The iconic theater De Maagd, located in picturesque Bergen Op Zoom in the Netherlands, is notable for a number of reasons. One is that it wasn’t actually built as a theater. It started life as a church before undergoing a comprehensive makeover in 1990 to become the cultural epicenter it is today.
Historically, theater De Maagd has been known for its innovative residential theatre shows and musicals. With the installation of new theatre automation technology, theater De Maagd is dedicated to offering educational programs that help the next generation of theater technicians and showrunners perfect their craft with a hands-on learning experience that will provide students with an advantage over their contemporaries.
More recently, the theater has undergone another makeover. In March 2020, theater De Maagd brought in TAIT to embark on an ambitious new partnership to retrofit the theater with new automation technology, making it the first in mainland Europe to host the newest automation console, epiQ™, of the TAIT Navigator Automation Platform’s product line.
The epiQ console has been designed from the ground up specifically to make the most of the iQ powered by Navigator which is an automation software that puts the power of automation at the fingertips of more operators and programmers through its intuitive interface.
epiQ’s combination of touchscreen interfaces and hardware controls allow the operator to quickly select axes, set motion parameters, and speed scale in-progress motion.
It’s compact size and portability means that the console can be located close to the stage technology it’s controlling, giving excellent line-of-sight for pinpoint control, or can be relocated to front of house to operate the show from a grand scale.
To maximize the creative potential of the theater De Maagd and create the most cohesive theater automation experience, TAIT retrofitted 40 new BigTow winches and flybars, activated by the epiQ console, to lift scenery, lights and props specific to each individual show. In addition to flybars and winches, TAIT installed a grand front curtain capable of opening in both Greek and Wagner style.
“Our dedication to building easy-to-learn automation products and our commitment to bringing the power of the TAIT Navigator Automation Platform to a wider audience has been a perfect fit for our partnership with the theater De Maagd. With this partnership, we’re able to showcase theater automation solutions at theater De Maagd and train Curio students to be future operators and programmers with the automation products they will use on the job,” said Gemma Hodgson, Global Head of Business Development, TAIT.
Underscoring their commitment to educating the next generation of theater operators, theater De Maagd, TAIT, Siemens Digital Industries and the vocational education and training(VET)institute Curio have created a partnership that allows students to be among the first to train directly on the new epiQ consoles installed at the theater.
Delivered with invaluable input from Patrick van der Velden of Bergen op Zoom Council, Cees Snellink and consultants, Theateradvies, starting during the 2021 Spring semester, students will learn the technical side of stage machinery, programming and operation, while developing an appreciation for how automation technology can enhance a show’s experience for the audience. They’ll be able to take theoretical knowledge and apply it to real-world, practical scenarios using the epiQ console in a theater setting.
Thijs Bruins, Business Development Manager at TAIT, explained, “We want everyone to be able to experience the unique blend of power and simplicity that TAIT Navigator offers. Our partnership with theater De Maagd defines how the next generation of programmers and operators will realize their potential and fully understand the power of automation by training on the epiQ console in a theater setting.”
COVID-19 means that – as with much of the entertainment industry – the theater De Maagd is currently closed, but with the new TAIT automation technology fully installed, the theater is ready to start delivering breathtaking experiences and invaluable educational opportunities as soon as lockdown lifts.