Performances in Orchard Hall

The Orchard Hall can be converted into a theatre, cinema, lecture hall or concert hall with up to 130 members of audience accommodated on elevated retractable seating. For the cinema and presentations there is a large screen and high definition projector. For theatre use there are professional microphones, stage lighting and back drop curtains.

Some of the equipment is complicated and we need to be sure that it is being used properly.  The equipment is also not cheap, and additional charges for their use is appropriate.  However, we are aware that most users will have a limited budget so we aim to find a balance where the arrangements and charges are practical and not unreasonable.

Orchard Hall is also a multi-use hall so the use of facilities must be arranged and planned in advance.  The hall has no janitor service, so you will need to be prepared to do your own set up and clean up.  That said, the trustees will work with you as much as possible to make sure your event is a success.

Retractable seating

This provides tiered seating for 117 people, and with a mandatory row of chairs in front, it takes the capacity to nearly 130.  You should reserve time to find out how to use it and make one person responsible for using it safely.  You should not rely on a trustee being available to set it up for you. There may be a charge for the use of the seating to cover the time cost of showing you how to use it safely, or of being there on the night to set it up and put it away, with your help.

Stage curtains or screens

We have mobile screens which provide a simple backing to a performance.  These are normally locked away, so you must arrange in advance for them to be available.

We also have a set of stage curtains.  These black curtains are mounted on poles.  The heights and widths of the poles are adjustable.  They are mounted on heavy bases and can be positioned to allow gaps for entrances and exits as required.  Lightweight “props” can also be draped over the curtains.

Working out how to use the curtains is not straightforward, and you must arrange for a hall trustee to show you how they work.

There is no additional charge for using them, but you are responsible for putting them up and taking them down and leaving them properly stowed and packed at the end of each performance.

See page with example set-ups.

Stage lighting

The hall is equipped with:

12 x Compact Par Q4 fixed lights,
2 x Showtec iW720 and
2 x Showtec iS200

(technical details on a separate page):

Lighting is controlled by DMX Control software.  Any technician using the lights must demonstrate a familiarity with the software, and ideally provide their copy of the software on their own laptop.

Lighting must only be operated by competent persons and you, as hall hirer, must make sure that it is not tampered with by people who do not know what they are doing.

Sound system and performer microphones

We have a mixing panel to take sound from various inputs, including performer microphones and a laptop or phone/tablet like device.

Sound is relayed to the main amplifiers through a long cable, which must be positioned and tested in advance.  We have tried wireless connections, without much success.

However, the performer microphones are wireless and connect into 4 pairs of receivers (i.e. 8 mics are supported).  These microphones are very delicate (and expensive) and you may be charged for breakages. They are provided with rechargeable batteries.  We recommend that you appoint one person to take charge of distributing and collecting the mics after use and keeping them in good condition and making sure that the batteries are charged up (in advance).

Important Technical note:  The sound system must be on a separate electrical circuit from the lighting so as to avoid interference, spikes and occasional trips.  Sockets on the balcony are marked accordingly, and if a laptop is used for sound playback, it must not be the same one that is used to control the lighting.

AV system and projector

The hall has an AV system and overhead projector.  Usage is described separately.  A Chromecast dongle is available on request, which enables images to be broadcast from a laptop on the stage balcony through the AV system to the overhead projector for display above the stage.  Please ask in advance if you plan to use this.

Stage “tech” – lighting and sound


The lighting system is set up with some basic settings to light a performance.  We have one trustee able use this and bring up the lights at the start of a performance, and dim them at the end.  (house lights also managed).  These basic settings exclude use of spotlights, or different lighting scenes during a performance, but they are very effective, none the less, for concerts.

Full control

There are three scenarios:

  1. You are a regular user and need no help with tech
  2. You have some knowledge of the venue tech but need someone to come and help set up
  3. You have no knowledge of the venue tech and need support throughout performance

For scenario 1, where you have your own technical capability, we will need to work with you to assess your skills set and make sure that we are all happy that you know how to use the equipment.

We currently rely on the services of a student technician, who helps with scenarios 2 and 3 above.

Charges will vary accordingly.  We reserve the right to charge an additional deposit, and/or request an indemnity that you will be responsible for covering the cost of repairing or replacing any damaged equipment.

Additional equipment

No additional electrical equipment may be used without the express permission of Booking Administration.  Any such equipment must be fully PAT tested.  If additional lighting is requested, it must be LED DMX enabled, and the positioning of all cabling must comply with health and safety requirements and be approved by a trustee.

“Green room”

We have a room next to the stage area of the hall which allows performers to enter the hall without using the main entrance doors.  If you want to use this, let us know, because there is equipment stored in there that needs to be moved.

Technical note: the lights in this room are automatic, turned on by sensor. They are treated as emergency lights and will come on if power is removed, so the only way to make them dark is to cover up the ceiling sensor with duck tape.

Dressing/changing rooms

Large cast performances have used our second hall (Cherry Hall) as a changing room, and a place for actors to wait when not on stage.  If not used behind the stage, the screens can be used to partition the room into gender specific areas.  Alternatively, the screens can be used in the foyer to provide a corridor for cast members to move between Cherry Hall and the Green Room.

Noise levels

As with all bookings, hirers must be aware that the hall is in a residential neighbourhood.  Please see specific terms and conditions, and make sure that all doors and windows in Orchard Hall are closed during a performance.


Page updates
29 Nov, updated following approval at trustees meeting
2 Oct first draft


A venue for all in Harwell, Oxfordshire