So you want my arts job: Lighting designer

To work well as a lighting designer you need to be able to pick up on the emotional cues of the work you’re watching, says Richard Vabre.

Richard Vabre is a freelance Lighting Designer for live performance. He is based in Melbourne and has almost 20 years’ experience designing across all modes of live performance including theatre, opera, dance, experiential installation and circus. Vabre has won five Green Room Awards, including the John Truscott Prize for Excellence in Design, and has been nominated for a further 10 Green Room Awards.

I tell them I’m a Curator of Darkness. No, not really. I say I design the lighting for live performance. People tend not to ask too many questions after that. I think the detail of my job eludes most of my family and friends to be honest – it’s a bit of a black box for them.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts