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Knight of Illumination Awards: The Recognitions for Theatre, TV and Stage LDs

The very first edition of the KNIGHT OF ILLUMINATION AWARDS was held on Wednesday June 11th 2008 in London. They are the only Awards exclusively dedicated to Lighting Designers, as the result of an idea launched by Clay Paky and organised by the Italian firm in collaboration with STLD and ALD.

The Awards were hosted by the ABTT Annual Award Dinner 2008, the traditional gala of the ABTT Theatre Show (that celebrated it’s 30th anniversary this year), where technicians, operators and managers of the Theatre world gather each year. Over 230 professionals attended the event at the sumptuous Assembly Hall, one of the most prestigious halls at Church House, which was tastefully lit and coloured for the occasion by Clay Paky Alpha fixtures.

The awards were voted and assigned by a group of professionals, who also operate in the specific categories of the contest, selected and coordinated entirely by STLD and ALD, whose professional standards guaranteed the credibility and the reliability of the evaluations.

The evening was a success, as Simon Garrett (ABTT) confirms: ” We were delighted to host the inaugural Knights of the Illumination Awards and felt that it seamlessly complemented our own ABTT annual awards. It highlighted the diverse potential of lighting technology through application specific projects. It was great to see so many illustrious Lighting Designers together in one room.”

Bernie Davis and Rick Fisher, respectively representing the category associations STLD and ALD, and Durham Marenghi (representing the “Rock” section) confirm the brilliant outcome of the event, that attracted the attention of the media and the many guests who attended.

The 11 winners – 4 for the Theatre, 4 for the TV, 2 for the Rock and 1 lifetime recognition award – all received the same prestigious trophy, a sword which is the original reproduction of what the medieval knights used to use, a sword that symbolizes the weapon that the LDs use to defend their values of integrity and professionalism in the world in which they operate. More than a prize, it was more like an investiture, and it is a pleasure to see that two of the ladies running for a nomination have been awarded!

Here therefore are the winners for each category:


Dave Davey for Dancing on Ice
Judges comments: “The lighting gave this huge production quality and style that changed effortlessly to suit each performance. The use of projection on the ice is nothing short of sensational.”

Ben Smithard for Cranford
Judges comments: “A flawless period feel was never over dramatised. Excellent interpretation of candle-light and daylight interiors and night-time exteriors alike left this drama subtle and yet sculptured.”

Nigel Catmur for Mercury Music Prize
Judges comments: “A beautifully crafted design that matched the mood to the range of music that made the viewer feel part of the event, and offered good camera shots wherever they looked.”

Al Gurdon for Royal Variety Performance
Judges comments: “The lighting demonstrated a strong collaboration with the design that produced an ambitious range of looks within a limited rehearsal period.”


Jonny Gaskell for Groove Armada
Judges comments: “Big, bouncy dance show, lots of VersaTUBEs, moving lights and high energy. Great use of colours and movement and a show totally appropriate to the artist… dynamic, classy, innovative design bounces off the energy of the music with a lot of joie de vivre and makes great use of a combination of video display modules with LED fixtures deployed as part-video, part-lighting backdrop – a non-stop multimedia projection show for the 21st century.”

Richard Larkum for Kaiser Chiefs
The Judges said “Another big rock style stage, crowned with 5 portrait screens of video giving it a completely different look and edge. Lots of energy, colour and excitement…This seems to have been a complex and well thought out piece of programming, the lighting just felt as though it really was all about the band – you could honestly feel the relationship dynamic between designer and client…. very much a show to jump about to!”


Lucy Carter for Chroma at the Royal Opera House and her work with Random Dance. Her work was remarkable for the quality of light that added so much to the staging.

Paul Pyant for Minotaur at the Royal Opera House (also just as easily nominated for Lord of the Rings, musical and Speed the Plow and Major Barbara, plays)

Paule Constable for Saint Joan at the NT where her work was painterly and apropos and helped to liberate the play with its design. The lighting re-imagined to startling effect how the Olivier could be used. There were also very favourable mentions of her work on War Horse at the NT and Othello at the Donmar

Neil Austin for Parade at the Donmar. Where he delineated space on a unit set creating different tone and atmosphere for each setting (also just as easily awarded for  Emperor Jones and Philistines, plays)


The lifetime recognition award went to John Watt, Lighting Designer, journalist and highly versatile presenter, someone very well known and respected in the field.