Veteran UK and Australia lighting designer Rory Dempster passed away on February 7.
A mainstay at the Royal Court in the 60s and 70s, he worked with Andy Phillips to establish the Court's "white light" principle, which dictated that nothing was more important on the stage than the actor's face. During this time, Dempster worked with some of the best playwrights of the day, including Trevor Griffiths, Michael Frayn, Howard Brenton, Athol Fugard and David Hare. He could also change style when the show demanded, such as in his design for the Royal Court's original production of The Rocky Horror Show.
Dempster was a founding partner of lighting rental company White Light. He was part of the team that created the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. He was deeply involved with Field Day in Northern Ireland. He worked with David Hare at the Nottingham Playhouse, and subsequently lit many of Hare's plays, including Plenty and Pravda.
In the early 1990s Dempster moved to Australia, where he continued to concentrate on projects that interested him, forming a close working relationship with director Neil Armfield and his Sydney-based Company B at Belvoir Street. His collaboration with Armfield included productions on three continents; their Sweeney Todd was seen at the Royal Opera House in London last December.
Dempster was too ill to attend these performances, having been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a lung disease associated with exposure to asbestos fibres, early in 2003.
Those wishing to commemorate Rory's life and work are invited to make a donation to the Company B Theatre Foundation New Scholarship for Young Lighting Designers at 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010, Australia.
Further enquiries should be addressed to John Simpson at White Light in London, telephone 020 8254 4800, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to Judith Alexander or Virginia Braden at Arts Management in Australia, telephone +61 2 9310 2466.