Memories of Chahine Yarroyan
Tim Nunn

Memories of Chahine Yavroyan

It is with great sadness the ALD reports the death of Chahine Yavroyan, and our thoughts go out to his friends and loved ones.  


ALD Executive Committee members remember him.  A full obituary can be read here


Johanna Town, ALD Chair

Chahine was a visionary in the way he saw and used light. He was a performer, an artist, and he used his lighting craft to be another performer in the show. I use the word craft - but Chahine broke all the rules of lighting design and in doing so created the most amazing work.


I first met Chahine at the Royal Court Theatre in the 90’s, his lighting plans often made no sense in a conventional way and were often very spars  but he would engage me and my team into his ideas and would start to take us on a journey of experimentation and creativity, which he did with charm, passion and fun.


I personally learnt much from his very individual approach to lighting design, but what I really learnt was how important it was to take ones ideas, however crazy, and to share them with your lighting team. To enable the whole team to create and experiment together, as we can only achieve our ideas with a little help from those around us.


So thank you, your individual quality will be missed.

Rick Fisher, ALD Vice President

I first knew Chahine over 40 years ago. His signature deadpan style and self deprecating but intensely dedicated approach and attention to detail  within the seemingly anarchic  People Show performances was inspiring to a very green techie and is still to this day.  The respect that the rest of the company had for him was apparent and helped me learn how creatively involved technical support (which was how I had viewed it) could be in the creation of theatre.  


His signature style was well developed and never really wavered.  He brought that same fierce eye when he moved into working as a lighting designer but always kept that sense of fun, anarchy and twinkle which I will miss so very much.


Peter Mumford, former ALD Chair

We used to cross paths through the seventies and eighties when he was with The People Show and I with Moving Being - touring the same circuit of mostly invented venues -  crazy days indeed, but wonderful.


Paule Constable, international award winning LD

I first met the gorgeous Armenian in 1987.  In Bologna.  He had the freedom of the City.  His beloved People Show performed there for New Year - but more than that.  Chahine was master of ceremonies.  He threw lights at medieval palaces and created anarchic beauty in the way only he could.  A Gauloise sticking out of his mouth; taking the piss in 5 languages.  mercurial, elegant, funny, wild.

I fell in love.

Over the years many of my favourite acts of madness have had Chahine at the helm.  He lived in a shed.  He was from another world.  He was an artist.  A provocation.  He drove around london with no licence in a beaten up old landcover.  Often lights hung from the rails in the back.  No seat belts.  Safety chains rattling.  

Slowly and tentatively the mainstream realised his genius and he became something more conventional - a lighting designer - but at heart he was so much more than that.  A maker.  An artist.

The thing I will always want to thank him for - was for being so other.  for showing me that the world of theatre was a place for those of us who didn’t fit elsewhere.  He believed and encouraged acts of madness.  Of risk.

His death makes me look at our world and wonder where the next Chahine is.  We need to hold madness in our hearts - to hold hands and take risks together.  With a personality like his leaving us we are left in a slightly duller world.  Don’t let it become too dull.  

If any of you knew and loved him then do something bonkers today - keep taking risks and do it at least once a day in his name.

Chahine - I am going to miss you.


Ben Payne, ALD Meetings Team

I worked with Chahine in the dance world. He was just simply brilliant and a total joy to work with. Nothing was ever a hassle and everything was just so easy. His designs were simple but elegant. Nothing over the top. Nothing fancy. Just the light doing the job it needed to and just what was needed to evoke the right moment. From a technical point of view he made working with him a joy. Understanding the whole process of creating some (at times challenging) pieces of work Chahine just took any situation thrown at him with grace and a calmness that many could learn from. 

Always to be found sat at the back of any theatre with trusty briefcase in tow and a well travelled trilby hat and waistcoat patiently waiting for his moment to create beautiful lighting I will remember Chahine with the total respect for a man who was quite fantastic (and lovely at the same time) at his art.