John Wildgoose

ALD statement to The Stage in response to The Globe’s news piece on lighting Black and Asian actors

Lighting designers have successfully been lighting Shakespeare’s plays for decades – plays which not only include Black and Asian actors, but pale-skinned actors too, alongside the many characters Shakespeare included in his works, such as donkeys and fairy kings. It is the lighting designer’s job to light plays to their best advantage. Lighting sets the tone of the performance, creates a space, bringing atmosphere and shape to the stage, it keeps the audience focused on the performance.

The ALD’s Chair, Johanna Town, says, “I find this shocking coming from The Globe – a theatre that has made the choice to remove lighting from its productions. The Globe stage is illuminated simply to recreate the flat light of daylight.”

She continues, “Choosing the right light and colour for that light is not dependent on the diversity of the cast but dependent simply on the cast. There are so many more issues than skin tone! The colour of an actor’s hair, or sometimes worse: no hair; a beard or deep-set eyes or even bushy eyebrows must all be accounted for. As a lighting designer every feature is equally noted and is as important as the set and costumes.”

Rick Fisher adds, “While The Globe has understandably moved on from Shakespeare’s times in terms of casting diversity, that is not the case with certain other aspects of theatre production at The Globe, having dismissed its recently assembled lighting team. I agree that The Globe’s policy of ‘non’ lighting could put all the actors at a disadvantage including BAME actors, but that seems to be what The Globe uniquely desires.”

This is not simply a BAME issue. Lighting designer, Declan Randall, states, “As someone who "grew up" and cut his teeth lighting shows with casts of mixed race, I am as perplexed and surprised by this broad strokes statement. The range of skin tones in a mixed race or an all-black theatre company, is generally huge and diverse – just as it is anywhere – and cannot really be lumped into one broad category.”

The question needs to be asked of Dr Farah Karim-Cooper and indeed The Globe, ‘What do think lighting designers do, because this piece reflects only a very limited, almost uneducated, view of the craft of lighting design?'


The original story, printed in the The Telegraph, can be read here