Summer at the Royal Academy of Music by Rob Halliday

Rob has just finished lighting the Royal Academy of Music's summer musicals, this year Working, directed by Kimberley Sykes, and Sweet Smell of Success, directed by Hannah Chissick.

Rob has been a regular at the Academy over the last nineteen years, lighting a remarkable range of shows including A Catered Affair, A Little Night MusicA... My Name Is Alice, CabaretA Chorus LineCity of AngelsInto The WoodsJane EyreOh What A Lovely WarPromises PromisesSweeney ToddSweet CharityTommy and others.

However, this year was the opening year of the Academy's new Susie Sainsbury Theatre, built in the same space as the previous theatre and connected to the same (though enlarged) stage - giving the somewhat unusual experience of sitting in a completely new auditorium looking at a very familiar stage (and, in particular, a very familiar, very distinctive theatre back wall!).

Designer Basia Binkowksa took full advantage of the opportunities offered by the expanded stage, however, and the lighting made use of the latest technology purchased as part of the refurbishment, including ETC's Lustr2 LED spotlights and Martin's Mac Encore LED moving lights. 

Rob was supported by RAM's fantastic technical team of Michal 'Skip' Francis and Anthony Hannah, by the technical students from Rose Bruford (particularly production electricians Liam Rudd and Stephen 'Legs' Carter and programmers Jonny Myers and Josh Musgrave), and was delighted to be working once again alongside sound designer Mike Walker and his team, and with RAM's Musical Theatre Company Manager Katie Blumenblatt, Events Manager Gilly Schofield, and of course by the Head of Musical Theatre Daniel Bowling.

It was a pleasure to be back, and to be involved in two such fantastic productions.


   Working   Royal Academy of Music, 2018 Director: Kimblerley Sykes Choreographer: Aline David Designer: Basia Binkowska  

Royal Academy of Music, 2018
Director: Kimblerley Sykes
Choreographer: Aline David
Designer: Basia Binkowska

ITEAC 2018 by Rob Halliday


Rob will be part of this year’s International Theatre Engineering & Architecture Conference (ITEAC), which takes place this week at IET: Savoy Place in London. 

Held every four years, this year’s event is sub-titled ‘Places for Performance: New Directions,’ and promises to explore the new ways in which performance spaces are developing, learning from the lessons of the previous four years and considering the challenges of the next, particularly in the context of what the creators of performance will require of the spaces in which they work, and to which they invite their audiences.

Rob is part of, and has helped organise, a panel called ‘Bursting the Bubble: LED, Regulation and the Future of Lighting’. This takes a look at what venue planners need to consider moving forward, as technology advances, and as control of the equipment used for stage lighting gets taken out of the control of its practitioners whether by legislation or just the decision by manufacturers to stop producing some of the devices we love, particularly tungsten light bulbs.

Alongside Rob will be a team of top theatre practitioners, including lighting designer Lucy Carter, the National Theatre’s head of lighting, Matt Drury, Simone Capeleto of ADB, and Steve Terry of ETC.

The session takes place this Tuesday, June 5th, at 11.30am.

ITEAC: [link]

RIMINI 2018: Making Giudizio Universale by Rob Halliday

Rob was delighted to be invited by Clay Paky to speak at this year’s Music Inside Rimini trade show at Rimini, Italy - a show he’s heard about since he first started working in lighting, but which, until now, he’s never visited.

Rob spoke about the making of the show Giudizio Universale, the Balich Worldiwde Shows production which is playing now in Rome and which uses a rig equipment from Clay Paky and sister company ADB, including fifty of ADB’s classic, but still remarkable, Svoboda fixtures.

However the talk wasn’t just about the technology involved, but about the challenges of designing shows such as this, and then making them work in challenging venues on tight schedules while still achieving the initial vision for the lighting - and having a good time doing so! Having a good selection of snacks (healthy and unhealthy) on the production desk is just one of the tips Rob shared.

The talk was well attended, and well received by all those who were there.

Giudizio Universale: [link]
Music Inside Rimini: [link]


Consent in the West End by Rob Halliday


Rob will be working once again with lighting designer Rick Fisher this month, helping him transfer the acclaimed play Consent from the National Theatre to London’s Pinter Theatre.

This continues a collaboration which stretches back almost two decades, and most recently has included productions of Billy Elliot in the US, Holland, Japan and touring the UK, and the new musical Mata Hari in Japan.

Rob will be serving as associate lighting designer and lighting programmer on the show as it is adapted by director Roger Michell, designer Hildegard Bechtler, lighting designer Rick Fisher and sound designer John Leonard from the traverse staging it enjoyed at the National’s Dorfman Theatre to the more traditional environs of the Pinter Theatre. The Pinter - and its previous incarnation, the Comedy, is also a theatre Rob has enjoyed a long association with, from A Glass Menagerie twenty years ago, to The Children’s HourThe Browning Version/South Downs, Death and the Maiden, and Merrily We Roll Along

Consent, written by Nina Raine, is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and the National Theatre; it opens at the Pinter on May 29th.

Consent: [link]

#SaveStageLighting by Rob Halliday


Rob has spent much of the last few weeks working with the Association of Lighting Designer’s Save Stage Lighting campaign, which is working to alert people to the issues presented to entertainment lighting by the European Union’s proposed 2020 lighting regulations.

Under these regulations, if implemented as written, almost all of the entertainment lighting tools that are in use every day across Europe would no longer be available. This includes tungsten light bulbs - meaning that generations of lighting fixtures would quickly become redundant - but also even the very latest low-energy LED lighting fixtures. This because the new regulations remove the existing exemption that stage lighting enjoys, while also significantly tightening up the energy efficiency standards for lighting equipment.

For the ALD, Rob has written two guides to these regulations and the impact they could have, a ‘Primer’ aimed at explaining the rules to lighting people, and a ‘Briefing Document’ aimed at explaining the issue to those who run theatres. 

He has also been working with the Save Stage Lighting campaign’s Robbie Butler and Paule Constable to raise awareness of the issue across producing theatres, subsidised theatres and far beyond the world of theatre, into live music, events, film and television. 

Save Stage Lighting: [link]
Save Stage Lighting in The Stage: [link]

Return to the Royal Academy by Rob Halliday

  Photographer: Jake Wiltshire

Photographer: Jake Wiltshire

Rob is delighted to have been invited back to the Royal Academy of Music in London, to light the first of their annual musicals to appear in the Academy’s brand new theatre - the Susie Sainsbury Theatre.

Rob has been lighting the Academy’s summer musicals - two shows playing in rep - for most of the years since 1999. Amongst the many great productions, favourites have included TommyFolliesSweet Charity, City of AngelsA Chorus Line, Cabaret, Into the Woods and a remarkable production of Jane Eyre. He lit the last musicals in the old Jack Lyons theatre, Little Me and A Catered Affair, in 2013. After that the theatre was dis-mantled and an entirely new theatre created in the same space.

This year’s shows will be Working and Sweet Smell of Success, performing through June.

RAM Summer Musicals:
Working: [link]
Sweet Smell of Success:  [link]

Open In Rome: Giudizio Universale by Rob Halliday

  Photographer: Luca Parisse

Photographer: Luca Parisse

The night of Thursday March 15th saw the opening night of the new show Giudizio Universale in Rome, with the lighting co-designed by Rob and Bruno Poet.

Telling the story of Michelangelo and his work in the Sistine Chapel, the show is at the Auditorium Conciliazione, next to the Vatican, and is produced by Balich Worldwide Shows. The show's lighting supports a dramatic immersive design by Stufish centred around stunning projections by Luke Halls that allow the audience to examine Michelangelo’s work in much closer detail than is possible even by visiting the Sistine Chapel itself!

Rob and Bruno designed a rig which spans the ages of technology, from Clay Paky’s brand new Axcor Beam 300 (an LED version of their popular Sharpy fixture), to a spectacular feature created from 49 of the legendary Svoboda lights - complete with one new trick never before seen in a Svoboda.

Rob was supported in Rome by a team including assistant lighting designer/assistant programmer Robin Senoner, production electrician Daniele Giuliano, technical director Giandomenico Barbon and production manager Paolo Quarino. 

Giudizio Universale is a production by Marco Balich, co-directed by Lulu Helbek, with choreography by Fotis Nikolau, music by John Metcalfe, the main theme song by Sting, stage design by Stufish, video design by Luke Halls, costumes by Giovanna Buzzi and sound design by Mirko Perri. 

Produced with the scientific advice of the Vatican Museums, the show is a production of Artainment Worldwide Shows. Running now, with performances in Italian and English, the show is looking forward to a long run.

Giudizio Universale: [link]

Tree of Codes: Now Olivier Nominated by Rob Halliday

MIF15 Tree of Codes credit Joel Chester Fildes 6122.jpg

Tree of Codes, the internationally acclaimed dance show which Rob created with director/choreographer Wayne McGregor, visual designer Olafur Eliasson, composer Jamie xx and sound designer Nick Sagar, has been nominated as Best New Dance Production in the 2018 Olivier Awards. The nomination follows the show’s run at Sadler’s Wells in London during 2017. [link].

Since Sadler’s Wells, the show has been seen in Aarhus, Melbourne and Sydney. New dates for the show during 2018, 2019 and 2020 will be confirmed shortly.

The 2018 Olivier Awards will be presented at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Sunday, April 8th.

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes