Acclaimed, pioneering lighting designer Andy Phillips passed away on September 17th.
Although best known for his lighting work at the Royal Court Theatre in the 1960s and 1970s, Phillips originally trained as an actor before becoming a prop maker - his work including making the Triffids for the film The Day Of The Triffids. He returned to theatre at the Aldwych as the 'young man' working alongside a crew who'd all served together in the Second World War. He then worked as second electrician on tour with Paul Schofield's King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company before returning to the Aldwych.
In 1965 he joined the Royal Court Theatre where he was given free reign by the theatre's directors to experiment. This led to the creation of the Court's 'white light' style, which rejected the use of multi-colored filters in favor of just using correction filters to remove the orange cast of tungsten lamps while retaining the natural skin tone of an actor's face. The Court's designers also dispensed with much of the artifice of theatre, removing masking to leave the lighting rig exposed, its structure designed to complete the overall visual picture of a show.
Andy Phillips remained the Royal Court's resident lighting designer until 1972, lighting over 80 consecutive productions most of which were world premieres. After that time he continued to work regularly with many of his Royal Court collaborators, most notably director John Dexter: their shows together included the two productions for which Andy Phillips received Tony Award nominations in New York: Equus in 1974 and M. Butterfly in 1989.
With two other Royal Court colleagues, Rory Dempster and John Simpson, Andy founded lighting rental company White Light, named after the style of lighting for which they were renowned. Rory Dempster passed away earlier this year.
Though his preferred lighting tool was the Strand Patt 264 profile spot, Andy Phillips was unafraid of new lighting technology if it allowed him to create better lighting, being one of the first designers to use color scrollers on M. Butterfly and making use of automated lighting on recent shows such as Auntie & Me, his last West End production.