The Shadow Factory

How do you represent both the mechanics of flight and the sinister beauty of a Spitfire on stage?
This was the design challenge taken up by 59 Productions on The Shadow Factory – the inaugural show at the Nuffield Southampton Theatre’s brand new “NST City” venue in the heart of Southampton.
The answer: a combination of projection, sound, movement and a radical new deployment of TAIT Towers’ Nano Winches, combined by 59’s designers into a programmable kinetic sculpture, incorporating custom LED fixtures made by LED Creative.
59 has conceived a dynamic design solution utilising 36 small and extremely fast “Nano Winches”, developed by TAIT Towers. These single-axis movement devices are connected in groups of three to pairs of lighting bars, all controlled via a central computerised system, with the complex movements programmed via a lighting desk. Augmented by light and projection, the resulting ‘kinetic sculpture’ physically describes the mechanisms of powered flight and the organic, fluid beauty of a bird on the wing.
Technology meets art in order to illustrate the concept of flight, to describe architectural locations, and to represent the devastation of the second World War.
Autumn 1940. The Battle of Britain rages.
Southampton is home to our only hope of victory: the Spitfire. But when the Luftwaffe drops 2,300 bombs in three devastating raids, the city goes up in flames and the Woolston Supermarine Spitfire factory is destroyed. From the ashes, a story of chaos, courage and community spirit emerges.
Jackie is the third generation of Dimmock at her family-run laundry. Polly is the first and only draughtswoman in the Spitfire design office. How will each woman forge her own path in this evolving landscape?
One of Britain’s greatest living playwrights, Hampshire-born Howard Brenton, (Anne Boleyn, Shakespeare’s Globe; Pravda, National Theatre) tells the remarkable and little known story of how Southampton stepped up when the chips were down.
59 Productions worked with Nuffield Southampton Theatres to design the set, lighting, projections and costumes for this spectacular world premiere which opened Southampton’s brand new theatre, NST City in February 2018.