Michael Northen Bursary 2015 - winners announced

Adam Murdoch, recently graduated from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Arts, has won this year’s Michael Northen Bursary (MNB), picking up a £500 cash award at a special presentation at PLASA London on Monday 5th October. He also won a year’s premium Stage Jobs Pro membership and a copy of Michael Northen’s autobiography.


Northen was both a former Chairman and President of the Association of Lighting Designers and the first credited lighting designer in the UK.


The Bursary is awarded annually to a student or recent graduate who has demonstrated strong, imaginative and creative lighting designs. It is organised by the Association of Lighting Designers, a professional body representing lighting designers in the live performance industry, and brings the student’s work to the attention of the experienced lighting designers and other industry professionals on the judging panel.


Each year an award of £500 is presented to a young lighting designer who has shown excellence in the field of lighting design. The project must be a performance-based lighting design in or out of the college environment. This year, three runners-up prizes of £250 each were also presented: an ETC sponsored award; the Francis Reid Award; and, for the first time, an, ALD-supported award celebrating excellence in the field of Video Design for Live Performance.


This year’s entrants demonstrated a particularly high standard, displaying wonderful talent from a very promising bunch of unique, fresh individuals – all of whom are at the beginning of an exciting career!


£500 Michael Northen Bursary

The Michael Northen Bursary of £500 went to Adam Murdoch, a student at Liverpool Institution for Performing Arts, who also picked up a year’s premium membership to Stage Jobs Pro and a copy of Michael Northen’s autobiography. The judges commented:

Adam’s entry was extremely impressive! His detailed submission showed the judges a variety of different productions and styles and his enthusiasm and approach highlighted his passion and expertise in the field of lighting design.


Adam demonstrated a great and varied CV, and has clearly worked hard beyond his studies to develop himself and his skillset. His plans and paperwork were of the highest standard, and his production shots truly showed off his fantastic and bold use of colour.

Adam’s work simply wouldn’t look out of place in the West End.


£250 ETC Award for runner up

This was awarded to Robert Butler, a student at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The judges said:

Robert’s unique video portfolio with audio commentary quickly caught the attention of the judging panel. 


His clear and concise paperwork and drawing skills complimented his great collaborative approach. Throughout his submission, Robert demonstrated and impressed with his great ability to respond and develop new ideas under the pressures of real world situations.

Robert’s unique ideas, and somewhat alternative approach, particularly impressed the judges.


£250 Francis Reid Award for runner up

This was awarded to Joe Price, a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. The judges said:

From the outset, Joe’s clear and concise presentation impressed the panel, and particularly impressed with his approach and attitude throughout.


His excellent and detailed research, along with a truly collaborative approach ultimately led to successful and impressive results. With bold use of angles, and clearly unafraid to use strong colours, Joe clearly demonstrated a clean and particularly stylistic approach to design.


£250 Excellence in Video Design for Live Performance supported by the ALD

This was awarded to Iain Syme, a student at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. The judges said:

Iain displayed a great understanding of how video can work to complement a production; the detailed explanation of his design choices, processes and implementation were discussed and well documented throughout his presentation.


It was Iain’s very well presented technical schematic diagrams, from control to point of view, that truly demonstrated his technical expertise. However, these simply did not overshadow the truly creative flair and approach he clearly has when working with video for live performance.


It was this creative approach that led the ALD to award Iain with this new bursary, celebrating excellence in this field, with the aim to continue to highlight such talent well into the future through offering this bursary to like minded students and graduates who submit their work for consideration.


The awards were organised by Sean Gleason on behalf of the ALD, with many thanks to judges, Natasha Chivers, Elliot Griggs, Matt Drury, Mark White, Andrew Voller, Mike Le Fevre, Lucy Carter and Richard Lambert.


The Michael Northen Bursary is made by the ALD each year, in collaboration with the Mousetrap Foundation, alongside the ALD’s very generous supporters at Electronic Theatre Controls, and at Stage Jobs Pro.


The award was established in 2000 after Michael received an MBE for his contribution to theatre and lighting design. His work on The Mousetrap can still be seen in the West End today. The Mousetrap Foundation, a theatre education charity dedicated to providing opportunities for young people to attend West End productions, administers the Bursary fund.