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Inspired in self-isolation (11)

Inspired in self-isolation (11)

With Covid-19 lockdowns worldwide and health authorities urging people to self-isolate and practice social distancing on a massive scale as part of an enormous effort to #FlattenTheCurve of this global pandemic … we are reaching out to industry friends, colleagues, associates, partners, etc., and asking them to share their #StayHome and #QuarantineandChill activities with us during this extraordinary time.

A Heads Up with Jordan Tinniswood

Jordan is a full-time creative designer for Robe, based in the UK and working as part of a dedicated team who design everything from exhibition stands and live performance shows to product videos for Robe throughout the year and across the world! He works closely with Robe’s lead creative, Nathan Wan.

Robe: Where are you right now?

Jordan: Holed up in my house in Northamptonshire.

Robe: How did you fill the time whilst isolating / on lockdown?

Jordan: Fortunately, I could still do some work from home - not quite programming a major exhibition stand show but at least I didn’t have to switch off completely! Aside from that I very much enjoyed my daily dose of exercise walking around the village with my family. And, let’s be honest, catching up on plenty of TV series’ I wouldn’t normally get a chance to watch …  even if they are only on ‘in the background!’

Robe: What is the most creative thing you’re able to do in isolation?

Jordan: As I mentioned, work didn’t completely stop so there’s a couple of projects ongoing.

Robe: Are you looking after anyone else during the Covid-19 crisis?

Jordan: Yes … in January my son was born so I’m enjoying focusing all my attention on him! I feel enormously lucky to be able to spend as much time as this with him and it is one great positive to come out of the current situation.

Robe: Has anyone inspired you since this started?

Jordan: I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that health and social care workers rank highly in terms of inspiration for all of us now.


My partner is an early year’s practitioner who, had she not been on maternity leave, would be caring for other people’s children. So, I have met plenty of people who have worked with her who are still heading out to work to enable NHS and other key workers to do their jobs.

On that note, I have many friends who work for the NHS. I recently learnt that a childhood friend who is now a doctor, contracted Covid-19 whilst working on an isolation ward. Testament to her commitment to helping others, she became someone who would call vulnerable people during her isolation period, keeping spirits up whilst they are isolating. Now, having finished her isolation period, she is back working to save the lives of those who are most affected by the virus.

Robe: Favourite book / movie / Netflix series / viral video

Jordan: I’m massively missing my live sports right now, so I’ve been getting my fix via  Netflix series Formula 1 Drive to Survive (docu-series offering viewers exclusive and intimate access to those in the fast lane of one the world's greatest racing competitions) and The English Game (historical sports drama TV mini-series developed by Julian Fellowes for Netflix about the origins of modern football in England).

Jordan Tinniswood


Aside from sports, I’ve been enjoying re-watching some old favourites such as Band of Brothers (dramatized account of "Easy Company" - part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment - assigned to the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division during World War II) and The Pacific (a 2010 American war drama mini-series produced by HBO).

Robe: What is the first thing you’d like to do when we are through it?

Jordan: Sadly, we will be having to stay at home for my partner’s birthday this year so I think making up for not being able to do much on that day will be a priority! She keeps mentioning various spas that are in our area for some reason, I think there might be a hint or two in that!

Robe: Own question / answer / message of solidarity or something you’d like to say?

Jordan: It seems rather odd to me, that suddenly - now our relative freedom has been taken away - all we want to do is go out and socialise!

I’ve spoken more frequently with my family now than I ever, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. The whole Coronavirus situation has put many things in perspective for some people; workers like supermarket staff have become the beating heart of the nation, rightfully receiving praise and gratitude for their efforts.

When this all ends and we are all released back into the mad world we are used to, take a moment to remember how blissful it was when we all had a chance to have a break and take stock of what was most important!

A Heads Up with Neil Holloway

Usually touring with a variety of productions from Queen and Adam Lambert, Melanie C and The Overtones to Orbital and many more, lighting designer / director Neil talks to us from the lively UK metropolis of Liverpool, known for its friendliness, expansive humour and in ‘normal’ times … great nightlife!


Robe: Where are you right now?

Neil: Obviously at home in Liverpool … riding out this crazy situation we are in.

Robe: How are you spending time whilst isolating / on lockdown?

Neil: Learning new software, getting some designs completed that were due to be out now but may yet be … whenever all this is over!

Also getting out and keeping active on my bike / walking. I think it is really important that we keep our minds and bodies active as, when and where we can.

Robe: What’s the most creative thing you’re able to do whilst in isolation?

Neil: That’s a good question! Probably creating the new designs for a show that is getting a big redesign from what the artists usually do – it’s a big step for both me and the artists and their creative team … or learning my way around Vectorworks and Depence 2.

Robe: Are you looking after anyone else during the Covid-19 crisis? Like neighbours or others in the family?

Neil: Yeah I am, my Mother has been put on the ‘high risk’ list and isn’t allowed to leave her house at all, which also means my Dad can’t leave either. So, seeing they have all they need, plus ensuring that having to stay away from their grandchildren and other family is not getting to them too much either!

Robe: Has anyone particularly inspired you since this crisis started?

Neil: I think I’m going to say a collective sweep across our industry! It has been really nice to see people trying their best for everyone in our huge extended family, whether that’s setting up training, online quizzes and pubs or just generally being there for everyone else! It’s great, inventive and makes me proud to be a part of it!

Robe: What has been your favourite book / movie / Netflix or TV series / viral video / Games / music?

Neil: I have to say, an oldie but a favourite. My girlfriend and I have been watching the Star Wars series in chronological order! It has been years since I’ve seen many of them and it has really reminded me of how good it is!

Oh, and also, Pink Floyd released the whole live recording of Pulse Live and it really reminded me of what an outstanding production that is, not only for its time but even now, it’s mind-blowing! Marc Brickman (legendary director, producer, lighting, and production designer, renowned for his highly original work with Pink Floyd) is my hero … and he and THAT show are the reason I do what I do today!

Robe: What’s the first thing you’d like to do when we are through this crisis?

Neil: See all my friends, go out to the countryside and go walking and also … THE PUB! Wow, that’ll be a good day!


Neil Holloway

Robe: Own question / answer / message of solidarity or something you’d like to say?

Neil: I’m sure I’m not the first to say this … but I’m in the mindset that this is a massive chance for us as an industry and even planet to have a reset on what we do! The number of excess elements we consume and produce needs to change and I really think this could help us in doing that!

While this is hard for us, and I do love my job and am looking forward to getting back to lighting some shows, I’m also really enjoying time with my girlfriend and doing “normal’ things!

I think it’s a good opportunity for all of us to appreciate the importance of the people we love and if possible to maximise the hand we are dealt with currently and use it as a chance to learn new things / enjoy the people we love and be there for all who need us!


A Heads Up with Lutz John

Freelance lighting and stage designer Lutz would have been touring with “Einstürzende Neubauten” in Thessaloniki (as of 07.07.2020). His main focus for the last several years has been concert lighting and projects with live bands as a stage, lighting and production designer. His passion lies in the scenography to give projects a fully harmonious form and content, a process that Stuttgart architects ATELIER BRÜCKNER called “form following content” which he finds very fitting. He’s currently engaged working on an exhibition in Hamburg.

Robe: Where are you right now?

Lutz: At home in Hannover.

Robe: How are things emerging from the lockdown in your region / country?

Lutz: Hannover is very green, that's why many people spend their time in the parks and city forests. There's a drive-in stage where a few people honk their horns to watch bands on FM ... I've heard that the city of Hannover is now supporting art and cultural projects with money from the culture budget, which couldn't be used until now because of the lockdown. I think this is a good approach.

Robe: How did you spend your time during lockdown?

Lutz: I have had the great luck to live in a relatively large apartment in the middle of the city. The house has a large garden – and it's doing really well this year.

In the beginning, I worked on projects to give me the feeling that the industry will definitely start again soon. And then ... there was a big black hole that sucked all the energy out of me in terms of creativity. I couldn't even draw or paint anymore. I was at a loss with myself.

It went from a hundred to zero and I wondered what I was actually doing here. It was good that the garden was there. It helped me a lot to sort myself out.

Robe: What are your biggest concerns / considerations as lockdowns ease worldwide?

Lutz: I think we have been very lucky in Germany so far.

For me, it is a sheer horror to see how some people behave so thoughtlessly. It worries me. Especially when you look at the USA, Great Britain and other countries. Of course, I understand that a virus is still very abstract for us, and it has so far affected relatively few people.

But the above-mentioned countries also show that things can be done quite differently, worse.


Lutz John

Robe: Do you have any thoughts / predictions about how and when live events and the industry will re-start?

Lutz: No more production will go on the road this year. I think sometime in 2021 it can start again.

Luckily for designers the production process starts earlier. Therefore, I will work on something in my studio already this year.

Robe: Going forward, how do you think live events and the entertainment technology industry will change in a post-Covid 19 world before there is a vaccine widely available?

Lutz: They will be much smaller than the big shows.

One problem is that when it starts again, we will have been putting off shows for almost 12 months, all of which were conceived based on pre-pandemic concepts. Bands who completely cancelled their tours will certainly be more flexible to do something new.


Robe: How sustainable do you think these changes will be?

Lutz: I think that our industry has been very overheated in recent years. Both in terms of new lamp systems, but also in terms of production sizes.

Every year there were a crazy number of new fixtures, another light from company A and another one from company B.

In addition, the productions became bigger and bigger, no matter whether they were concerts or trade fairs. My impression is that this does not always go along with quality.

That will certainly change. Artists will certainly become more careful and instead of 10 trucks, they will only drive off with 4. I could imagine that. Of course, this is also a sign that there is a demand to go to concerts. That is of course very good.

Fortunately, there will always be concerts.

Robe: Has anyone / anything particularly inspired you since this crisis started?

Lutz: I think all the people who use the time now to change something, to make something for themselves or others, are great. My buddy Lars already got me out of a downer once or twice.

Robe: Own question / answer / message of solidarity or something you’d like to say?

Lutz: Don't look too much at social media. Read books, go out and enjoy life in spite of everything... keeping your distance and wearing a mask.

A Heads Up with Tom Youings

Just completing his second year of University at Guildford School of Acting, Tom is studying Theatre Production, specialising in Lighting, and his goal is to become a lighting programmer after graduation. Alongside studies, he works as a freelance lighting technician to gain invaluable experience with rental companies on assorted productions and festivals.


TOM youings

Robe: Where are you right now?

Tom: Currently living in a student house in Guildford, Surrey.

Robe: What are you doing to fill the time whilst isolating / on lockdown? 

Tom: I’m taking the time to improve as a technician as much as possible. I am updating a visual CV on my professional Instagram @tom_youings.

I am also taking this time to reconnect with some of the amazing people I have met over the last year and a half – I’ve realised that when times are busy, it is easy to lose connection with some of these people.

I want to reconnect with these industry professionals, maintain these valuable contacts and nurture these friendships, gaining inspiration from how others are using this time to better themselves.

Alongside this I am going to take some time for myself, doing things I enjoy like playing video games and teaching myself to play my guitar (currently rather unsuccessfully!)

Robe: What is the most creative thing you can do in isolation?

Tom: When the lockdown started, I decided I wanted to practice and improve my programming skills. My initial plan was to use the ETC Offline Editor to practice different aspects of programming.

I decided to reach out to some friends at Storm Lighting, a hire company I work for regularly, to ask if they owned any LX Keys I could borrow to make this easier. Unfortunately, they didn’t but they have now allowed me very generously to borrow one of their Eos Programming Wings! Thank you, Storm Lighting!

So, I can link my desktop to the programming wing and use it as a console instead of my PC’s keyboard. I have also networked this to my laptop, allowing me to use the Capture visualising software and their pre-made rigs with the desk. My plan is to work through ETC’s training sessions on their website, as well as attempting to create some light shows to go alongside some of the original music that my best friend has on Spotify.

Robe: Are you looking after anyone else during the Covid-19 crisis?

Tom: I am not currently looking after anyone specifically, but I am trying to keep in contact with as many of my friends and family as possible.

At this time, staying indoors can really take a toll on mental health so I believe if we can stay in contact with many people, fill our days catching up with old mates, it will help each of us stay positive through this confusing time.

Robe: Has anyone inspired you since this started?

Tom: The whole industry is inspiring me.

It has been incredible to see everyone from around the world coming together through social media to keep our industry alive and keep the joy that theatre and events bring to everyone.

Someone specific who has inspired me is my lighting tutor at GSA, Mig Burgess. She always puts her students and friends first and is using this time to help us progress as much as possible in our studies.

Alongside this, she is using her own experience of mental health issues to try help keep people positive through a time where individuals’ mental health can really be negatively affected. She does this by going live on Facebook posts and Zoom meetings where she is unbelievably supportive and honest about her personal situation and really helps others by providing amazing advice. But most of all, Mig is a super-friendly person to talk to. Thank you, Mig!

Robe: Favourite book / movie / Netflix series / viral video

Tom: Currently my favourite TV show is The Walking Dead (American post-apocalyptic horror TV series for AMC based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard) which I have been watching for years.

I am also a massive fan of the Marvel Universe, so those films and TV shows are a fun way to fill my time.

As well as this I am trying to watch as many shows as I can online. An example of this is the musical “Eugenius” which I watched a couple of weeks ago. It is an incredible show and seeing the amazing lighting design by Andrew Ellis made me so happy to be part of such an inspiring and fun industry.

Robe: What’s the first thing you would like to do when we are through it?

Tom: I honestly cannot wait to work on a production again! The work I do is genuinely what I love. I have such a passion for theatre lighting I cannot imagine doing anything else. The feeling I get when I am sitting behind a lighting desk in a theatre is unlike any other and I can’t wait to be part of the teams that create incredible productions again.

Robe: Own question / answer / message of solidarity or something you would like to say?

Tom: Now is a time to be proud of what we do. I know the industry has physically come to a stop and that’s scary but look around you. Look at how people are getting through this tough time. They are listening to music, watching TV, films, and streams of shows. What we help create, no matter what your specialist area, is really helping the world through this crisis.

I am proud to work in an industry where we can create something that takes the audience away from the outside world, they can forget about issues like this Covid-19 virus and can have fun and be joyful. This is what people need right now.

I am so proud of what we create, and you should be too.