GETTING TO KNOW: ANTONY HATELEY

Antony Hateley is a Lighting Designer until recently based in London, working in the dance and theatre industry, his work having featured both nationally and internationally. Now based in the ACT he trained in fine art at University of Central England specialising in film and sculpture. A selection of the artists and organisations Antony has previously worked for includes Rambert, Ivan Putrov, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Dance Art Foundation, London College of Fashion, Viviana Durante Company, Botis Seva, Martin Creed, Van Huynh Company, Breakin’ Convention, East London Dance, Akademi, Boy Blue Entertainment, Company Decalage and Avant Garde Dance. Through organisations in the UK such as Sadler’s Wells Theatre, East London Dance and Breakin’ Convention, Antony has been involved in many artistic development programs providing nurture and support for new and emerging artists. In addition to lighting design Antony provides production management for both national and international touring productions.

THE STREET TALKED TO ANTONY HATELEY IN THE LEAD UP TO THE OPENING OF TWENTY MINUTES WITH THE DEVIL.

WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN LIGHTING?

I always had a fascination with the proscenium-esque presentation of something ever since I was little. My father worked in a department store in the UK which every year would feature a Christmas grotto with lights, moving scenery and music. He would take me and my sister early in the morning before the store opened and switch it all on just for us which was pretty magical. I’m sure what I do now could be traced back to those memories. When I studied fine art at uni my work tended to be presented in a similar way: the viewer would be invited to sit inside a miniature auditorium-for-one, or view the work through some voyeuristic apparatus. It wasn’t until I started helping out at a local theatre and was given free rein to fiddle around with the lights that everything clicked and I discovered lighting gave me the same thrill I had from those childhood memories. I guess I’m just a big kid.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT INNOVATION IN LIGHTING DESIGN?

That’s a tough one because there have been many giant leaps forward over the last 100 years. To narrow all those advancements down to their most significant is tricky! I guess a big one would have been the progression from limelight to electric lighting, or from footlights to overhead lights. Some might argue that the moving light or LED technology should earn the title. For me I’d say the greatest innovation would be how lighting design has become recognised as an art form in its own right. For a long time the lighting was very much an afterthought and not much consideration was given to it. There was no such profession as Lighting Designer 40 years ago which is incredible considering it’s now something studied at university level.

HOW DO YOU USE LIGHT AS A DESIGN TOOL?

I find out as much as I can about the production: the script, the choreography, the costumes, the set and basically anything that feeds into it. After which there are usually some small yet significant clues which give me something tangible to build from. I try to keep focused on the narrative and support it as best I can. It’s a process of constantly interpreting and responding to what’s happening on stage in a cohesive way so whatever the lighting does is justified by the action. It’s generally a fairly visceral process underpinned by a bit of objective knowledge: how light behaves, which lights do what, how to make use of colour and so on.

HOW DID YOU RESPOND TO THE SCRIPT FOR TWENTY MINUTES WITH THE DEVIL?

I thought the premise sounded intriguing even before I’d read it. The idea of two highway cops and a drug lord all stuck in a motel room together is a fairly potent backdrop for a story. When I read the script the first time It felt quite pacy even though most of the action takes place in the same room. It could so easily have just been three people in a room for ninety minutes which I guess is testament to how good the writing is. From a lighting perspective I was pretty charged by the wealth of references and symbolism woven in to the script. It offers up lots of avenues to explore and straight away after reading it I began considering how to approach this or that moment. The amazing set by Imogen Keen has also opened a richness of possibilities for the lighting, so between the script and the set as LD I’ve been well catered for.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE IDEAS YOU HAVE DEVELOPED FOR THE LIGHTING DESIGN OF TWENTY MINUTES WITH THE DEVIL?

The main objective has been to create something that looks on one hand mundane and everyday, and then squeeze in lots of other-worldly moments that are a departure from the mundane. It’s about that contrast. The ideas have been driven by the challenge of ‘how can we go somewhere radically different from this ordinary moment and then come back again?’ The audience should feel jarred and maybe not exhausted but certainly exhilarated by the experience, as if they’ve been scooped up and dropped somewhere else momentarily. There are various references to death and folklore throughout the script that have have their own visual representations, some peripheral and some explicit. Moments of internal dialogue in the script have also helped shape the imagery and take things into the more ethereal. All in all these departures from reality are hidden away out of view. The lighting is a bit like a Swiss Army knife in that respect.

LIGHT IS OFTEN THE LAST LAYER TO BE ADDED TO A PRODUCTION. HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR VISION THROUGH THE REHEARSAL PROCESS?

First off I read the script to get a feel for the work, then pencil in some potential lighting changes, speak to director and set designer and throw a preliminary plan together. As things become clearer and the work gets more familiar the lighting ideas and corresponding plan are gradually refined until things reach a tipping point and my instincts tell me everything I need is in place. Throughout this honing process, conversations are constantly happening amongst the creative team which help me to keep track of any changes I need to make, and help add in all the small detail which happens towards the end of the process, after which a final plan is good to go. I guess I’d say the process begins with broad brushstrokes and is finished with small ones.

HOW DO YOU WORK IN REHEARSALS VERSUS PRODUCTION WEEK?

Rehearsals and production week require two very different hats. Rehearsals are about working out small details and answering questions so I don’t have to worry about them later during production week. Things like where do performers stand at particular moments, and what is the relationship between the set and the narrative so I know where the light should go or where it should be coming from. You can never put every conundrum to bed before production week but by using the rehearsal time well you can at least reduce the risk of any nasty surprises! Production week is a bit more all-consuming so I usually do my best to unburden my mind by reducing any outside responsibilities. It’s a strange mixture of stress and elation, and hopefully in that order!

YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN MANY ARTISTIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS FOR NEW AND EMERGING ARTISTS IN THE UK. TELL US MORE.

Sadler’s Wells theatre in London piloted a mentoring platform around 2010 through one of their in-house organisations which had a format of nurturing, developing and showcasing the work of young choreographers who were at a pivotal point in their careers. I had done a lot of work for Sadler’s previously so they invited me onboard to work alongside the artists as an interface to help them develop lighting relevant to their work. Around the same time an organisation called East London Dance ran a similar program which I also became involved in. Another Sadler’s in house project called Wildcard was launched in 2012 which for me had a similar but more involved remit. The artists tended to be from the international contemporary dance circuit and already had some artistic weight behind them. The artists were given a longer residency in which to devise work during which time I worked closely with them to develop the lighting, and the at end of the residency there was fully ticketed, programmed, marketed performance supported by Sadler’s Wells. I lost count of how many artists I worked with in this way over the years but it was quite a revolving door. Many of them have since become successful so I’m planning to call in a few favours if my career ever nosedives lol.

WHATS INSPIRING YOU CREATIVELY AT THE MOMENT?

My 6 year old daughter is becoming quite the prolific artist. Immediately after she’s up in the morning she’s doodling away and there’s usually a stack of drawings next to her before I’ve even had my first coffee. I have no idea where she gets the ideas for her drawings but every one has a dense background story which she’s able to reel off effortlessly. I try to be inspired by it and not envy it! I’m sure it has something to do with the unfettered mind of a child, something an adult only has the luxury of in fleeting moments, but its pretty awe inspiring to watch. From experiencing this I’ve come to realise that to get the best from the creative process one almost has to think in the same non-discriminatory way and just let it all flow, then somewhere amongst all that output lurks the occasional gem.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND WATCHING?

I don’t really watch TV but I do like to read. I’m currently reading ‘Boy on Fire’ by Mark Mordue about the young Nick Cave which documents the pre-Bad Seeds part of his life. The author originally intended to chronicle everything up to the present but there was apparently so much source material regarding Nick Cave’s youth he eventually stopped gathering content and just went with what he’d got. There are other books that critique his work or describe the debauched lifestyle of his past but this has quite a refreshing approach in that It gives an insight into why Nick Cave is who he is. I was a tad disappointed at first when I realised the book wasn’t going to touch upon the bleakness of his wild years but the more I’ve got into it the more its drawn me in. I’ve heard Nick Cave discuss memories before in interviews but I didn’t really get just how significant the vignettes of his youth are to him, or how much they inform his songwriting until reading this book.

TWENTY MINUTES WITH THE DEVIL WORLD PREMIERE SEASON 18 – 25 JUNE 2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s