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Meet Justin Farndale, Course Leader, BA Creative Technical Theatre

Image projection map of Justin Ferndale's face
Image projection map of Justin Ferndale's face
Justin Farndale, Justin Ferndale's work
BA (Hons) Creative Technical Theatre, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Justin Farndale
Written by
Tyrone Huggins
Published date
02 December 2020

BA Creative Technical Theatre is a new course at Wimbledon that teaches technical design techniques for theatre and live events.

Course Leader Justin Farndale began his career in lighting design before moving into production and technical management, eventually specialising in combining lighting design with digital media. He has worked in Europe and London’s West End.

We spoke to him to find out what makes this course so relevant to the future of the industry right now.

Green stage lighting display and performer
Justin Farndale's work - Credit: Justin Farndale Caption

Can you tell us about your background and career so far?

I trained in lighting design and then worked in lighting for theatre, circus and events.

After touring around Europe, I worked in London’s West End theatres for 5 years including the London Palladium, Her Majesty's and the Garrick. I was also employed as one of the engineers to install and operate the automation for the central show at the Millennium Dome in the year 2000. I then began a freelance career in lighting design and technical management for international touring theatres.

After collaborating with a PhD candidate at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I decided to complete an MA in Scenography specialising in digital content creation. This led to a collaboration with a fellow graduate and working on large scale events that involved merging lighting and interactive digital media.

Stage lighting display and dance performer
Justin Farndale's work - Credit: Justin Farndale Caption

What are some of your most memorable projects  from your time working on theatre productions ?

Some of the fond memories that come to mind include operating automation in front of the Queen at the Millenium Dome at the turn of the century, designing digital content for Shanghai Fashion Week and operating the lighting for the premier of a musical at the London Palladium. It has also been enjoyable to see parts of the world that I would not have experienced if I did a different job.

Image projection map on walls in gallery space
Justin Farndale's work - Credit: Justin Farndale Caption

BA Creative Technical Theatre is a new course at Wimbledon - can you tell us about it? What does it cover and what can students expect?

The course is an exciting convergence of creative process and emerging technologies. With the current first years, we are right now developing a fully immersive VR performance utilising open-source applications and exploring methods of capturing live performance within a VR environment.

Fundamentally, the course aims to explore what is creatively achievable by repurposing existing and emerging technology to create production effects to support performance.

Stage lighting display with image projection of face side profile
Justin Farndale's work - Credit: Justin Farndale Caption

Why is the course relevant to the industry now?

Now more than ever we are looking for a way of working that enables creatives and technical production staff to safely collaborate and make work that overcomes the issues of social distancing and audiences’ hesitation to go see live performance.  

The creative technical theatre course is working towards a new form of fully immersive theatre production. We are researching new ways of delivering conventional design skills such as using VR to enable students to experience new types of theatre. If we can achieve this then it might help take the industry in a whole new direction at a very challenging time for theatres across the globe.

Find out more about BA (Hons) Creative Technical Theatre