Tim Clare, Theatre Lighting Designer and Stage Manager in the UK.

TheatrePeople (#63) - Tim Clare | Theatre Ave

Another great week, Theatre People. Optimism is in the air. You can feel the stories starting to ease back onto stages, and the makers beginning to bloom with ideas and projects once again.

This week we're featuring another of those terrific theatrical makers—Tim Clare. Tim is a veteran theatre professional, working primarily in Lighting Design and Stage Management in the UK. I hope you enjoy his interview as much as I did!

 Tim Clare, a UK Theatre Stage Manager and Lighting Designer.

What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)

Like a lot of musical theatre enthusiasts, I heard the hype that surrounded the multi-Tony Award winning musical called Hamilton. After moving back from state side, it was exciting to hear that I would be able to see the show in the UK as it opened in the West End. I couldn’t wait, and although I had heard the odd song from the show, I tried to avoid hearing any more, to really take in the spectacle for the first time as an audience member.

Wow, it was a show like no other and I was blown away. The music was of course perfect, the staging phenomenal, sound design spot on, with the set and costumes working perfectly.

It was the lighting design, however, that truly 'blew it all away.' Howell Binkley’s precision and sheer genius shone through for the entire production. Being a lighting designer myself, I had true adoration for what Howell had created. Each cue was beautiful, and I sat there watching in sheer amazement.

I was very excited to find that ETC, who produce lighting desks for theatres (including the desks that we use in our theatre), released a Hamilton Programming Project for users to have a go at programming parts of the show, using real touring paperwork. This takes advantage of the 3D visualisation software that they have just released. This was sort of like a dream come true. You can check the project out here.

What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?

My first time professionally recognised, a review featured in The Stage for one of my lighting designs. I grew up knowing that The Stage was the epitome of theatre reviews in the UK, and to finally to see my design had become noteworthy was a real point of reflection for me. The piece featured my work in the production of Sleeping Beauty in 2017 at the Royal Spa Centre, where I work as resident Technical Supervisor, as well as Lighting Designer for the show. The full quote from The Stage was:

“Tim Clare’s suitably garish lighting design produces pools of hot pink and vomit green, and he pulls off a really quite terrifying coup with an enormous UV-lit dragon puppet."

What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)

In the UK, pantomime is one of the biggest shows of the year. Trying to explain to an American audience what the production entails is a mission in its own right! So the principal boy is played by a girl, the dame is a man dressed in women’s clothes (and the more hideous the better), the good fairy always comes on from stage right, whilst the evil character always appears from stage left (usually with a pyrotechnic effect!). They usually chuck in a 'he’s behind you' ghost scene, a slosh scene which can be like a Laurel and Hardy sketch full of shaving foam, and people falling over. The dame will pick a male ‘stooge’ from the unwitting audience, to come up on stage and be her 'boyfriend' at various points throughout the show. Everyone boos and hisses the baddie and cheers for the good character. And no matter what happens, the principal boy usually ends up marrying the princess! Not to miss out the songsheet, which takes place towards the end of the show, where children from the audience are picked to join some of the principals onstage to 'sing' a song, ultimately receiving a goody bag on their return to their seats! Please see a selection of images from the shows I have worked on.

So it’s safe to say, panto can be a challenge for people to get their heads around, however there is always lots of laughter involved. Some of the greatest goofs I’ve seen can be from pure corpsing onstage from the actors. Due to the run of 50+ shows (often twice a day), the actors often get to the point where the smallest of things can make them corpse, and it’s a snowball effect. The audience love it though. They almost wait for that moment where the can see their favourite character lose it on stage, and it adds to the reality of life. Too many to choose from, but it’s guaranteed to happen several times over a long run.

Why do you love theatre?

Theatre gives everyone an 'escape' from reality. To be able to create the magic of theatre, day in and day out, is more than just a job for me, it’s a passion and a huge part of my life. I’ve been lucky enough to work across two countries (USA and the UK) in a professional technical theatre capacity and have been working in the industry since University in Scotland.

It has certainly been a worrying time for any arts organisations—with the pandemic hitting the industry hard. At the Royal Spa Centre, we have not had a show through the doors since the end of March 2020, but we have all had to adapt in one way or another. We’ve been hiring out our main auditorium for some green screen filming and broadcasts, whilst the maintenance we would usually do in our summer shutdown, has been able to be spread over several months to ensure that we’ll be ready when the call comes to reopen our venues.

Theatre is for... 


Theatre can transport the audience member to another world, where the hum drum of daily chores don’t appear. Anyone can take that journey, and the people around you are all along for the ride!

More Incredible Theatre People

Maria McConville Pizzarello, Playwright and Theatre Education Director
Shannon Lowery, Ballet and Modern Dancer
Ray Palasz, High School Theatre Director

More about Tim

Tim Clare is an academically trained and accomplished theatre professional based in Warwickshire. He has a special interest in Lighting Design and an in-depth understanding of the ETC Eos family of consoles, as well as being an accredited member of Equity as a professional Stage Manager.

Tim’s current position is based at the Royal Spa Centre, a mid-size regional receiving house. The shows vary from one-night comedy or music performances to week-long plays and musicals and, of course, a traditional family pantomime.

Deputising for the Technical Manager and acting as Resident Lighting Designer for the Theatre, Tim uses his leadership skills to ensure projects are successfully completed, as he guides a team of three technicians, all whilst training an apprentice! His lighting skills are put to good use on the annual co-production pantomime for Imagine Theatre, alongside lighting the week-long amateur runs in the main auditorium.

Theatre has been a life long passion with his technical skills honed as a teenager in Dorset. As his teachers recognised passion coupled with technical ability, he was successful as the school’s resident theatre technician. This then grew to Tim working in the entertainment industry across two continents, including professional theatres in Denver (Colorado), on several Fringe Festival shows.

Alongside academic studies, Tim has also obtained professional and work based qualifications which include Eos Family Level 3 Advanced course, PAT Testing qualification, First Aid Certificate, and is working towards an ILM Level 3 Leadership Qualification. He has a full clean UK driving licence and has been trained to use Scissor Lifts and Cherry Pickers.

In his spare time, Tim enjoys geocaching (both in the UK and internationally), playing the piano, organising social functions, and taking part in local quizzes!


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