"Backstage" from Italy

Translated from the Italian in Backstage: The Magazine of Show Business 5 October 2011.

Richard Pilbrow is one of the backstage world of powerful, influential characters; historic, award-winning USITT, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Dora Award, NAACP, Theatre Crafts International Lighting Product of the Year, United States Institute for Theatre Technology, ABTT, Lighting Dimension Magazine, The Wally Russell Foundation, Knight of Illumination and more. Co-founder of associations such as the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT), and the Society of British Theatre Consultants (STC), and the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD) Member and President of ALD, he has always been an innovator and a communicator.

His 55-year career, 54 of which were with Theatre Projects, his company, headlines also in his auto-biography. Theatre Projects, founded as a company to hire and install equipment for the lighting of a show, has become one of the major consulting firms in the world, with over 1200 projects in 70 countries around the world.

Pilbrow was chosen by Laurence Olivier as a consultant for the National Theatre of Great Britain. He was also a consultant to the Barbican Theatre, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and many other buildings from the United States to China and the Middle East. Among the works of Theatre Project, to name a few: the Walt Disney Music Hall [in Los Angeles], the Oslo Opera House, and the modern and innovative Wyly Theatre. [Dallas Texas]

His autobiography; this book, is our part of theater history. He has created and led the evolution of stagecraft and the dawn of illumination. First of all, for having written one of the bibles of theatrical lighting: Stage Lighting, 1971, which later became Stage Lighting: The Art, The Craft, The Life, 1997.

A Backstage Adventure cites as the subtitle: triumph, disaster and renewal that has changed stage lighting, sound and the form of theater. The book is a strange beast, part autobiography, part memoir, part social history. The 486 pages are packed with fascinating stories, it is a great conversation, with personal insights and asides that make reading fun and light, not less, dotted with over 500 illustrations. Pilbrow, with a simple style of writing, easily understood, tells a lifetime of anecdotes, stories and a rich anthology of his life in the theater comprehensible only to those living in and part of theatre. An added plus to the publication is the interaction of many of his collaborators, offering their opinions and perspectives on their professional paths and their common vision. Not only is the story told by Richard Pilbrow, but there are many intersections with anecdotes and curiosities of the productions in which he has participated in the long course of years, with stories by Tony Walton, Robert Ornbo, David Collison, Jean Rosenthal and Tharon Musser, Boris Aronson. and Hal Prince, beyond the lengthy and fruitful collaboration with Sir Laurence Olivier.

Warning: you will not find information on spotlights or lighting design, far from it: the book tells of the good things and the bad things in showbiz since 1957; a book that is unexpected and necessary. 

© Richard Pilbrow   e: rplight@atheatreproject.com      E: lsi@PLASA.ORG       WWW.lightiing&soundamerica.com