“Dinosaurs Alive!” A month-long exhibition of animatronic dinosaurs at Rothes Halls in 1995
I was Technical&Operations Manager for the venue, and on this show pretty much acted as Designer as well as Production Manager.
Rothes Halls was faced with an empty spell in the Main Hall, and my boss, Brian Horsburgh, heard that the “Dinosaurs alive” touring animatronics was then in Aberdeen, and would become available. The show was pretty much just the exhibits – set and setting was down to us.
We didn’t have much time to prepare, and were very lucky that a number of major sponsors helped us – everyone from Velux Fife Joinery (makers of Velux windows) lending us fork-lift trucks and drivers to the Forestry Commission donating pine trunks, and uncounted mounts of chipped bark and spaghnum moss. The technical team called in just about every favour they had!
Front of House was equally busy, preparing Educational Packs for school and group visits. We even splashed out – for the only time in my seven years at Rothes Halls – on local TV advertising. The opening day was slight bedlam – queues literally round the outside of the building, on a very hot day. We called in stalwart local performer “Clown Stevie” to stilt-walk, juggle, and keep the queue amused.
One thing I was very proud of was the efforts we made to ensure accessibility. We ran several morning sessions, before the general opening, where potentially-scared kids could come in and see the exhibits under bright working lights, not moving. Kids with visual disabilities were encouraged to touch, and feel the whole size of vast creatures like triceratops and T. Rex. Standing the kids well back, each exhibit was then powered up and started moving. Then the sound effects started running. Finally the exhibition lighting was turned on and the working lights turned off, and the show was ready to open for the day.
There’s a set of stills showing some details of the fit-up for this, starting HERE