Jo Dawson

Lecturer

School of Digital, Technologies and Arts

I am a Lecturer on both the BA Acting for Stage and Screen course and the MA in Collaborative Theatre Practice, specialising in the backstage, technical and scenographic areas. 

My whole working life has been in the theatre industry, and I continue to combine professional lighting design practice with my teaching commitments. For the Drama Department, I facilitate all the full-scale productions staged in our campus performance spaces and at venues around the city, by managing the various budgets, sourcing and buying props and settings and creating lighting designs.

I trained in Stage Management and Technical Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and worked professionally as a Stage Manager and technician for various small scale touring productions before moving to Stoke on Trent to take up a role at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme. It was at this theatre-in-the-round that I learned to design the lighting and I stayed there for ten years, lighting over thirty shows, including some for the theatre’s original director, Peter Cheeseman.

Following this, I went freelance and lit shows for many of the country’s regional producing theatres including Theatre by The Lake in Keswick, The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, and The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, as well as lighting shows for small scale touring theatre companies and re-lighting large scale commercial touring productions.

It was during this period that I first became involved with the Drama Department at Staffs Uni, coming in to help the students put on their productions, firstly on a freelance basis, then on a part time contract to teach on the Technical Stage Production course which ran until 2017.

Since 2018, I have been working full time for the department, delivering lectures and providing tutorial support on lighting design, stage and production management and health and safety as well as facilitating all of our staged productions.

I continue to combine my teaching commitments with lighting design work. For example, I have been regularly contracted by the Birmingham School of Acting to design their final year shows and, in this capacity, I work alongside their technical and stage management students facilitating their learning in a professional environment.

Professional memberships and activities

Fellow of The Higher Education Academy

Professional Member of the Association of Lighting Production and Design

Equity Trade Union for creative practitioners

Academic qualifications

Post Graduate Certificate in Higher & Professional Education, Staffordshire University

B/TEC HND in Stage Management, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Expertise

Lighting Design for theatre

Production Management

Stage Management

Scenography

Approved Trainer status in WYSIWYG – an industry specific lighting design CAD package

Research interests

Creativity

The influence of technology on creativity.

Lighting Design as storyteller

Teaching

BA Acting for Stage and Screen

  • Level 4 Actor as Collaborator module on Creating the World of the Play and Health & Safety training
  • Level 6 Creative Companies module, providing tutorial and technical support to self-organised student theatre companies.

MA Collaborative Theatre Practice

  • Teaching sessions on Staging Plays 1: Visualisation
  • Scenography
  • Lighting Design
  • Production Management
  • Stage Management

Tutorial support

  • Staging Plays 2: Realisation
  • Creative Company: Innovation and Impact
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Research Excellence Framework 2021

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