James C Mc Fetridge has been working as a lighting designer for the past twenty years. His earliest designs were in the Lyric Theatre Belfast, and included Stones in his Pockets, which James re-lit in the West End (originally in the New Ambassadors, followed by a three year run in the Duke of York), and then on Broadway (John Golden Theatre, New York). His design was also used in various Irish, UK, US and World tours.
He has had one other West End show (Alone it Stands, Duchess Theatre), and has lit shows in other London venues, including several shows in the Tricycle Theatre and a week-long residency in the Millennium Dome. He has lit shows in Canada, Australia and New York, and his designs have toured all across the UK and Ireland.
James has lit all types of shows – theatre, musicals, opera and dance – and in all sizes of venues, from concert halls to studio theatres, opera houses to bespoke installations. He has lit shows in practically every theatre in Northern Ireland, and has worked with the majority of local companies, including the Lyric Theatre, Bruiser, Tinderbox, GBL, Green Shoot, C21, Raw Life, Big Telly, Cahoots, Aisling Ghear, Ransom, Kabosh, Rainbow Factory, Kids in Control, Ulster Association of Youth Drama, and Youth Music Theatre UK, amongst many others.
James holds a BA Hons in Theatre Studies and an MA in Contemporary Theatre Practice.
At first glance, Brendan at the Chelsea gives all the appearance of a requiring a simple lighting design – the inside of a hotel room in New York, starting in the late morning of one day, progressing through the afternoon, evening, night, and finally climaxing with the new dawn of the following morning. With the set featuring a large window, through which the changing sunlight could stream across the room, or through which we could see the dim streetlight or the pale moonlight in the nocturnal sections, the play appears to demand a more realistic, naturalistic approach to the lighting design.
But the play holds hidden treasures for the lighting designer – dream sequences, flashbacks, the blurring between fact and fiction, between now and then, memories blurring into fantasy, fevered hallucinations crashing back to reality, all within the same environment of the dingy hotel room.
Originally produced in a studio theatre, the main practical consideration was to produce a design that met both the naturalistic and non-naturalistic requirements of the script using the lantern stock available in the venue. Working closely with the director and the technical team, the lighting design attempted to encapsulate all that the script required, remaining sympathetic to the story and the performances.