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Sinead Mckenna

Sinead Mckenna

Lighting designer - freelancer

Head of Lighting Masters Programme at
Lir Academy, Dublint

The job

Using vectorworks/ CAD based software to plan and design the lighting for stage productions- theatre/ dance/ Opera/ Music. The lighting plan comprises a schematic of the Theatre Venue, the Set plan, and the lighting bars and lighting positons.

In the venue the lighting is plotted into a lighting board, all of the cues are plotted, timed intricately to action/ music, and played back. I use a mixture of generic and intelligent moving light fixtures, which require a lot of programming.

Professional beliefs
What does it take to be successful?

Listen. Absorb the work of the other artists involved, in order to provide an integral design. Be kind.- Often a tense environment; I try to keep calm and keep smiling!

Success is doing a job that you enjoy, that you find rewarding- you can do big shows that aren’t necessarily successful in this regard- dance in Ireland is a small industry but it is some of my most rewarding and favourite designs have come from these smaller shows.

Compromise- freelance life invariably means you have to compromise at times. Family life and friends – sometimes timimg is bad and you have to miss some occasions- however not having a 9-5 can work to your advantage. When my daughter was a baby I was able to juggle a lot of her childcare between my parter and I.

Relationships- I try to respect people, and again, listen. I like to have a good rapport with the crew and lighting personnel- they work incredibly hard and are amazing, talented and funny people! I also like to absorb a directors vision for a show, and not work against what people are trying to achieve. It’s often a compromise!

Mistakes- there are always little things you would change, it’s difficutlt to ever feel ‘finished’ with a live event. However, I would say I would never leave a mistake that would impact on the cast, or anything that I could fix. Generally we have tech and previews so we can work out problems and so that the show will always run smoothly.

Education

B.A. Drama and Theatre Studies.

Various short film production courses

Skills

  • Logical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • People skills- managing crews and personnel, having good dialogue with director/ other designers.
  • CAD / drafting / planning
  • Good plotting skills on lighting boards of industry standards.

Outside work

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time outside of work and family commitments. I like to try and catch up with my family and friends whenever I get a break from work. I would love to engage more socially, particularly homelessness is a big problem in Dublin, but that is one area where I help from afar with donations, signing petitions etc rather than actually being able to give time. On the Womens’s marches recently here in Dublin I was able to combine social activism with seeing my girl friends and bringng my daughter along!