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Kickstarter Launched 28 November 2023
For the last eight years, lighting designer and theatre consultant Richard Pilbrow has been working on a book about Britain’s National Theatre – the company, and their remarkable building on the south bank of London’s River Thames.
This is a story Richard is uniquely placed to tell. In 1963, age thirty, he was chosen by Laurence Olivier, the National’s founding artistic director, to be the company’s lighting designer. This put him in the perfect place at the perfect time as plans were formulated for new National Theatre building. Richard became the National’s theatre consultant, helping define not just an innovative technical infrastructure, but even the very shape of the building itself.
However, he was never quite satisfied with the National’s two big theatres, the open stage Olivier and pros-arch Lyttelton, though at the time he couldn’t quite explain why. He has spent much of his working life since trying to figure that out. The book began as an attempt to explain what he’d learnt…
But along the way the book blossomed into something wonderfully more than that. It has become unique record of how the founding of the National Theatre company, the deliberations of the great-and-good of British theatre of the day of what the building should be, the struggles of the architect Denys Lasdun to interpret their suggestions, the creation of the buildings remarkable technical facilities, the challenges of getting that innovative technology working and the building open – and then an overview of the history of the National since, including pictures of many of the key productions to take to its stages, up to and through the Covid pandemic.
It is a remarkable work, more than 500 pages, lavishly illustrated and fascinating whether your interests are architecture, performance, entertainment technology, theatre design or just a great story. It contains not just Richard’s voice, but the voices of many other theatre practitioners on-stage and off who have been part of the National’s history.
The book is called A Sense of Theatre, and it will be available in April 2024.
Keen readers will note that CX recently ran a review of one Richard’s earlier publications, Stage Lighting Design – The Art, the Craft, the Life, citing “It could be said to be the quintessential book on stage lighting design”, with reviewer Kurtis Hammer also describing it as “A must-have in any lighting designer’s library.” You can find the review here: https://www.cxnetwork.com.au/stage-lighting-design/
A Sense of Theatre is being supported by some of the wonderful companies in our industry, But to allow anyone interested to pre-order the book, or just support the project, or even become featured inside the book, Richard and his co-publishers in the venture, his son Fred Pilbrow, and theatre lighting designer and writer Rob Halliday, have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project.
You can find it here:
Via this page you can pre-pre-order the book (at a special introductory price for the next few days), or just contribute to the project, or actually become part of the book, with your name included on the supporter’s page.
The Kickstarter runs until 27th December 2023.
Sign up now and be amongst the very first to read this remarkable tale.
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