Inside the spectacular Terhal by Dragone show, an Inavation Award-winning project

Faced with construction delays and compressed timescales, BeWunder drew on its skills to help successfully stage a spectacular show in Saudi Arabia and picked up an Inavation Award in the process.

Last year Dragone took its unique approach to entertainment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia when its Terhal show was staged in Riyadh.

The entertainment company has made a name for itself with large scale immersive theatre shows that play to sell-out audiences across the globe and, in March 2023, joined forces with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture to stage Terhal.  

Terhal follows the story Saad, a young Saudi local, who finds the solutions to his problems within the history of his country. The story was crafted to reshape pre-existing notions of the Kingdom, showing Saudi Arabia as an innovative country with a technology-centric future.

The undertaking was a triumph of set design, technical production and storytelling and brought together technical, creative and production experts to bring the story of Saad to life. Among the companies that made the show a reality was BeWunder who, in 2024, took home the Inavation Award for best Live Event for its part in the spectacular show.

Time was a resource in short supply right from the outset of the project. Directly after winning the contract to deliver lighting and video systems for Terhal, BeWunder’s lighting team had to spring into action to kit out a rehearsal space in Dubai.

Paul Coopes, head of lighting at BeWunder, says: “Within two weeks of getting the final design, we’d created technical drawings of the lighting set up with the majority of the key elements in place and planned out. There were still some minor changes that would be made as the show transitioned to the Riyadh venue, but we pretty much had all technical aspects designed and planned within those first two weeks.”

“Lighting had to deploy a lot quicker, for video we had a bit more planning time and some back and forth with the client as we were deploying video straight into the venue in Saudi Arabia,” adds Matthew Holmes, head of video at BeWunder.

With rehearsals finishing up in Dubai, BeWunder’s attentions turned to Saudi Arabia but over in Riyadh construction delays were about to cause the Terhal technical teams some tricky challenges.

The Riyadh venue was purpose-built for Terhal and is, according to Holmes, “a really great venue with loads of potential for future events.”

As BeWunder arrived on site however it was a venue with walls still to go up. “It was still a construction site,” says Holmes. “That was testing for the crew for sure. A lot of dust and the projectors on site were affected. Maintenance on site was a big consideration but luckily we had a really proactive team working to minimise the impact.”

Although lighting equipment wasn’t as badly affected as projectors, Coopes says he underestimated the effect the dusty construction environment would have on the project. “We had regular maintenance already scheduled due to the length of time the kit was installed for, but we had to significantly increase this. I didn’t realise the amount of maintenance we’d have to do to get on top of all the building dust.”

Despite working to a compressed timescale while navigating production delays, the technical set up went smoothly with, when it came to lighting, a seamless transition from rehearsal space to final installation.

“There were some small adjustments as scenic elements that weren’t present in rehearsal were added but it was very minor,” says Coopes. “Dragone are a well-oiled machine. From their whole creative process, to having that time for rehearsal, they’re on the money each time in making sure all elements come together which made it a smooth process for us.”

The Terhal show incorporates large numbers of acrobatic performances and dance in an arena with a large audience seating area. BeWunder had to shed light onto the performance and support it with video and lighting, without overpowering the performers onstage and taking away from the artistry.

On the video side, 19 Panasonic RQ35K projectors were deployed to cover a moving chandelier and floor projection zones, while two Panasonic RQ50Ks were used for the main rear scrim.

“There was a lot of movement of surfaces,” notes Holmes. “The chandelier was tracked in and out so we had to have tracking cameras in the environment to know what the volume was and know how that was changing so the content could be matched perfectly. We also had to project on to the rear scrim and the timing of that was critical. It was flown in and out throughout the performance, it was essentially like a big billowing sail.”

BeWunder contracted VYV who provided Photon media servers with an Albion controller and OptiTrack Slim cameras to take control of the projection and mapping of the various surfaces.

A monitoring system was designed using Panasonic AW-UE100 cameras, so that the performance area could be viewed from multiple angles and displayed on back of house screens, while recordings were available for post-performance review at either the rehearsal or show stage. “We also recorded audio lines to support rehearsals so they can review audio and video footage,” adds Holmes.

The lighting system used a range of Aryton, GLP, Martin, Robe and Varytec luminaries with control handled by ETC Eos Ti consoles. This was integrated with an artist tracking system from Follow Me that was manually controlled by four operators.

“Normally when we use this system we are dealing on an X and Y axis but here we were tracking people in the air so we had to integrate a Z axis as well,” says Coopes. “Luckily we have a great relationship with Follow Me and they assisted us with the camera studies to make sure we were putting everything in the right place. I was so grateful of that relationship because it meant we weren’t wasting time trying to troubleshoot on site. We’d already talked through it all in pre-production meetings, knew what the challenges were and had found solutions.”

BeWunder’s involvement in Terhal also included a large deployment of technical staff throughout the whole run of the show handling everything from project management, systems checks, maintenance, server management, follow spot operators and more. “Dragone had lighting programmers to program the show and we had people shadowing them to understand the time coded and live elements of the show, before taking over control for the show when the programmers left,” adds Coopes.

When summing up the winning entry, Inavation Awards judges praised BeWunder’s flexibility in delivering a project with challenging and shifting timescales. Coopes says the only way BeWunder was able to achieve that was with robust systems and processes in place.

“This project has actually made me realise just how beneficial our internal processes are,” he notes. “The fact that we managed to turn around not just the technical drawings but also the logistics in the time we did is testament to the way we’re set up and strength with have in our teams and structure.”

Holmes agrees: “In this industry you’ve always got to be prepared to be thrown a curve ball. Rather than sitting back expecting everything to be perfect, you need to be ready to face the inevitable challenges.”

BeWunder topped the 2024 Inavation Awards Live Event category sponsored by Riedel with its work on Terhal by Dragone. 

Tech Spec

Aryton Perseo lights 
ETC Eos Ti consoles and RPU3
Follow Me system with 4 consoles
GLP JDC1 strobes and impression X4 Bar 20 battens
Martin Mac Ultra Performance moving head lights and Atomic 3000 LED strobes
Robe BMFL Spots, Megapointe and Spiiders
Varytec Typhoon True Kid 720z moving spots 


Albion controllers
OptiTrack slim cameras
Panasonic RQ35K and RQ50K projectors and AW-UE100 PTZ cameras
Photon media servers


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