Playing Now: Shrek by Rob Halliday


Rob has just completed lighting Shrek at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, for GSA.

As GSA’s Mig Burgess has delighted in pointing out online, the production uses five (or more) shades of green - a colour not normally seen much out of panto season, but which becomes quite useful when the leading character has a green face!

The show’s lighting has been supported by Ambersphere, allowing students to experience the Robert Juliat Dalis cyc lights, and the Ayrton Ghibli and Clay Paky K20 and Axcor Beam 300 LED moving lights.

GSA and Ambersphere are holding an open day about this equipment and the latest advances in colour rending with LED sources - plus the chance to see the rig in action over extracts from the show - this Wednesday, March 25th, from 2-5pm; Rob will be there to talk about LEDs, lighting when the leading performer is green and anything else that comes up!

Shrek at the Yvonne Arnaud: [link]
GSA / Ambersphere Lighting Open Day: [link]

Adelphi, +21 by Rob Halliday


Twenty-one years after working on the musical Chicago at London’s Adelphi Theatre with lighting designer Ken Billington, Rob is back at the Adelphi Theatre with lighting designer Ken Billington and the musical Waitress.

“Ken called and asked if I’d like to program the London production of Waitress,” Rob explains. “What else could I say other than - same theatre, twenty-one years later, why not? Ken of course immediately replied that we’d have no problem getting in to the theatre since we both look exactly the same now as we did then…”

With music and lyrics by the award-winning Sara Bareilles, book by screenwriter Jessie Melson and direction by Diane Paulus, the show has already enjoyed considerable success in New York and on tour in the USA.

The show’s design team also includes scenic designer Scott Pask, costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlab and sound designer Jonathan Deans.

Working with Billington are associate lighting designer Aaron Porter, assistant lighting designer Douglas Green, and production electrician Gerry Amies - another veteran of that original London production of Chicago.

Waitress is previewing now at the Adelphi Theatre.

Waitress London: [link]

Playing Now: Cry-Baby by Rob Halliday


Rob has just completed lighting the musical Cry-Baby for the ArtsEd School in London; the show opened tonight.

The show is directed by Hannah Chissick, for whom Rob lit Sweet Smell of Success at the Royal Academy last summer. It is choreographed by Chris Whittaker, designed by Philip Whitcomb, with musical direction by Tamara Saringer and sound design by Tom Marshall. It plays until Saturday January 26th.

Cry-Baby at Arts Ed: [link]

A Lovely Surprise by Rob Halliday

Rob was surprised, delighted, humbled, flattered, proud and incredibly grateful to be presented with Life Membership of the Association of Lighting Designers, along with lighting designers Robbie Butler and Paule Constable, at the annual Lighting Lunch on Monday.

This wonderful gift was presented by the ALD to recognise the work the three have carried out ‘in recognition of service to the development of the Association, with special reference to the Stage Stage Lighting Campaign during 2018.‘

Save Stage Lighting is the campaign that was brought rapidly to life at the start of the year in response to the threat that the European Union’s proposed new Ecodesign Lighting regulations to irrevocably damage performance lighting. Created by the ALD, the Campaign quickly attracted a great deal of attention with its weekend of projecting the #SaveStageLightng logo inside and outside many of the highest profile theatres and other performance events across Europe. Rob and the ALD also worked to ensure that the issue was clearly explained to anyone interested, in particular publishing an explanatory document alongside Focus magazine, and regular updates on the ALD’s website.

More importantly, the campaign marshalled the support of other organisations across Europe, including PLASA, the Society of London Theatre, many of the UK and Europe’s key theatres and commercial producers, VPLT in Germany, OETGH in Austria, the Association of Swedish Lighting Designers and many others including manufacturers and lighting suppliers, ultimately marshalled by the European producer’s league, Searle. Their collective work resulted in a meeting with the EU’s Energy team that opened a channel of discussion and led to a number of key exemptions being included in the next draft of the regulation. This still left a number of key issues unresolved, and the ALD’s SaveStageLighting team has been working to brief the UK and other governments since, in the run up to the final meeting to discuss further changes to the regulations. Ironically, that meeting took place in Brussels at the same time as the Lighting Lunch! Full details of the very final text of the regulation are not yet known, though it has been suggested that many of the outstanding issues relating to entertainment lighting have been resolved.

“Being surprised with this during the Lighting Lunch was slightly overwhelming,” Rob recalls, “and so while I tried to point out that this was about far more than the work I or Robbie or Paule had done and thanked a few people, I inevitably missed so many out. But all of the work on this during the year has really been a wonderful team effort, with the wider ALD #SSL team of Michael Hulls, Jim Laws, Mark Jonathan, Lucy Carter, Matt Drury, Ian Saunders and Jo Town, with PLASA, in particular Adam Bennette and Mike Wood, with Patrick Woodroffe and his ability to get on the radio and then speak so eloquently about what we do, with the other organisations across Europe, with all of the theatres that supported #SSL, in particular the National Theatre, with everyone at Pearle and the IALD in Brussels, with all of the MPs and MEPs who stood up and supported us, with the big theatre producers in the UK, with Russell Lucas who made sure we spoke to the smaller theatres as well and organised an opportunity to do so and, most importantly, with the 85,000+ people who signed the on-line petition in support of this. Never again do we get to say that no-one understands or appreciates what it is that we do. Thankyou to each and every one.”

#Save Stage Lighting at the Association of Lighting Designers: [link]

A Day Trip to Blackburn by Rob Halliday

Exchange, Blackburn, during set-up

Exchange, Blackburn, during set-up

Rob was delighted to be able to squeeze in a day trip to Blackburn to help an old friend, lighting designer and visual artist Jen Kagan, with her project to use light to bring new life to the Blackburn Cotton Exchange as part of the Blackburn Festival of Light.

Rob has known and worked with Jen since 1993’s production of Piaf starring Elaine Paige, and their work together has included both re-creating existing productions (including David Hersey’s designs for Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Oliver! and Oklahoma!) and creating new designs for show such as Pan in Australia and the 2004 tour of Miss Saigon.

Jen has gone on to a successful career creating events and experiences that use the techniques of lighting and stagecraft to create interactive installation work to tell unique stories.

The Blackburn project sought a light-based scheme to bring the Cotton Exchange building - long subdivided into cinemas, now stripped back to its ceiling and walls but in a rather run-down state - to life, both to remind people of its grandeur and to raise the possibility of it taking on a new life, possibly as a performing arts venue.

Jen’s scheme combined lighting and video projection playing through the dramatic windows that run the length of the building.

With the project supported by local supplier HSL, an assortment of efficient, reliable equipment is in use - an important consideration given that the scheme must run for three months with minimal running costs and maintenance requirements. Control is from an ETC Ion console, which receives MIDI triggers from a series of ‘doorbells’ positioned outside the venue, allowing passers-by to trigger different events within the building; the Ion, in turn, triggers the video playback system, and also starts and stops the lighting at the start and end of each evening using real-time events.

Rob spent a day in Blackburn helping to configure the Ion, setting up a user-friendly magic sheet interface, a cue structure, chases, MIDI triggers and more (as well as focussing a few lights!), and then provided telephone support as the project moved to its opening night.

The project is in action now, and runs through to February 2019.

Blackburn Cotton Exchange Light Project: [link]
Jen Kagan: [link]
HSL: [link]
Blackburn Festival of Light: [link]

It’s Panto Time - Oh Yes It Is! by Rob Halliday


Pantomime season is in full swing across the UK, and Rob has just completed two pantos in two weeks, programming for lighting designer David Howe and producer QDos.

The shows were Aladdin at Glasgow’s beautiful, epic King’s Theatre, and Peter Pan at the wonderfully intimate, focused Theatre Royal in Nottingham - quite different spaces, but both giving their audiences (many discovering theatre for the first time) an intimate connection with the wonderful, uniquely British performance style that is panto.

The rigs for both shows were supplied by HSL in Blackburn, just two of the fifty-plus pantomimes the company is supplying this holiday season. As a result the rigs included quite a mixture of equipment, including Martin Mac Viper Performances and Mac 700 Washes, Mac101 LED wash lights, Vari-Lite VL3000 Spots and more, controlled in both cases from ETC Eos consoles. Best of all: a trick exploding moving light controlled from the lighting console, to great comic effect!

Rob was delighted to work with David Howe once again, having not sat alongside him at a production desk for - well, for some considerable time! They were well supported by production electrician Ed Locke and the wonderful, welcoming crews of both theatres.

Both shows run until early in the new year…. though such is their success that tickets for either are hard to come by.

Aladdin, Glasgow: [link]
Peter Pan, Nottingham: [link]
QDos Entertainment: [link]
David Howe: [link]

Helping The Lighting Programmers Of The Future by Rob Halliday

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Rob has recently completed his autumn season as a visiting tutor at Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, something that has become a regular feature of his autumn over the last few years.

In these appearances, Rob works with students on the College’s Creative Lighting Control course to help them improve both their console programming and their understanding of the way shows are put on stage. The aim is not to improve their ability on any specific lighting console, though of course that happens naturally as part of the sessions. Rather, it is to put them under the kind of pressure lighting programmers encounter in the real world, in a more controlled environment - in the same way that aircraft pilots get to practice in a simulator before being let loose with real passengers.

“This came from a realisation that both I and the course leader Rachel Nicholson had come to, that however well people think they are teaching themselves a console in a room with WYSIWYG and the manual, they subliminally set themselves exercises they already know the answer to, and so come to think they know everything about the desk,” Rob explains. “The problem is, the first time they sit next to a lighting designer who asks them to do something different, they get stuck. That moment in a theatre at the start of tech is not a good moment to get stuck!”

Instead, Rob “plays the role of grumpy lighting designer,” as he describes it, to groups of just two or three students at a time. The exercise uses a real show he has lit in the past - Tommy from the Royal Academy of Music in 2011 - modelled in WYSIWYG. Students have to patch the rig and set-up their showfile just as they would in the real world. Then work starts on lighting the busy opening number of the show - a three-minute, thirty-plus cue sequence including all manner of movement and chases. At first there are pauses and discussions as problems are encountered, but the aim is to get to a speed where you could keep up with a real rehearsal with real performers and a real, impatient director, learning along the ways such niceties as not just plunging the stage into darkness. “The result is that I’ve now lit this sequence more times than any other set of cues I’ve ever done,” Rob notes. “But it’s also fascinating each time to see what trips people up and, through that, to help with their deep understanding of both the way consoles and theatre technical rehearsals function. I think the result is that they go out into the real world better prepared - and certainly the success of some of the people who’ve come out of the course to become highly successful lighting programmers seems to back that up.”

Rose Bruford’s Creative Lighting Control course: [link]

Lighting, The Fringe and the EU by Rob Halliday

NT SSL Light up.jpg

Rob will be part of a free event discussing the future of entertainment lighting generally, and particularly with regard to the EU’s lighting regulations, for those working in fringe and smaller scale theatres.

The workshop, to be held on November 21st, has been organised by theatremaker Russell Lucas, who noticed that no-one from these smaller scale theatres had attended the events on the subject that the Association of Lighting Designers had organised at the National Theatre, despite the potential that the new rules would dramatically impact their ability to keep using their existing lighting equipment.

Rob’s involvement stems from his work with the ALD and the larger entertainment lighting community in trying to understand the impact of these new Ecodesign regulations, and in then working with the EU helping them to understand the issues their rules could have on entertainment lighting and the revisions required to make their effect less damaging.

While these changes have largely been achieved for this round of the regulations, the workshop will look at what is likely to happen as the EU work on the next version of these regulations over the next five years, when it seems they will become much stricter over what kinds of lighting equipment can be used and what can’t. The workshop aims to encourage theatres to start planning - and saving up! - for the changes they will have to make now, rather than waiting for five years then realising they’ve run out of time.

The workshop will take place at the Camden People’s Theatre in London NW1 on Wednesday November 21st from 11am-1pm. The number of places available is limited: book now!

Further information & booking: [link]
Further information about the EU and Entertainment Lighting from the ALD: [link]