatre.

I have been involved with theatre on and off since I started work as an apprentice electrician at the Civic Hall Theatre in Guildford, Surrey in 1956, so this challenge was too good to miss. There were a few problems such as  lack of funds to buy new equipment, so I started with a single dimmer set and some lanterns donated by a society member, plus a collection of old stock aquired by various means and a borrowed control panel. So where do we start? First of all, the design has to be adaptable and easy to use. The word “lantern” is used to cover all types of theatre lights; there are several categories with various types in each group. The following is a list of the lanterns we now have at Theatre Fach:

The Flood Light.

A non-focusing lantern giving a wide covering of light. The only adjustment is angle andmasking with a shutter and barn door.


Fresnel Lantern.

Named after its French inventor, this lanternhas a thin convex lens giving a diffused light that can be focussed onto a specific area by moving the bulb and reflector inside the casing, and shaped by the barn door.



A fairly new lantern that has a thin lens with a pebble or small blips built into the lens. This gives a brighter and more concentrated beam which can be adjusted from wide to narrow by moving the lens and shaped with a barn door.


Spot Lights.

A lantern that gives a beam of light that can be shaped by internal shutters; these are usually positioned at Front of House, which is in front of the stage.


Profile Spot.

Similar to the above, but with the ability to project a pattern through a metal insert called a Gobo.


Follow Spot.

Larger version of the profile with several adjustments to give a soft or hard beam. With an iris inserted the beam can go from wide to black out. This lantern is mounted on a spigot and can be moved to follow the performers onstage.



This is now a widely used lantern on concert stages etc. because it is easy to set up; it consists simply of a cylinder with a nonadjustable sealed old-type car headlight bulb called a P.A.R. lamp because it gives a near parallel beam.


We now have a stock of 2 triple, 2 single and 4 portable floods, 8 Fresnel lanterns, 5 P.C. lanterns, 10 spotlights inc. profile, 4 cans, 1 followspot, a total of 40 lanterns with a total loading of 20,450 watts or 89 amps. Our supply can give us a maximum of 90 amps, but very rarely would you have all the lanterns on at once.

Now, how  do we position our “rig” and control all this? With our new digital control system all the lanterns will be individually plugged into 15 amp sockets, which are wired to the main board on stage right. Here are situated the new DMX dimmers which can feed 36 outlets, and all you have to do is to plug in the lanterns you want to use. The dimmers arecontrolled by our new juggler digital control deck, which is up on the technician's gallery at the back of the auditorium. This will enable the lighting technician to select and control individual lanterns, plus many other effects including storing scenes which can then be cued at the press of a button.

I have tried to design and install a system which is reasonably easy to use, and which should give us all the lighting requirements we need for the forseeable future. Lighting technology is advancing at a rapid rate with new types of lanterns appearing all the time.

The designer/technician can achieve wonders if the finance is available.

A request made 23 years ago has led me into a very interesting and worthwhile hobby. If there is anyone out there who would like to become involved with theatre in any capacity, my advice is DO IT – you won't regret it!


Sound System.

Sound as well as lighting is a very important part of a production. I have installed a system fed by a Yamaha amplifier into a Yamaha bass and four Goodman speakers, We have a 12-way Folio mixer board, a Sony five-way CD player also a single CD player to allow rapid change or fade in/out, and a cassette deck for play and record. There are 2 microphone sockets on stage right and the use of a `Radio Mic' when required,


Above the stage is a microphone which is fed into a separate Eagle amplifier feeding speakers in the dressing room and club room; also a microphone for announcements etc. Communication between the technicians gallery and backstage is by Maxon radio headsets, or hand-held walkie-talkies


Additional sockets on stage are available for extras, and all the lighting and sound is controlled from the technicians gallery.


The systems described are adequate for our needs at the moment but improvements can always be made when funds become available.


The operating of the above, and the setting up of the lights etc. can be very interesting, with every production different. In fact situations can, and often do, change during rehearsals so the operator has to be flexible and patient, which is all part of being a member of an amateur dramatic society.


A casual request 21 years ago has become an interesting and, I hope, worthwhile hobby, so anybody out there who is interested in theatre - get involved. You won't regret it.



Contact: Box Office 01341 422680  Location: Theatr Fach, Glyndwr Street, Dolgellau LL40 1BD  Website design by