Visitors: interview with the Lighting Designer

We’ve caught up with Simon Gethin Thomas, the man behind the lighting design of Visitors.

Can you talk us through the process of what you do after you first read a script that you will be working on? 

The first few steps after reading a script will be to pin-point your objectives for the piece – figuring out the kind of emotional response you want to elicit but also the functional; what to show, highlight or hide.

“Light is an anchor for several of the memories that Edie and Arthur share.”

What were the first things that struck you about Visitors?

Edie and Arthur actually make nearly a dozen references to light throughout the course of the play – it’s an anchor for several of the memories they share. It seemed important to give those memories an outlet when opportunity arose to be a little more abstract. The other side of it was the rural setting, which called for a level naturalism to pull the audience deeper into the story and surroundings.

Has anything changed in your design because of the transfer to the Bush?

The transfer has definitely allowed us to be more ambitious, my plan appears to have grown threefold. We’ve shifted focus a little – away from the design concept we worked out as a touring practicality and instead we’re bringing out elements which are most true to the environment.

When you sit and watch a show that you have been part of do you spend the whole time focusing on your design?  

It will have my attention during lighting transitions in order to assess fades and states, making sure everything is still working for the piece, but there’s usually plenty of time to appreciate all the other facets!

When you sit and watch a show that you haven’t been part of do you spend the whole time focusing on its lighting? 

I’ll probably browse the lighting rig whilst seated in pre-state but when the curtain’s up I prefer to take it in as it comes.

What would your advice to someone who wants to become a lighting designer be? 

Give careful consideration to where you would like to be based. An important aspect of starting out as a creative is finding like-minded individuals who you enjoy working with – your location will likely play a part in this.


Visitors runs at the Bush until 10 January. To read more about the play click here.

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