Theatre in Wales

The latest theatre, dance and performance news

Artificial lightning bolts to strike Swansea!     

A working version of a Tesla Coil, a device that generates man-made lightning sparks of up to 25 foot, is being developed as part of a new performance, which will be in production throughout November at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. Educational performances will climax with public presentations on the 25th & 26th November, 2005.

Alternating Currents has been made possible thanks to an award of £47,500 from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), the organisation that supports innovations in UK science.

Funding, through NESTA’s Learning programme, will enable new Cardiff-based performing arts company Moving Being Ltd to collaborate with science communicators to produce a series of performances that tell the story of Nikolai Tesla, the father of the Tesla Coil. Moving Being will collaborate with special effects firm HVFX to create a working large-scale Tesla coil that can be experienced safely as part of the climax to performance.

A Tesla Coil is used to produce fantastic high voltage sparking displays. It takes the output from a 120vAC to a several kilovolt transformer and driver circuit and increases it to a higher voltage. This can rise to well above 1,000,000 volts and is discharged in the form of electrical arcs. Tesla coils are unique in the fact that they create extremely powerful electrical fields and large coils have been known to wirelessly light up florescent lights up to 50 feet away.

Grant Bage, Director of Learning at NESTA, said:
“With health and safety regulations taking a lot of the wow factor of science out of the classroom, NESTA is delighted to be supporting a project that not only brings it back, but increases its ability to inspire and awe. We look to support innovations in science at all levels and hope the Tesla Coil encourages a new generation of scientists with some jaw-dropping displays in Swansea.”

The Tesla Coil is named after Nikola Tesla, an inventor and electrical engineer who paved the way for many of the inventions that we rely on in modern society, such as radio, television and the telephone. Despite this, it is his contemporary Edison who is often considered the father of electricity, but the Tesla Coil exhibit will credit Tesla’s remarkable contribution to this field of science.

This process of collaboration between performers and scientists will be recorded, and ultimately shared and evaluated, with the aim of illustrating transferable skills and pointers to the way in which performance can breathe life into the themes and technology of science.


Moving Being - under its artistic director Geoff Moore and technical director John Thorne - is renowned for harnessing innovative multi-media techniques, and has pioneered the application of technology to theatre over many years.

NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) investing in innovators and working to improve the climate for creativity in the UK.

Established in 1998 and set up with an endowment from the National Lottery (£200 million, raised in 2003 to £250 million), NESTA invests the interest to support UK innovation. Since May 2000, when the programmes first opened, NESTA has spent over £58m on programmes supporting 683 awards. Visit to find out more.

NESTA has a dedicated Media Room on its web site where news releases like this are easily available and where journalists can subscribe to receive any future releases. Other information, including high-resolution images to download and Communications contact details, are also available at

NESTA's Learning (formerly Education) programme aims to support innovative and pioneering learning projects which provide models for others to follow or develop and to increase public understanding of individual creativity in science, technology and the arts.

We support highly innovative approaches to learning and understanding about creativity for people of all ages. We are keen to breakdown barriers and add value to the curriculum.

Beyond formal education, we support fresh thinking about continuous professional development and new tools for learning and lifelong learning

Moving Being  
web site

Tuesday, November 08, 2005back



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