Lights of London was established in 2007 with their opening production Shakespeare in Shoreditch which told the story of Will Shakespeare’s arrival in Shoreditch and the establishment of the first British theatre, the Curtain Theatre in London. It was performed Upstairs at the Old Blue Last adjacent to the site of the Curtain theatre, which has since been unearthed.
As part of it’s theatre programme, Lights of London has continued to produce quality classical productions, that celebrate the history and heritage of East London.
The company was formed by actor/singer/artistic director Darrie Gardner and has had an ever changing ensemble of visiting actors, directors, designers, technicians, musicians, and other creatives who are hired on a self-employed project to project basis. Every single one has been dedicated, professional, and passionate and Lights of London would like to extend their gratitude to them all, in their contribution to each project. (Please see gallery and roll call of honour).
At the beginning, as was common in those days, actors were engaged on a profit share basis and initially either received no profit as none was made or a very small amount each. The first show to make genuine profit was the sell out The Magnetic Lady at the White Bear. Lights of London is unfunded and projects are personally funded by the artistic director, who also does not take any payment or make any profit as actor or artistic director for any ensemble projects. The company then moved to paying national minimum wage for short term projects or one off agreed fees for longer term projects. Despite excellent houses and ticket sales on some projects, and careful management, it remains impossible to pay actors full equity rates but it is hoped to move towards £NMW fringe in the future, and continue paying day rates or one-off fees for projects.
Due to the low pay, Lights of London has always endeavoured to create rehearsal schedules that allow actors to do other paid work and other projects and also to pull out if they need to should a better project come along with adequate warning to be replaced. During Covid Zoom rehearsals became a useful tool that allows actors to get off book and do prep before getting into the room. As far as possible Lights of London will try to accommodate actors pre-declared and ongoing commitments. As such rehearsal time is fast and furious, with actors picking up and delivering their roles in superhuman time.
Lights of London makes all roles open to actors regardless or race, sexuality, gender I.D, religion, education or class background, and often cross casts gender wise and colour blind, with consideration to the actors previous training and experience. Roles are allocated on ability to deliver the role, through an application and audition process, or through recommendation via other actors known to the company. Lights of London also endeavour to create roles that are interesting for every actor, whether small or large roles so no actor is an ‘extra’ or in a ‘supporting’ role but has enough to engage their interest. Many productions have been a result of the ensemble working closely together and bringing suggestions rather than under the sole guidance of a director.
Lights of London has moved into digital theatre and film-making via our sister company Golden Pavement Films.
In 2021 a digital version was made of One Day in Wonderland, and accepted to show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Online, but due to technical difficulties it was not released. This has been remade as a digital studio production available in collaboration with C Arts as Video on Demand at Brighton, Edinburgh, Sydney and Melbourne festivals in 2022 and is hoped to be released further afield.
A screenplay for an indie feature film is currently underway for submission and or production 2022 and 2023.
Watch this space.