profiles - a light-hearted look at industry personalities

No. 14 in a continuing series

Caricatures by

David Lewis

Jackie Staines

Technical Editor and Lighting Designer

Jackie's fascination for the technical arts began at the tender age of four during her first visit to a theatre show. Sitting in the front row, she took the interval opportunity to whisper: "Mummy, I want to do that." When asked if she meant acting, Jackie replied: "No, the lights," and pointed up to the well-exposed FOH gallery, enjoying her first encounter with the Pattern 23. From then on, she was a regular at the local amateur theatre both as audience and later as an active backstage member.

She completely wasted her Grammar School education by spending more time in the amateur theatre than in the classroom, and was warned on her pre-‘O' level school report to "ensure that her outside activities do not lead to missed career opportunities..." - but as by the age of 16 stage lighting was her chosen career (Jackie is far too short for the police force), the school advice seemed irrelevant and she was accepted to attend an HND course in theatre lighting at Croydon College for the following academic year - at the premature age of 17.

In the meantime, her honest working class upbringing ("you don't get anything for nothing") led her to seek temporary employment in order to save up for college. So after leaving school at 16 with a pathetic array of ‘O' levels, she had her first brush with the publishing industry by working for a graphic artist to supplement her supplementary benefit. Her duties included some static photography, film and print developing, graphic layout (in the days when cut and paste meant a scalpel and cow gum) and Letraset typesetting. Other jobs during this ‘year-out' included packaging household items for small retailers, box-shifting in the Max-Pax warehouse, fruit picking and assembling Habitat salt and pepper mills on a piece-rate.

When the college term at last began, as a ‘special-potential' under-age student Jackie was placed in the embarrassing position of having to bring in permission notes from her mother allowing her to attend college field trips - including the most important ones to The Crown public house in London's West End. Her 18th birthday and an end to this ‘minor' embarrassment was celebrated in the lighting rig of Croydon's Warehouse Theatre where she was indulging in the "first theatrical use of the innovative new product - the PanCan" on a production of The Dragon.

Jackie graduated from college in 1985 with a Higher National Diploma in Lighting Design (with higher merit) and consequently took a job as sound operator for the West End production of Michael Frayn's Noises Off until the end of its London run in November 1986. A stint of touring with Northern Ballet Theatre was followed by a move to Scarborough in 1987 where she began her seven-year stretch at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round, firstly as assistant technician and latterly as chief technician and resident lighting designer. She took on the lighting design for more and more shows each year, in both auditoria, including several Alan Ayckbourn premieres.

Aside from lighting, sound and air-conditioning duties, Jackie also made two stage appearances at Scarborough, once via video asMonster Number Two' in ‘Calisto 5' wearing a fetching costume made entirely of cling film and bubble wrap, and secondly ‘live' in the Alan Ayckbourn late-night thriller ‘The Gruesome Twosome' as a ‘Charred Corpse'.

When the seven year itch became too strong to resist, Jackie took to the road again for five years and worked at a variety of jobs including show and installation design, training and teaching and also some installation work in TV studios and theme parks in venues both country and world-wide. Amongst her travels she spent time in Greece, China, Malaysia, Brunei, Dubai and Belgium where she worked on a freelance basis for ADB in product development. Her responsibilities included technical documentation for the Phoenix and Isis range of products, which led to her learning the rudimentary basics of desktop publishing by using PageMaker.

After this period of travel, the nesting instinct became too strong and Jackie decided to seek out permanent employment again. In February 2000 she joined Entertainment Technology Press as technical editor where has taken on the task of page layout for the ETP range of books, working with various Desk Top Publishing and Imaging programs, and liaising with the authors and printers. Of course it helps when you are an author as well, and her own book Lighting Techniques For-Theatre-In-The-Round was published in October 2000. It can be purchased online at, or by using the order form printed in most issues of this magazine.

Look out for the next subject in our Profile series...

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