Focus On: Lighting at RADA
Find out about what our Technical Theatre and Stage Management students learn about lighting
Entertainment lighting falls at the apex of creativity and technology. The intersection of design and technical production in lighting therefore forms the core of training at all three years in the lighting department.
In the first year, our students learn the fundamentals of lighting programming and production, as well as an introduction into lighting design. First year students form the backbone of the crew that delivers the physical structure behind the diversity of moods, looks and special effects that are conceived by our creative teams.
A good working knowledge of stage lighting is relevant to specialists in all areas of theatre. Understanding the interaction of light with costumes and scenic textures is vital to our builders, wardrobe supervisors and scenic artists. Experience of the nuances of the time and resources required by a lighting department at a practical level inform our stage managers and production managers. The intersection of light, sound and direction give rise to the rhythm of a piece, as well as its setting and mood; thus, our designers-in-training are exposed to vhis collaboration right from the outset of their studies.
The creative delivery of lighting is comparatively late in the production process, because it can only be seen in the theatre space itself and not in rehearsal. Knowing this, our students learn key transferable skills about flexibility, working to strict deadlines and effective decision making whilst studying in the lighting department. At a second and third year level, our students take on managerial roles and begin to develop advanced skills in electrical safety, object suspension and rigging, crew management and, crucially, the many digital networking and computerised lighting control systems that underpin all entertainment lighting across the civilised world.
There is project-based work as well as production work, with one milestone project per term. This term sees the Son et Lumière project take over the Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre.
Matt Leventhall, Head of Lighting, explains: ‘Son et Lumière provides our students with a vital insight into the world of lighting for live music. The project is very intense, with a two-week turnaround from design concept to final performance, and our students combine live busking with pre-plotted sequences in both lighting and video’.
The new year brings a collaboration with Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, whereby our third year lighting designers will collaborate with their counterparts from the West London school to present three new pieces of contemporary dance. This year for the first time we will integrate the Blacktrax system, which links live camera tracking using artificial intelligence and augmented reality to generate both lighting and video content in real time, which is based on the dancers’ movement and gestures.
The lighting for our shows is designed by a mixture of both third year students and freelance industry professionals, with the opening shows of the Autumn season being no different.
It is a critically important feature of our work that the RADA Lighting Department is intertwined with industry. This link comes through our relationship with leading partners in lighting hire and manufacture, White Light and Robe respectively. Our graduates hold key leadership positions at the National Theatre, Royal Opera House and across the UK and Europe and we work with these establishments on a daily basis. As well as working day-to-day with key industry players, our students visit without fail all key industry events, conferences and trade shows.
On the first set of shows this year, you'll experience a close collaboration in lighting and video by BA (Hons) in Technical Theatre and Stage Management students Tyler Forward and Jacob Steele for stoning mary. And spare a thought for the diversity of nine separate locations generated by the lighting designed by BA (Hons) student James Godwin for Keffiyeh/ Made in China. You won’t miss the biggest and brightest union flag RADA has ever seen in Mysterious Bruises, designed by Rory Beaton and delivered by our Production Electrician Joe Underwood, second year FdA student.
Applications are now open for the FdA and BA in Technical Theatre and Stage Management.