Paule Constable: pressing air

Updated: Jun 14, 2019

Alice Boyd: Interview with Paule Constable

Paule Constable is a lighting designer who has worked at major venues both in the UK and internationally. She is an associate of the National Theatre, the Lyric Hammersmith and for Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. She has created the lighting design for many productions at the National Theatre, including Follies, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse, and Angels in America. She has been the recipient of multiple Olivier, Tony, Helpmann and Knight of Illumination Awards, alongside other accolades. She is currently working on Matthew Bourne's Romeo and Juliet.

What's your favourite thing about lighting design?

That's a really simple question. My favourite thing about lighting design is darkness. I really love an absence of light. I think it's what makes light more interesting. So often, good lighting is about what you don't put light on. Everything for me starts with nothing. I keep banging onto people about how taking responsibility for the use of resource is good design practice because it implies a rigour.

Rigour is my other complete obsession. Making it dramaturgical. Technology is a means to an end. As a lighting designer, if you invite an audience to engage with beauty and story in the same way that everything they're seeing and hearing is telling a story, then it becomes more holistic. I think that's when work becomes interesting.

"There's a school of thought where lighting can be seen as decorative and it can be seen as 'stuff'. I think a lot of people are drawn to lighting because they're excited about working with technology and that sort of thing. For me, lighting isn't about the 'stuff', it's about the air that you press."