I am writing to you as the president of the Association of Lighting Designers, and as the Founder of Theatre Projects, an international theatre design company that for 60 years has been at the forefront of British theatre technology, responsible for the stage design of the National Theatre, and for over 1,500 theatre projects in 80 counties.
I have been a lighting designer for over 60 years. British theatre now faces an extraordinary crisis. On Saturday 7 May consultation on an amazing EU draft regulation – the Energy Directorate’s Eco-design Working Plan 2016-19 – will close. If confirmed, in 2020 virtually all stage lighting equipment used throughout the British Theatre and entertainment industry will be rendered obsolete and the lamps within that create the light be unobtainable.
British theatre and British lighting design leads the world. This month alone on Broadway, two productions, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, lit by Neil Austin, and Angels in America, lit by Paule Constable, have attracted universal critical acclaim.
This draft regulation not only bans incandescent lamps, but virtually all the discharge and LED light sources that have been developed in recent years to reduce the theatre’s carbon footprint. This is a very real crisis. No existing entertainment lighting equipment presently meets the new theoretical power requirement.
If, in 18 months, such equipment were to be invented – an aim apparently pushing beyond the boundaries of physics today – it would certainly cost as much as five to 10 times the equipment it replaces. This is, therefore, a potential financial disaster at best, and an artistic and practical catastrophe for every theatre in the land.