A graduate of the Association of Lighting Designers’ Lumière Scheme, Jason Addison talks to Giverny Masso about working with Matt Clutterham and why he feels it’s important to be open to taking on other jobs in theatre…
How did you get into lighting design?
I broke into it working as a technician. I toured with shows as their technical manager, but I was also asked to do the lighting on smaller shows. I started out with small companies, then I did cruise ships for a while, where I was responsible for the lighting on board. Then I was at Hull Truck Theatre for five years as a technician, and I designed some of the youth theatre shows. When I left, I saw the Lumière Scheme advertised. I wanted to do lighting design full-time, so I applied and spent six months at Chichester Festival Theatre and six months working with different designers.
What experiences have helped your career development?
I worked with Matt Clutterham on a couple of pantomimes at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre and the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. That led me to design my own pantomimes – I’ve actually been nominated for best lighting design in the Pantomime Awards for Beauty and the Beast. I also got to work with Paule Constable on Follies at the National in London, which is somewhere I never thought I’d be able to work, and at the Royal Opera House with Lucy Carter. But the shows I did as a technician have all fed in and helped along the way with honing my skills.
What other work do you take on if you’re not doing a lighting design job?
I’m a lighting designer, but I’ve also got bills to pay. If I can learn something by doing a bit of casual stuff as well, it’s no bad thing. Some people in the industry have an issue with it – they think if you’re a designer, you should be seen to be doing that, and not working on casual stuff. The way I look at it, there are still bills to pay, it’s still in the industry, and if I’m working on a big show I can look at other things like how they have rigged the lights. I can get ideas and learn from it.
What is your advice for someone starting out in lighting design?
Get involved in as much as you possibly can, because you’ll learn something from every show. I never went to drama school, so I learned it all on the job. When I started out, I was asking people if I could help them doing get-ins and get-outs, and I did do quite a bit for free. This was mainly around Lincoln where I lived at home, so it didn’t have any costs to it really, but it got me on the ladder. Read as much as you can as well. I don’t think anything replaces world experience, but you can certainly help yourself by reading loads of books. I started out in an amdram group, and there are still lots of opportunities to experiment.
Training: Association of Lighting Designers’ Lumière Scheme (2018-19)
First professional role: Touring with Chapterhouse Theatre Company as a technician and production assistant for Romeo and Juliet (2005)
Agent: Chris Davis Management
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