profiles - a light-hearted look at industry personalities
No. 94 in a continuing series
Managing Director, White Light North
John Anderton started life in Canterbury, and by the age of 16 was selling ice creams to patrons at the annual pantomime at the old Marlowe Theatre (now extinct). That was in 1966. He feels that his career peaked at this point, and what followed went somewhat downhill. In 1969, however, he escaped to Newcastle, and had his first day-job at the Jesmond Playhouse (also now extinct), as assistant electrician.
"It was a diet of stottie cake, Newcastle Brown and three-weekly rep," explains John. "Healthy stuff for a youngster." After a short season at Jesmond he moved west to spend a summer with the travelling Century Theatre (also now extinct) around the Lake District. "I lit Hamlet with 12 turning variacs," he explains, "and it was one of my best designs. The worst bit was on the snap blackout because the generator started bouncing around the car park."
Returning to Newcastle he spent a season at the new University Theatre (now the Playhouse) before going to Swindon to open the Wyvern Theatre (still going).
"I was then offered a job at Ballet Rambert (now the Rambert Dance Company) by an old colleague from the Marlowe, Maurice Brill. "I grabbed the chance and I didn't look back for the next decade," explains John. "The main lighting designers for Rambert at that time were John B Read, David Hersey and myself - with set designers of the calibre of Ralph Koltai and Nadine Bayliss. It was all heady stuff."
It was also good fun, but hard work - and right up John's street. Being paid to travel the world was a new concept to him, and he has made many an embarrassing speech in foreign embassies. However, he soon became Stage Director of Rambert and enjoyed all the best digs around the UK.
"I've still got a receipt from the Red Lion in Oxford - seven nights B and B - £6.30 and one evening meal - 60p. Marvellous! There are still a lot of old friends on my Christmas card list from that era, and we have an occasional get together."
In 1979, and a "burnt-out wreck", he went for a short rest at the Roundhouse in London, and met up with John Simpson and the new White Light company. "We decided between us that WL should have a northern outpost, so I set up shop in Yorkshire. The locals thought I was a bit mad, so I explained that I was ‘just up on missionary work'.''
The last 20 odd years has seen WLN become a smaller, but perfectly formed sibling to its larger Wimbledon brother.
John enjoys his cricket, his garden, and his three daughters, and if possible, a healthy cash flow. He has written a period play, and is currently looking for a rich producer. He owns an apartment in Russia, overlooking the River Volga, and escapes there with his Russian wife whenever possible.
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