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Mentee Anika Binding and mentor Hugh Conacher pose next to a stage planning diorama.

So many different aspects contribute to the live theatre-going experience, and lighting and visuals are no small part! Designers and artists Hugh Conacher and Anika Binding recently participated in the Professional Mentorship Program and shared some of their insights with us.

I have been apprenticing for and assisting Hugh on multiple Winnipeg productions and- under his guidance- learning about both the technical and artistic aspects of lighting and projection design. I have also been learning to use software related to these disciplines and growing my understanding of how lights and projection can completely transform a theatrical space.
– Anika

Anika has been assisting me in the creation of lighting and video designs for several shows in both theatre and dance. We have been in large and small theatres such as Royal MTC and The Rachel Browne Theatre. One of the things we’ve discussed is the differences in approach between those vastly different venues.
– Hugh

Pages of notes sitting up on desk in front of lit theatre stage

The notes are done… Lighting and visual progress notes for The Lehman Trilogy at RMTC John Hirsch Mainstage.

I have been involved in the theatre community since I was sixteen and just getting started as a crew member backstage. In the six years since then, I have been involved in many productions in the community and university. Having just graduated from the University of Winnipeg this winter, I have been an artist in the professional world for only a few months and WOW, what a wonderful whirlwind it has been so far! I’m excited to have a long career in theatre along with all the adventures it will bring!
– Anika

I’ve been involved with the art and performance world for over forty years.
– Hugh

My favourite part of working in theatre is collaborating with so many creative minds. You meet wonderful people in this industry and all of them have unique perspectives that magically blend together to result in shows that are filled with heart and beauty. I love the process of taking all the ideas and concepts that the other designers and collaborators bring to a show, and finding ways to have my designs contrast and compliment the whole picture. Personally, I’ve found that nothing is as satisfying as creating a piece of art that lives and breathes in the way that live theatre does.
– Anika

So many aspects of my work bring me joy but getting a show in front of an audience after months, sometimes years of work is definitely a good one.
– Hugh

Blue lit stage with people at controls in front

Anika and Hugh at the lighting table during tech rehearsal for Among Men, a co-production between RMTC and Theatre Projects Manitoba at Tom Hendry Warehouse.

I have felt so lucky to have had this opportunity to work with Hugh, I can say without a doubt that my understanding of lighting and projection design has grown faster than I would have thought possible, thanks to this program! I have been able to work on so many large-scale shows which is invaluable experience for an upcoming designer, and have made connections and built relationships with multiple theatres in the city. I feel that this has helped me to bridge that scary moment when you’ve just graduated from university and you’re not quite sure what happens next, and now I’m so excited to continue working in the city and building my skills as a designer.
– Anika

Anika has a great attitude and a willingness to participate. She’s not afraid to jump in and try something, even if she’s unfamiliar with it. I’ve enjoyed seeing the moments when the lightbulb goes on (the EUREKA! moments) and seeing her successfully understand new ideas and concepts. For example, she’d never done a Lighting Plot before but with support on the first, she completed three!
– Hugh

Anika Binding in sweater standing under red-orange stage lighting

Anika Binding (she/her) is an emerging multi-faceted theatre artist, born and raised in Winnipeg. She studied at the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre program and recently graduated with a BA Honours in Theatrical Design- with specializations in lighting and costume design, stage management, and directing. She loves to create theatre that emphasizes the importance of connection, collaboration, and community.

Portrait photo of Hugh Conacher

Hugh Conacher (he/him) is a lighting and multimedia designer, and a photographer, whose practice is based in live performance. He has collaborated with choreographers, directors, visual artists, and dance and theatre companies throughout Canada and around the world, in venues large and small.

Hugh’s multi-disciplinary process straddles the worlds of lighting design, new media technologies, projection and photography, blurring the lines between disciplines, using whichever media form best serves the vision of his current project. His photographic work resides in private collections and has been published worldwide.

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