James Nowell

James Nowell


James consults on all aspects of theatre design, with an emphasis on team leading and stagelighting system design.


+44 (0)20 7928 0000


James joined Charcoalblue after ten years working in Lighting and Production Management. As a Head of Lighting, he has looked after productions including Matilda, Billy Elliot and Chicago, and shortly before joining the team he worked as a Senior Lighting Technician at The National Theatre.

Whilst at Billy Elliot, James acted as Associate Lighting Designer for Billy Elliot Live, streamed to cinemas in September 2015. He has worked on several recorded and live production re-lights.

As a Production Manager, James worked on several London runs, UK and European tours and large scale gala performances at venues including Her Majesty’s Theatre, The Adelphi, The Queen’s Theatre and annual events at Indigo2.

James’ consultancy work for Charcoalblue includes Theatre Royal Drury Lane, W!ld Rice, Waterfront Theatre, and Resorts World Theatre in Singapore, Bolton Octagon, Belfast Grand Opera House, Leeds Beckett University, Mountview Academy, Aviva Studios in Manchester and Sadler’s Wells East.

Before joining the team, James worked as a Senior Lighting Technician at The National Theatre.

James and Chris Plevin, Director of Production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, take a tour of the theatre's workshops.

James hosts our booth at the Backstage Professional Development Conference, 2017.

What's the greatest lesson you've learnt as a Theatre Consultant?

Detail is everything. Everything we do takes terrific thought and planning to ensure our clients get the best out of their theatre.

What first sparked your love of theatre or performing arts?

They built a new performing arts space at my college with great facilities. No one knew how to work it so I played around and ended up providing technical support to the drama department. Lots of great memories but some highlights include: relighting Billy Elliot the musical on behalf of Rick Fisher for our Live broadcast which streamed to cinemas worldwide. Operating the show knowing it would be seen by millions was exhilarating; Looking after the N.Y.M.T 40th anniversary Gala at The Adelphi in 2016, a huge show with over 300 performers all teched in one afternoon session. A terrific organisation that has shaped many well-known actors careers; Running the lighting maintenance week in the Olivier Theatre at the NT, huge space dark for the week whilst we completed routine checks. Lots of humbling moments watched technical teams in a variety of fields lovingly looking after such a famous venue.

What qualities should a 'great performance space' have?

Accessible to all. Flexible formats and technical provisions to suit a creative team's needs.

We hear you’re a keen podcaster, how did you get into that?

Whilst working on a show another head of department and I used to have regular cuppas at the interval and chat about all sorts and make each other laugh. Our teams suggested we should record our chats into a podcast. After we’d finished on that job we decided to give it a go and roped in another, “host” and a producer and recorded a pilot. We’ve now done two series and several specials, hoping to launch a new series next year. It’s great fun and be done with such a small amount of tech.

James Nowell


Supporting the industry internationally since 2004

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade 2020 UK Theatre Tonic ITEAC Theatres Trust Theatre Communications Group Carbon Literate Orginisation - Silver
James Nowell

Get in touch with James.

Contact James

+44 (0)20 7928 0000