In Memoriam: Steve Irwin, 57

May 1, 2020

Steve Irwin

This article is adapted for use here from our friends at PLSN.

Longtime lighting designer Steve Irwin passed away in his hometown of Athens, OH on Sunday morning, April 26, after complaining of acute pains originating the day before. Steve had been retired for several years from a successful career and had devoted himself to teaching others his craft. He leaves behind his fiancée Ricarda Sammaneh. Steve was 57.

Steve was the youngest of three Irwin brothers who all got into the live event business as lighting technicians and designers. Steve was the last of the three to pass on. He was working for his older brother by the time he was in high school. He embarked on a successful career that was based mostly around corporate theater work, but he also enjoyed his time on the road as a tech and later as a touring LD. He spent three years as Art Garfunkel’s lighting designer in the early 2000’s as well as venturing into the heavy metal scene, working as the lighting programmer for Manowar back around 2005.

The Lighting Trainer

Steve became a popular man on The Light Network, a social forum for lighting people established back in the 90’s. He was one of the first people to take advantage of networking on the internet and within a few years became famous for answering questions. If he couldn’t answer one, he found somebody that could. He was credited for his role as someone who was paving the road as a pioneer for online training by remotely creating and sharing all sorts of lighting content, including videos, with various people in the forum.

Irwin was one of the first people to catch on to the power of lighting visualizers at an early age. He and his brothers held WYSIWYG retreats in their younger days at facilities such as See Factor in NYC and Upstaging in Chicago. Steve went on to become involved with the ESP PreViz program at its infancy as well.

As much as Steve loved working with lighting, he loved teaching it just as much. He started up the Show Training Network back around 2000. This was a traveling classroom that taught Hog 2 classes to tons of IATSE professionals as well as those who wanted to learn more about programming skills. Steve would bring out some famous programmer friends to work alongside him as they taught up to 16 people in a class with eight consoles connected to PCs running WYSIWYG.

By 2011, Irwin had started working on the site, which has served as a valued industry resource guiding industry newcomers and established pros to all sorts of training opportunities and content. The site amassed wome 20,000 links that visitors can use to learn about any light fixture, media server, console operation and tons more.

In recent years, Irwin also built an impressive Facebook empire. At the time of his death he was the administrator of over 22 different sites. Just last week, he admitted that he may have gotten a little carried away, but added that he had more than 150,000 people as members. (He noted that he has personally vetted over 90 percent of these applicants during his 10-year run and can vouch that they are legitimately in the live entertainment industry.)

Everything Stage Lighting is the largest live entertainment forum on Facebook, with over 61,000 members, and is still the best source to find every training manual and video link you need to answer your questions. Rest assured that plans are in place to keep Steve Irwin’s legacy alive for many years to come.

Steve is survived by his fiancée, Riki, as well as his sister Kim, son Kevin, daughter-in-law Amanda and grandson Connor.

Steve Kevin and Connor
Steve Irwin with his son, Kevin, and grandson, Connor.


Friends of Steve have set up a Go Fund Me page to help his family during this difficult time with expenses. “He gave so much to so many, never asking for anything in return,” said Nook Schoenfeld, editor of PLSN. “Just the knowledge that he helped everyone out was all he ever desired. It’s time we pay the piper back.”