Your Interview Christina Thanasoula
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).
My name is Christina Thanasoula and I am a freelance Stage Lighting Designer based in Greece. I am a graduate of the Department of Theatre Studies, (Athens University, 2000) with a Master of Arts in Advanced Theatre Practice -strand of Lighting Design- obtained from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London, UK, 2002). My career path began right after my graduation from Central, working as an assistant lighting technician in the warehouse of a London based lighting rental company called Fourth Phase. I had a great boss, Alan Thomson, and he would always find opportunities for me to be near well-established lighting designers and observe them work. Alan arranged for me to “shadow” David Hersey, working in the National Theatre for the musical production “Anything Goes”, directed by Trevor Nunn. These early years experiences made me commit to stage lighting. After 2 years in London, I came back to Greece and my professional development flourished working along with Emmy award winner lighting designer Eleftheria Deko.
I have been freelancing ever since as a Lighting Designer. I enjoy both the technical and the artistic nature of light, to me it feels like these two are communicating vessels. Lighting is an art and a craft.
Women though, are mostly welcomed as artists but excluded from technical positions. Unfortunately, I am the only woman in Greece who has ever worked in a high-profile technical position in the field of stage lighting: for the past 2 years I was Head of the Lighting Department of the Hellenic Festival, one of the largest Theatre and Dance Festivals in Greece, hosting more than 70 performances over a period of 2 months.
I also find very challenging the role of the educator: I teach stage lighting design for beginners, designing workshops that offer both theoretical and hands-on experience.
Tell us about your work – is there a specific type of project you like to work on or an area you specialise in and why?
My field of expertise covers most of the live performance branches: theatre, opera, dance, live shows, events, street performances, site specific projects. I also enjoy working on architectural projects that call for theatre-oriented lighting, blending architecture and entertainment.
I am mainly interested in productions that combine multiple disciplines. I enjoy the collaborative nature of performing arts and find great inspiration in it.
What project are you most proud of and why?
a) Electra. Ancient Open-Air Theatre of Epidaurus. 2018. Epidaurus is one of the oldest open-air theatres still in use. It is always inspiring coming back there, enjoying the breathtaking view from the Auditorium while working on a show.
b) Apocalypse. Onassis Cultural Center 2019 A non-theatrical play is always a great challenge for all theatre makers involved.
c) Adrianne Aqueduct. 2018. Lighting Design proposal submitted 2 years ago at the E.Y.D.A.P. S.A, highlighting the architectural identity alongside the theatricality of the Monument.
d) Coffee Republique Headquarters 2017. This was treated more as a site-specific project than as an architectural lighting installation. I was hired to design the lighting for the office, coffee and production area of the new Coffee Republique Headquarters. The brief was to design a lighting set up that would unify all spaces, highlighting the industrial identity of it, while creating a friendly, relaxing environment for all visitors and employees. It was a great pleasure using fluorescent lights as the main lighting element.
e) The Marathon Dam 2012. Big scale event for the environmental site-specific performance “Just one person can do it” for the World Environment Day 2012, an initiative and production of E.Y.D.A.P. S.A. at the Marathon Dam. The size of the Canvas was enchanting and overwhelming at the same time.
What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?
Being authentic. There is too much visual distraction out there, we are all exposed to similar influences, it’s pretty difficult to stay original and focused.
How does light inspire you?
Good lighting design is all about achieving the right balance between abstract artistic concept/inspiration and real lighting needs. Lighting is like reading between the lines, it can be intriguing, frustrating and mind-blowing all at the same time. Designing light is an ongoing learning process that never ends. Expanding your skills and knowledge is always inspiring.
What is your message for other Women In Lighting?
Keep on lighting! Stay motivated!