The Questors Archive logo




I first met Bob Anderson when, having just joined The Questors and wishing to do some lighting, I was introduced to him as the man who could teach me the mysteries of the old theatre switchboard. I met him again when I volunteered for the building work (those were the days of 'Questors Build') and found Bob bricklaying, or mixing concrete, or installing wiring. To work at Questors at that time meant acquiring a variety of skills, and I think it may fairly be said that Bob had acquired more than any other member, with the possible exception of Alfred Emmet.

Some of those skills were slightly strange ones. There was a certain incongruity about the way in which Bob, a graduate electrical engineer, so adeptly knotted in new cords to raise and lower the dimmer electrodes on the old switchboard, or stirred salt into the dimmer pots to adjust the resistance to match the load. The Questors used water dimmers right up to the time that the old theatre was demolished, and the switchboard itself was a strange device which, like Stonehenge, belonged to many periods, and utilised certain engineering techniques which one hopes are not too widely practised.

Bob joined The Questors in 1957, when building activity was at its height and plans for the new playhouse building were taking shape. As well as assisting in the building of the Shaw Room, the Stanislavsky Room and the Paintshop, Bob was a member of the committee that prepared the plans for the new theatre. The manner in which The Questors changed, in the space of about one year, from a tiny theatre with ancient equipment to a much larger house newly equipped to a professional scale, is a fascinating part of the theatre's history. The smoothness of that change reflects the care and attention to detail which went into the planning, and this is especially evident in the lighting system, which Bob designed and largely installed.

'Lighting by Bob Anderson' is a familiar programme credit, for Bob has lit many productions in just over twelve years at Questors. He has been responsible for Questors lighting since the new theatre opened, indeed he helped to open it by lighting the first production: Ibsen's Brand. He became Chairman of the Lighting Committee at its inception, and has held that post ever since. He has been very much concerned to improve the standard of lighting, and to stimulate new ideas and approaches. He has frequently tried to break down the distinction between set design and lighting design, which leads to these two aspects of the stage picture being regarded as separate entities. By venturing into set design himself, he becomes able to put his ideas into practice and we await the results with much interest.

His sternest critic is likely to be his wife Mary, who is well known as a Questors designer. They have two young daughters who also have ideas about design. Professionally, Bob is respected as an illuminating engineer, and his diligence in testing new equipment offered to the BBC has earned him the nickname of 'Breakages Ltd.' from one well-known manufacturer. He is currently engaged in preparing Alexandra Palace for the University of the Air, which is perhaps something of a relaxation after the mammoth task of re-equipping television studios to meet the needs of colour.

QUESTOPICS 47(A) May 1970

Lighting by Bob Anderson
1961 Henry IV Part 1
1962 Month in The Country, A
1963 Fire Raisers, The
1963 Malcontent, The
1964 Altheim
1964 Brand
1964 Fairground Music
1964 Nathan and Tabileth
1964 Six
1965 Big Soft Nellie
1966 Macbeth
1967 Flying Dutchman, The
1968 Uncle Vanya
1969 Man and Superman
1970 Restoration of Arnold Middleton, The
1970 School for Scandal
1971 Hamlet
1973 Ghost Train, The
1973 Time and the Conways
1974 Cocktail Party, The
1974 Escurial
1974 Grand Vizier, The
1975 King Lear
1976 Colleen Bawn, The
1978 Ashes
1979 Vampire, The