Assistant Lighting Designer

Tamykha Patterson

I studied Performing Arts at Lewisham College, on the acting course, and am also a qualified dance teacher! However, in our final project, I realised that it was the ‘other side of the curtain’ that I was most interested in! I was initially unsure of which aspect I was interested in – stage managing, directing, etc and I did a two- week ‘Backstage Pass ‘course at the Young Vic (London) and completed a placement on a production of Wild Swans. I was able to gain a much clearer overview of what all of the different technical roles involved. I then obtained an apprenticeship with Wimbledon Theatre (part of the Ambassador Theatre Group) for a year and I learnt so much!  Wimbledon Theatre is a receiving house, which meant that we would get a new touring show each week so there was a huge variety in what we did. 

Before Tina I worked at the National Theatre, firstly in a Development Role which lasted for 20 months. I worked on shows in the Lyttleton Theatre and then returned to work there on shows in the Olivier Theatre.  I’m now freelance, so I’m working on a lot of different projects and aiming to develop my practice from being an assistant to an Associate Lighting Designer – a more senior position in a team. 

My advice would be to be unafraid to ask questions or ask for help. No one knows everything, and there are so many people who want to help build the next generation of lighting designers.  More and more female lighting designers are coming through the ranks, which is also really exciting. I’ve met a lot of the lighting community online and there’s always someone who can answer a question or help you with something!

The skills you need to be a lighting designer are very much people-focussed, the job can be very intense. I think you need to develop confidence in your own ability, too, and be unafraid to meet a challenge!