What do you do on a daily basis?
I am responsible for anything to do with lights and special effects during a performance. That means every one of the more than 600 lights of the stage, as well as any video projections and smoke. I plan their implementation according to the lighting designer’s wishes and supervise their setup and programming for all rehearsals and performances.
Supervision involves watching the technical part of a performance from the audience’s perspective. If a particular light does not work, for example, the production doesn’t look the way it should. In those situations you must react fast and fix the problem.
I sit in a control room behind the auditorium. The lighting operator who programs the lights sits next to me, and I communicate via an earpiece with the stage director and stage manager on the side and back stages.
There are three other lighting supervisors at the Opera House besides me, and we divide the productions for which we are responsible between us. In season 2019–2020 I am in charge of Pippi Longstocking, La Bayadère, and COW. A lighting supervisor also has team leader duties.
How did you end up working at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet?
I have worked on theatre lighting ever since I was young. I’m originally from London, where my upper secondary school had a strong emphasis on dramatic arts. I spent a couple of years studying acting, but at the age of 18 I realised I’d rather work on stage lighting technology. I went to study Lighting Design at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. After finishing my degree I ran my own sound and lighting company until moving to Finland for family reasons.
The reason I applied to work at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet was that they are the largest and busiest stage in FInland and they have English as their working language. I started here as a stage technician in 2014. In 2016, I took up the role of a lighting assistant, and since August 2019 I have been substituting my colleague as a lighting supervisor. I really enjoy working here.