Richard Pilbrow

Ridgefield, ConnecticutRPilbow

Inducted as a Fellow: 2001

Your earliest memories of the Institute?

December 1960. I was in Berlin for an ITI colloquium "Colloquium Uber Theaterbau," where I met for the first time, Fred Bentham (Technical head of Strand Electric), architects Peter Moro and Eric Jordan from the UK, and Americans Joel Rubin, Tom deGaetani and Ben Schlanger. In Hardke's Restaurant, over several beers, we all spoke of the excitement of our sharing our common interests and meeting each other. Joel and Tom had already begun talking about an American association of theatre technicians, and we all resolved to go back to our homes and make it happen.
A month later the Association of British Theatre Technicians was formed in my office in London and the USITT came into being in NYC.

Favorite USITT memory?

Recieving the USITT Award in Denver in 1984 when I was very young! What an honor! I was overwhelmed. After the conference at Denver Airport I met an old friend, Gordon Pearlman. He mentioned a pending new arts center in Portland Oregon. I changed my flight, went with him to Portland, and won the project — TPC's first major US consulting project.

Short list of career highlights:


  • Stage manager
  • Lighting designer
  • Founded Theatre Projects in London in 1957
  • Projection consultant
  • Producer in the West End
  • Author
  • Theatre design consultant

Short list of your involvement in the Institute:

  • Named Fellow in 2000.
  • Six years member of the Board of Directors
  • Moderator for Fellows events

If you were to make a short list of the memorable USITT characters that have made a difference to you, who would they be?

Ed Kook, Joel Rubin, Dr. Doom (Dr. Randall W.A. Davidson), Patricia MacKay

Anything you want to say about being a Fellow?

I feel extraordinarily honored to be a Fellow of the Institute. In fact I find it very hard to believe. After all, I speak with a very strange, rather hoity-toity, English accent (which of course I've tried for years to modify), and only became a proper Yankee US citizen in 2009, after many years living with a Green Card, thanks to my southern-belle wife, Molly. The Fellows are one's ultimate peers, and to be elected by them is a very high honor indeed.

Anything you'd like to add about what the USITT means to you personally?

USITT has provided an amazing welcome to me in my life and work in the US since my arrival on Broadway in 1962. The absolute best thing about USITT is the hordes of passionate young people, who annually enliven the conference. Their enthusiasm is in no way diminished since I began in the profession nearly 58 years ago.


  • Stage Lighting (1970, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1986, 1991).
  • Stage Lighting Design, the Art, the Craft, the Life (1997, 2000, 2002, 2008).
  • The Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Backstage Story with Pat MacKay (2003).
  • A Theatre Project - A Backstage Adventure PLASA Media (2011)

List of books that you recommend about the field:

Obviously the above. plus

  • The Sound of Theatre by David Collison, PLASA Books (2009).
  • Architecture Actor and Audience by Iain Mackintosh, Routledge Books (1993)


My subjects are stage lighting and theatre design and consulting. I'm really happy to help and encourage any pushy/aggressive younger person in this great life of theatre.

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