Alumni Spotlight: Adam King

In our latest Alumni Spotlight, Lighting Designer Adam King discusses his journey into the profession, creative process and favourite projects.

How did you get into Technical Theatre?

I remember seeing Starlight Express many years ago in London and just being blown away by it all technically.  When I returned to school I switched to doing Lighting in my drama class. Thankfully I had a really supportive teacher who allowed me to do this rather than acting. I then began to try and get as much experience as I could, even becoming the Technical at the college that I was attending. This then lead me onto applying for drama schools and then eventually Mountview.

What are your favourite memories from your time at Mountview?

The shows and the people. We were ambitious with what we did and what we could achieve in some spaces. I remember for one show we transformed Mountview’s small studio into a roller skating rink for a production of The Rink. [I enjoyed] the thought that we could create these magical transformative spaces for people.

Tell us about your highlights/favourite projects from the past year.

Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch (Southwark Playhouse)

Tricky one as there are many. Being part of the inaugural season at Lavender Theatre, and literally seeing a theatre being created in a lavender field and being able to light the shows with beautiful sunsets. Mountview’s 9 to 5 was also a favourite from last year, being given the challenge of not using any coloured light. It allowed me to explore different ways to light a show with angles and shapes to create locations. I love a challenge like this; doing something new and different. Finally ending the year with Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula The Sea Witch at Southwark Playhouse Elephant. Such a fun show with an incredible and supportive creative team.

How have you found returning to Mountview to work as a Lighting Designer?

It’s been fun to be back. Mountview are really pushing the boundaries on their shows creatively which gives both Production and Performance students the best insight into what the industry can actually be like. The standard of shows seems to just keep improving and it’s great to see.

Oh What a Lovely War (Mountview)

Can you talk us through the stages of designing the lighting for a show?

I start with reading the script and highlighting anything that can relate to lighting in any way (location/time of day/mood) and also think about how the script has made me feel. Then I usually have a meeting with the Director to see what their vision is for the show and how they want to approach it. This is usually followed by a white card meeting, where you can chat to the Designer and talk through things that you think will work for lighting and where adjustments can still be made to the set. This part of the process is really vital because sometimes you can bargain for a  bit more space here or there to get a much better lighting shot through the set. We then go away and look at what kit we have to use and how best to utilise that in the space we are in. Following this we have a rough plan that we can then start to build from. Trips to rehearsals to see run throughs can often mean additions of specials [lights that are used for a specific, unique purpose] etc. to this plan. Then we get into the venue to see the set in its full glory for the first time.  Here we also sometimes make some changes/additions that you can’t foresee until you are in the venue. Then we are into tech and the fun part for us, although it can also be the stressful part as you often have a lot to do with not enough time, but that’s where we build our design. We will make a few changes then in dress rehearsals when we see it all together but then we leave the show in the capable hands of the crew to run.

Flowers for Mrs Harris (Riverside Studios)

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Enjoy it and it’s ok to take some time off now and then. When you love what you do it’s easy to say yes to everything and even easier to burn yourself out. We work long hours so it’s important to take time for yourself. You’ve worked hard so you deserve that break.

What’s next for you?

Next up, I’m heading out on the UK tour of Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch.