Richard Pilbrow book cover

Lighting Design Team

Lighting design in Britain was in its infancy in 1957.

While the profession of the stage lighting designer had begun in the United States with the emergence of such luminaries as Abe Feder and Jean Rosenthal in the 1930's, Britain had been slow to follow.

Traditionally in the UK, shows were lit by the director, assisted by his electrician, whereas in the States, lighting had been the responsibility of the designer.

In the 1920's and 30's, London directors such as Basil Dean had, with their staff, pioneered new lighting methods, often adopting technology imported from the US and Germany. In the 1930's, George Devine, working with the design team of Motley, became a noted early lighting designer.

After World War II, Joe Davis, Chief Engineer for producers, H.M. Tennant, and stage manager, Michael Northen at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, became the pioneer specialist lighting designers in Britain.

Founded in 1914, Strand Electric grew to become the premiere lighting manufacturer in Britain, by the late 1950's they were effectively a monopoly.

As an Assistant Stage Manager at Her Majesty's Theatre, I developed an ambition to become a lighting designer. To establish myself, I began Theatre Projects in 1957, to initially rent low-cost lighting equipment to clients, in order to tempt them to also hire me as a designer. This put TP in direct competition with Strand Electric.

Eventually this strategy worked, and I began to build a reputation. This, in turn, brought more work, so I started to build a team of assistants. As opportunities proliferated, I encouraged them to light their own productions, and build their own reputations.

This eventually result in an amazing team of talented individuals, who built illustrious careers. They included Robert Ornbo, Bob Bryan, John B. Read, Nick Chelton, Howard Eldridge, John Harrison, David Hersey, Andy Bridge, Durham Maranghi, David Taylor, Molly Freidel, Nigel Levings, and others. Some of this merry band are shown below. The impact of their work has been international

A Lighting Design Team Reunion - Simon Bruxner-Randall, David Heresey, David Taylor, Bob Bryan, Andy Bridge, Richard Pilbrow, Robert Ornbo, Durham Maranghi, Simon Tapping, John Harrison, John B. Read. not shown: Nick Chelton, Howard Eldridge, Molly Friedel, Steve Kemp, Graham Large, Nigel Levings, Michael Wilson, and Benny Ball

Richard Pilbrow

Robert Ornbo

Robert Ornbo — "Back To Methusalah" NT

Bob Bryan

John B Read

Nick Chelton

David Hersey with Richard

Andy Bridge