The premiere issue of Live Design will include something called "Under Their Influence," featuring 10 of the most influential people in the world of live design, as picked by our advisory board, the Live Design staff, and readers. You'll have to wait and see who made the full list, but here's a sneak peek at one: lighting designer Jean Rosenthal.
As you may know, there was no lighting designer before Jean Rosenthal. Well, there was no lighting design credit, anyway, not until she was listed as a lighting designer for her work on Rosalinda on Broadway in 1942. She was one of the first to espouse that what she was doing onstage was art and not electricity, a fact that was underscored by her exceptional work on such shows as The Sound of Music, West Side Story, and Fiddler on the Roof. She also wrote one of the first books on lighting, The Magic of Light.
"Her book The Magic of Light has been as inspiring as the woman herself," says lighting designer/educator Cindy LiMauro. "Many give her credit for starting the art of lighting design and formalizing it into a professional practice."
Here's a great anecdote about Rosenthal from Rosco president Stan Miller:
"In 1958 or 59, Jean Rosenthal was lighting a ballet, probably the New York City Ballet. An electrician, perched precariously on a fully extended A ladder, inserted a frame of Roscolene in a light as instructed. Jean quietly advised him that he had the wrong color. He climbed down, found a sheet marked with the color that she had requested, cut a piece and framed it and made his way back up. Jean, not as quietly this time, advised him that he had made the same mistake again and he was wasting everyone's time. Once again, he climbed down and showed her that the sheet was marked with the number she had specified. She called Rosco and suggested that I come to the theatre for a chat. I came immediately and quickly determined that we had made a mistake and marked the sheets with the wrong number. Now Jean Rosenthal was dimunitive, maybe 5' or 5'1", but she was definitely not small. That day she towered over me as she explained strongly the ramifications of our error. The 9-foot electrician at her side reinforced her position. Shaken, I returned to our plant in Brooklyn and made everyone aware of the implications of mis-marking colors. It has never happened again."
You can learn the identity of the other nine influential artists in the first issue of Live Design, hitting the streets next week. If you have your own choice for an influential visual designer, technician, artist, or director in the world of live design, send your picks to firstname.lastname@example.org.