Richard Pilbrow

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Richard Pilbrow (born 28 April 1933 in Beckenham, Kent, England) is an internationally renowned stage lighting designer, author, theatre design consultant, and theatrical producer, film producer and television producer. He was the first British lighting designer to light a Broadway musical on the Broadway stage with the musical Zorba.[1]

In the 1950s, Pilbrow entered the Central School of Speech and Drama in London as a stage management student after serving two years in the Royal Air Force.[2]

In 1957, Pilbrow co-founded the lighting rental company Theatre Projects with Bryan Kendall, which expanded to include a production company in 1963 to produce and mount the London production of A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum with set designer Tony Walton and American Producer Hal Prince. In 1963 Pilbrow became lighting director to Laurence Olivier for the National Theatre at Chichester and the Old Vic Theatre. From 1966 he joined the National Theatre Building Committee and the following year was appointed theatre consultant to the new National Theatre on the South Bank. He was responsible for the stage design, backstage planning and all the performance equipment design (with Richard Brett) of the Olivier and Lyttelton Theatres. Theatre Projects Consultants, with Iain Mackintosh, was responsible for the design of the Cottesloe (now Dorfman) Theatre. Theatre Projects Consultants, which designs theatres and performing arts buildings, has gone on to design world-renowned spaces such as the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, on which he wrote a book.[1] Pilbrow is now chairman Emeritus of the firm.[3][4]

Pilbrow worked on Broadway for the first time as the projection designer, with lighting designer Jean Rosenthal of Prince's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. A year later, his second projection assignment on Broadway with Golden Boy allowed him to work with lighting designer Tharon Musser. Also in 1964, Pilbrow and Robert Ornbo were the first English lighting designers to ever be invited to join the United Scenic Artists. Pilbrow went on to light eleven Broadway shows—earning Tony nominations for Four Baboons Adoring the Sun and The Life.

In 1970, he published the book Stage Lighting Design: The Art, The Craft, The Life which is still a standard textbook in lighting programs in both America and Britain. A new edition of the book was published in September 2008. In 2011 his autobiographical account "A Theatre Project — A Backstage Story" was published.

In 1974 he produced the film Swallows and Amazons.

Pillbrow was the lighting designer for the 2008 Jill Santoriello musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway.[5] He won the 1995 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for Show Boat and was nominated for the same award for A Tale of Two Cities in 2009.

Pilbrow is a joint founder in the Association of British Theatre Technicians, Society of Theatre Consultants, The Society of British Theatre Designers, and the Association of Lighting Designers. Pilbrow served two terms on the United States Institute for Theatre Technology's (USITT) Directors at Large and was also elected a Fellow of the Institute in 2001. He is a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts and London's Central School of Speech and Drama.



  • Stage Lighting (1970)[8]
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall: The Backstage Story (2003)[9]
  • Stage Lighting Design: The Art, The Craft, The Life (1997 & 2008)[10]
  • A Theatre Project (2011)[11]

Broadway Lighting Design credits[edit]

  • A Tale of Two Cities (2008)
  • Our Town (2002)
  • The Life (1997)
  • Show Boat (1994)
  • Tango Pasión (1993)
  • Four Baboons Adoring the Sun (1992)
  • Shelter (1973)
  • The Rothschilds (1970)
  • Zorba (1968)
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1967)
  • Golden Boy (1964)[6]

Theatre Projects Consultants: theatre design consulting projects of note[edit]

Partial list of projects.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c "Richard Pilbrow, Founder and Chairman Emeritus". Theatre Projects Consultants. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c "Richard Pilbrow, biography". 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  5. ^ [1],, 23 July 2008
  6. ^ a b c d e
  7. ^ "USITT Distinguished Achievement Awards". United States Institute for Theatre Technology. Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  8. ^ Pibrow, Richard (1970). Stage lighting. New York : Drama Book Specialists. ISBN 978-0-89676-005-9. 
  9. ^ Pibrow, Richard (2003). Walt Disney Concert Hall: The Backstage Story. Entertainment Technology. ISBN 1-904031-23-4. 
  10. ^ Pibrow, Richard (2008). Stage Lighting Design: the Art, the Craft, the Life. New York : By Design Press. ISBN 0-89676-235-1. 
  11. ^ Pibrow, Richard (2011). A Theatre Project. New York : Plaza Media. ISBN 978-0-9834796-0-4. 

External links[edit]