Rob has been programming the lighting for other designers - acting as the interface between the designer’s vision and the technology of the lights and lighting console - since 1994.
Rob was by no means the first Vari-Lite or Moving Light Programmer. However, he did pioneer the approach of one person taking control of the entire rig, not just the moving lights, and thinks (though he can’t quite prove) that he was the first to adopt the term ‘Lighting Programmer’ to describe this work. This is now the standard job title for this role and the standard way of working in the UK and across many parts of the world - and whole new career option for many people working in theatre.
Rob began working in this area during an important transitional phase, when those wanting to use moving lights were no longer required to use a particular type of console to control a particular manufacturer’s moving lights. He was an early adopter of Strand’s 500-series range of consoles, seeing that they offered the ability to cope with mixed rigs of moving and conventional lights, and working with the manufacturer to expand the functionality of the console to cope with the demands of ever-more complex shows. For a long time, Rob's programming on one of these consoles ran the biggest rig on a Broadway show - the 2006 production of Mary Poppins. More recently, Rob has programmed shows on both grandMA2 and ETC Eos consoles, most of his theatre work now being on the latter.
Since the Lighting Programmer often ends up knowing a great deal about the hows and whys of a show’s lighting, Rob’s role sometimes now expands to include the role of Associate Lighting Designer as well as Lighting Programmer, particularly when re-creating shows in new productions.
Rob is honoured to have worked as the programmer for a collection of remarkable lighting designers on many amazing shows all over the world, including David Hersey, Neil Austin, Ken Billington, Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Rick Fisher, Howard Hudson, Peter Kaczorowski, Jenny Kagan, Richard Pilbrow, John A Williams, Patrick Woodroffe and others. He has been privileged to sit alongside and to learn from all of them.
The shows have been many and varied, but highlights include the Tony Award-winning Red in New York, Les Misérables around the world including the Tenth Anniversary concert, Equus in London and New York, the London debut of Ragtime, Macbeth in Manchester and New York, all the way back to Oliver! at the London Palladium.
As always, he’s still delighted to take on the challenge of a new show as programmer.