Ron, Irene honoured with award

LIGHTS AND SOUNDS: Ron Hay and partner Irene Palmer received Gold Cards from the Middleback Arts Centre, which allows complimentary entry to any show at the MAC.

LIGHTS AND SOUNDS: Ron Hay and partner Irene Palmer received Gold Cards from the Middleback Arts Centre, which allows complimentary entry to any show at the MAC.

After 35 years of bringing dazzling lights and spectacular sounds to the Middleback Arts Centre (MAC), Ron Hay and partner Irene Palmer have been rewarded for their dedication with Gold Cards.

The cards function as life memberships to the Middleback Arts Centre and allow complimentary entry into theatrical events at the MAC.

Ron and Irene's journey with the MAC started when the building was first opened in 1985. Ron was offered the position of casual sound engineer while Irene was appointed as the casual lighting engineer by Technical Manager Brenton Jones.

At the time Irene had been working at the TAFE Theatrette on a Whyalla Players production, and jumped at the chance to get further involved in the theatre industry.

"For me there was a huge learning curve, I had a massive lighting desk and I had never worked one before in my life," Irene said.

Ron had previously done audio work while on tour with local bands, and put his experience to use at the Middleback Arts Centre.

"We had an understanding of what was what, Brenton taught Irene a lot about the lighting side of it," he said.

The first big show that Irene was behind the lighting desk for was the Footrot Flats stage production, which featured over 120 lighting cues.

However shortly before the show, disaster struck, and the computer inside the desk crashed - meaning Irene had to do all 120 cues manually.

"We got through it, fortunately in those days we used to write down all the cues. Every lamp in the theatre had a number and they all had a level, which we would write down," Irene said.

"You learn a lot from working big shows. You learn how to make the lighting work."

Looking back at all the production he has been involved with, Ron said manning the sound has always been very rewarding.

"At the end of the day you go into a show and you come out of it knowing that you've contributed to that particular performance," he said.

"You get to take the audience on a magical journey."

Many local organisations have benefited from the talents of Ron and Irene, including the Whyalla Players, the Whyalla Ballet School and Samaritan College.

They were both very involved in the Players' production of both Mary Poppins and Phantom of the Opera, which were brought to life at the MAC.

MAC Manager Ryan Sutherland, who presented the Gold Cards to Ron and Irene last Tuesday, said it was an honour to give them some recognition for their hard work over the years.

Now retired, Ron and Irene are looking forward to the next stage of their lives.