Nick Schlieper has had numerous APDG Award nominations and won the 2013 Lighting Design for stage or event award for his work on Face to Face.  The APDG interviewed Nick about his work and his award win.

1. Do you have any fond (or not so fond) memories working on Face to Face? 

I have both fond and not-so-fond memories of doing “Face To Face”.  Fond, because it was something of a labour of love, that I believe paid off in spades and of which I’m very proud. Not so fond, because the realisation of the set (which I also designed) was a bit of a voyage of discovery, with all the attendant nail-biting phases – mostly to do with the engineering logistics of flying several tonnes of room. 

I also didn’t make my life easy when it came to lighting the show. For the entire first half, the large white room was suspended above the stage, thereby putting a ceiling over virtually the entire space. The second half played inside the big, white room behind an acrylic wall, once it had landed on stage, engulfing Kerry Fox during its descent. I think that’s what you call painting yourself into two corners!

2. What do you think makes a work “Award Winning”?

As to what makes any work “award winning” – who the hell would know – I gave up trying to figure that one out years ago! I’ve frequently won awards for designs that I personally thought were conventional, uninspiring, or sometimes just plain bog-standard. Meanwhile, I’ve had work that I thought was the complete opposite of this go straight through to the keeper. Beats me! Even when you think you’ve got a handle on what sort of work each different award tends to “like”, they’ll stump you by voting for something that defies those expectations. And then there are the politics behind all those decisions – it’s just too hard to pick.

Certainly, an award judged by one’s peers carries a special weight, which is why (if I get my act together) I will be entering something in this year’s APDG awards. My only regret is that the awards are judged on documentary evidence only, rather than on the basis of being seen in the flesh. Photos or even footage of a piece of theatre is always a very different experience to the live one, especially when it comes to lighting design.

3. What have you been working on recently and will you be entering the awards this year? 

I’ve just done Playing Beatie Bow for the re-opening of the Wharf Theatre and am now working on Cherry Orchard for Belvoir, SandSong for Bangarra and the re-mount of Picture Of Dorian Gray for STC. Who knows, one of them might find their way into this year’s awards yet…