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TINA LE ROUX (article first published : 2006-03-24)

Born in Ladysmith, lighting designer Tina le Roux grew up in Durban. She attended Durban Girls High School and University of Natal: Durban, graduating with BA Honours (Cum laude) in Drama and Performance Studies (UND).

Her involvement in theatre began at high school with the annual house plays. Her love for theatre was nurtured whilst at university, particularly by Lliane Loots and the Flatfoot Dance Company as well as the staff at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. At the time, this comprised current EST manager Jackie Cunniffe as well as Julian August and Brandon Bunyan.

On graduating she worked as company manager for Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre and as a freelance technician and stage manager. Her real training in theatre is as a stage manager and she took over the running of the Courtyard Theatre in 2001 which was then still part of Technikon Natal, now Durban Institute of Technology. The resident lighting designer at the Courtyard Theatre, she is also its theatre manager and she lectures students in Arts Administration, stage management and theatre literacy.

She has continued to work at the annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown as theatre manager on the main festival. “This year will be my tenth year!” Tina says with a smile, proudly mentioning that she received the Best Technician 2005 award in Grahamstown last year. “This award really means a lot to me,” she adds. “Not only because approximately 150 technicians work at the festival each year but because it recognised the role of women in this industry.”

Tina has worked at most of the theatres in Durban and at the Hilton Arts Festival. Since October, 2005, she has been involved with the Heritage Theatre as lighting designer.

Highlights over the past years include working on Popcorn directed by Greg King; A South African Siddartha by Jay Pather; The King and I and Conduct of Life directed by Debbie Lutge (2001 and 2002); and Greig Coetzee’s Happy Natives (2004). In 2005, her favourites include Life's a Cabaret produced by Sue Clarence; Snow White & the Seven Dwarves directed by Steven Stead; The Art of Charf by Paul Slabolepszy and Noises Off produced by Peter Toerien. “The opportunity to work with some of this country's leading playwrights and theatre practitioners has been amazing,” she says.

Her lighting design for The Jazz Singer produced this year for the Heritage Theatre by Gary McKenzie won her much critical acclaim.

Working with students at DIT gives her the opportunity to educate tomorrow's theatre practitioners. “There is a real sense of importance and responsibility attached to my work,” Tina says, “and I love every minute of it.”

When asked how she would define a successful lighting design, Tina maintains that it is “one that enhances the director's vision and adds to the value of the production. A good design is far more than simple illumination - it really is about "painting" the soul of the production. It should be subtle and technically well-executed.

Recent lighting designs include Motown Magic at the Heritage Theatre as well as Allen Auld's production of Black Comedy at the Courtyard Theatre.

“I am very excited to be working on Roshamon in May with Debbie Lutge and then I start work in Grahamstown for the festival on June 1,” she says. “I will be running Stores this year. This is a major undertaking as I am essentially responsible for making sure the appropriate gear is hired in, sent out to the venues and returned at the end of festival. This is one of the key technical posts at the festival.”

Recently, Tina married the love of her life, technician and set designer Dean Mellor. So, life is good for Tina le Roux whose slight frame belies a capacity of honed steel!




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