The judging is carried out by three panels of industry experts in conjunction with prestigious industry organisations the ALD and the STLD.

Theatre Judges

David Benedict

(Theatre Chair) Critic and Broadcaster

David is a recovering actor and theatre director. He has written about the arts in every major national newspaper except The Telegraph and the Daily Mail, was arts editor of The Observer and appears regularly on BBC Radio arts programmes.

What do you look for in a lighting/video design?
“Distinctive, imaginative control; the dramatically expressive delineation or enhancement of the flow, pace, mood, tone and temperature of a piece of theatre.”

Michael Billington

Theatre Critic, The Guardian

Theatre critic of The Guardian since 1971, a frequent broadcaster and author of several books including State of the Nation: British theatre since 1945 and The 101 Greatest Plays (both published by Faber).

What do you look for in a lighting/video design?
“I look for lighting that illuminates the play in every sense, that helps to create a coherent world on stage and that is aesthetically pleasing without being self-advertising.”

Natasha Tripney

Reviews Editor, The Stage

As well as being the reviews editor and joint lead critic at The Stage, Natasha is the co-founder of Exeunt, and was editor of the site between 2011-2016. Among other publications, she has also reviewed for The Independent and Time Out.

What do you look for in a lighting/video design?
“I look for lighting design that builds worlds and generates atmosphere, that transports an audience through time.”

Mark Valencia

Opera Editor, WhatsOnStage

Following a long career in drama and theatre education, Mark has spent a decade working in freelance opera and theatre journalism. He also writes for Musical America on the European and London scenes, contributes music reviews to Bachtrack in the UK and supplies programme notes on operatic subjects. When time allows he remains a theatre nut and is a fanboy lover of musicals from every period.

What do you look for in a lighting/video design?
“As a general rule the more lighting is integral to an overall design the less conspicuous it needs to be. If we notice it because it jars against the prevailing aesthetic, something’s amiss. On the other hand, when creative lighting is fundamental to a concept all bets are off, and then – as Sergei Diaghilev once said to Jean Cocteau – it’s a case of ‘astonish me.’”

Neil Norman

Chief Dance Critic, The Stage; Theatre Critic, Daily Express

Neil was the film critic for The Face and the Evening Standard for several decades before going ‘live’ and writing about dance, theatre and opera for a variety of publications including The Stage, Daily Express and Prospect magazine. He is also one of the main contributors to Sky Arts’ ‘Discovering Hollywood’ series.

What do you look for in a lighting/video design?
“I like lighting that enhances the mood and atmosphere of a production as well as the sculptural forms of dancers without overwhelming the work or drawing attention to itself”

Zoë Anderson

Dance Critic, Dancing Times

Zoë is dance critic of The Independent and the i, and assistant editor of Dancing Times. She is also the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years (Faber and Faber, 2006) and The Ballet Lover’s Companion (Yale University Press, 2015).

What do you look for in a lighting/video design?
“I look for lighting design that shapes space and reveals movement, that creates atmosphere and draws the audience into the work.”

George Hall

Opera Critic

George has been writing about opera and operatic performance for more than 35 years, including for The Guardian, The Stage, Financial Times and Opera Magazine. He is also a long-term member of the UK Theatre Awards opera panel.

What do you look for in a lighting/video design?
“An approach that combines imagination with technical skill and which underpins the entire production in helping to clarify the themes of the piece.”