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Director:  Andrew Whyment
Venue:  NYT
Company: NYT
Lighting: Jack Hathaway

Photos: Johan Persson


"Meet Ada Lovelace - the world's first computer programmer - in a funny and fast-paced new play for young audiences by Rebecca Manley. Ada follows a contemporary teenager’s adventure with the legendary Victorian mathematician, as they both face their fears about family, change and identity. Leaping through space and time and meeting some larger-than-life characters along the way."

Particularly enjoyable was working so closely with set design from an early stage. We knew from the outset that we wanted some way or lighting a space that was very low from a practical view, but also a lighting element that can represent the 'engine'. 

An intrinsic part of the show, the analytical engine is what Ada Lovelace is known for; a mechanical machine capable of performing operations when given instructions. This invention is responsible for the early stages of the computer programming. In effect Ada is the mother of modern computing technology. 

My first port of call was circuit boards and 'dot matrixes' and how they could translate into a form of lighting. I looked at fixtures  first. We started to think more on the feeling of being crushed by the weight of something, feeling trapped and stifled, as this echoed the feelings of the protagonist, Ama. So from this i started to think of more structural elements. Many versions included ceilings with LED tape etc. The bulbs came later.  

Initially my thought was to have them allot more structured, in lines to denote the circuits boards i was thinking of at the start. Practicalities meant this was not possible, however it was something I leant into. I think it helped the idea establish as something more conceptual. The blocking and acting was leant towards heavy interaction with the bulb grid which helped dramaturgically.  All in all a very successful impact I like to think. The light was very diffused of course so I did have to add a healthy amount of conventional units around the outside of the circle to add sculpture. This in it's self was a challenge in this space the trim height was possibly no more than 2.5m.


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