Matt Cox on Blak: Lighting Design Notes

I try to help bring out the feel of a work.

When I approach a lighting design I try to help bring out the feel of a work. This can be achieved by creating full stage images or drawing the audience down to a lone candle, either way I use the abstract to pull attention and enhance the story telling in a performance.

For Blak I’ve sat in rehearsals, imagining what it is I’m seeing and projecting it on to the stage keeping the set and costumes in my mind. Then I can consider how this world would look lit in different ways. Often I’d think of it happening off stage - on the street at midnight or in the neighbour’s yard just after dawn when it’s raining. Once I have an image in mind, I set about figuring out how many lights I need, where should they be placed, what colours are needed, how bright and so on.


Jake has created another world with his sets, and the lighting fleshes this out and brings it to life along with the dancers. On the Blak journey, streetlights become the firelight, car headlights the moon and stars and the porch light becomes a beacon of loss. By absorbing the feel of the production during rehearsals my goal is to support the dancers and enrich the overall impact of the work.

The effects for Scar are quite urban, driven by bare street light and the idea of the last working light in an empty warehouse. It’s lighting that I find to be unapologetic and even aggressive. In Yearning the mood is more domestic, porch lights, the glow from a phone box, the light on a camera. Not necessarily any softer, but an obvious shift to a different place. In Keepers, the lighting design leaves the real world and takes a far more abstract approach. The best part of the creative process is seeing the world you imagine come to life.

Matt Cox
Lighting Design

Matt’s career in theatre has spanned 18 years, designing lighting in both Australia and the UK. Matt has created the lighting designs for 5 Bangarra productions including Belong (2012), Blak (2013), Dance Clan 3 (2013), OUR land people stories (2016) and Ones Country - the spine of our stories(2017).

Matt Cox, Photography u.k., 2018


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