The Hemsley Lighting Programs 16th Annual Lighting Portfolio Review

The Hemsley Lighting Programs 16th annual Lighting Portfolio Review will be held March 27-29, 2020 in New York City at Ballet Hispanico Studios - 167 West 89th Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam). This unique opportunity will allow graduate lighting students to enter into an extended dialogue with leading theater professionals for critique of their portfolios. The day-long format allows time for informal question-and-answer sessions about professional life as well as networking opportunities with peers, Broadway production electricians, working designers, and artistic directors.

The transition of a student to the professional world is one of the most anticipated and intimidating moments of a young designer’s life. Despite the years of training and hard work, the leap into the unknown can be nerve-racking. The Hemsley Lighting Portfolio Review is designed to give the student a chance to meet first- hand with professional designers so that they can improve their portfolios and get answers and advice from those already working in the industry.

With over 30 years of experience in offering training opportunities to young designers, the Hemsley Lighting Programs honor the life and spirit of Gilbert V. Hemsley Jr., who was dedicated to helping students in lighting and life. The Hemsley Lighting Portfolio Review continues this mission of creating opportunities to assist students in their transition to the professional world.

The Portfolio Review Overview

Each student should prepare two different ways of presenting your work - interview/portfolio style and an exhibit/display style. During the day on Sunday, you will participate in 4 individual review sessions. These sessions will be at tables that are not part of your exhibit area. Each of these sessions will last approximately 30-40 minutes and will alternate with a free session in between. 

During your free sessions in the morning you will join an informal Roundtable hosted this year by a diverse assortment of Associate Broadway Designers who will speak about a variety of subjects relating to you as you get started on your careers. These Roundtable sessions will not require you to show your work, but will provide an opportunity to discuss with the designer topics about careers as Lighting Designers. The afternoon free sessions will provide time to set up your display for the evening exhibit and reception.

How to Apply

Participants are nominated by their academic advisors.  Letters of nomination can be sent via email to and must be received before February 15, 2020  Students must be in the final year of their degree program.  MFA nominations are given priority unless the student attends a university or college that doesn’t have a graduate program.  Additional undergraduate nominations will be considered as space allows.

The Hemsley Lighting Portfolio Review Schedule  (Tentative based on 2019 schedule)


Friday, March 27

6:00-6:30pm Dinner and Check-in at Lincoln Center David H. Koch Theater

6:30-9:30pm Associates and Assistants Seminar

Hosted by Broadway Associate Designer, Craig Stelzenmuller

Saturday, March 28

9:00-9:30am Check in and Coffee at David Rubenstein Atrium, Lincoln Center, 62ndStreet and Columbus Ave.

9:30am Bus departs to 4Wall Entertainment Lighting in Moonachie, New Jersey

10:00-12:00pm Manufacturer’s Demos

12:00-12:30pm Lunch provided by 4Wall

1:30-4:30pm Product Showcase

4:30pm Bus departs to ETC New York

5:00-7:00pm Designer Talkback featuring Bob Barnhart, Emmy award winning television and event designer.Reception hosted by ETC.

Evening Free

Sunday, March 29

Ballet Hispanico Studios, 167 W. 89thStreet, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, NYC.

9:00-9:30am Check-in and Coffee/Breakfast snacks

9:30am-10:00am Welcome and Introduction

10:00am-1:00pm Review Sessions/Mini-Seminars

Each student will be scheduled 4 different 40-minute review sessions over the course of the day (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon). Each participant’s order will vary, but will include:

o   A one-on-one session with a professional lighting designer

o   A panel of 2-3 professional lighting designers

o   A panel of scenic and costume designers and directors

o   A one-on-one with a Production Electrician

Each artist will review your portfolio and discuss your preparation for the upcoming transition to professional life. These sessions will not be back-to-back. In the morning session you will alternately rotate through review times and Roundtable discussions.

Your review schedule will be one of these two tracks:


Session 1 10:00-10:40am

Designer Roundtable 10:00-10:40am

Designer Roundtable 10:45-11:25am


Session 1 10:45-11:25am

Session 2 11:30-12:10pm

Designer Roundtable 11:30-12:10pm

Designer Roundtable 12:15-12:55pm

Session 2 12:15-12:55pm


Lunch 1:00-2:00pm Catered and served on site.

2:00-5:00pm Continued Review Sessions and Student Portfolio Display Set Up


Session 3 2:00-2:40pm

Business Seminars 2:00-2:40pm

Business Seminars 2:45-3:25pm


Session 3 2:45-3:25pm

Session 4 3:30-4:10pm

Display Set up 3:30-4:10pm

Display Set up 4:15-4:55pm

Session 4 4:15-4:55pm

5:00-8:00pm Reception and Design Exhibit (light sandwiches provided)

The reception and exhibit is open to the public. Please invite friends and colleagues.

8:00-8:30pm Breakdown displays

Return foam core boards and display materials supplied by Hemsley Lighting Programs.


Lighting Portfolio Review Guidelines

Travel, lodging, food (except for lunch March 28th and lunch and reception on March 29th) are the responsibility of the participants.
All Faculty are invited to observe and participate. Second year Grads can also come as observers.

Your portfolio may be in whatever format you choose (digital or printed), but must include at least one full scale printed light plot, with section, paperwork, and magic sheet.  Photos may be digital or printed, but an Internet connection is not available during the individual reviews or Design Exhibit.

Please Note: The individual portfolio reviews do not take place in the
Design Exhibit area.  These are separate interviews and take place around tables in other rooms.  Your portfolio should be portable, and independent from your display materials, however, you may choose to include your portfolio in your area at the exhibit/reception from 5-8pm.

Design Exhibit Display Area: You will each get a 6’ table and 1-30x40 black panel and 2-20x30 black foam core panels to arrange however you like.  Some easels will be provided if you wish to use them in the arrangement of the panels. Electricity will be provided if requested in advance. You must provide your own table covering.

You cannot use tape or other sticky adhesive to attach your materials to the foam core boards.  Push-pins and T-pins are provided. Boards will stand on easels or be taped together on the back to facilitate standing on tables.  

Please direct questions and applications to:

Mark Stanley
Resident Lighting Designer
New York City Ballet

20 Lincoln Center
NYC, NY 10023

I was brought in at the last moment to redo Lohengrin at the Metropolitan Opera and Rudy Kuntner, the lighting designer, got sick. I had just read it on the airplane. As soon as we landed I went out and I bought about 50 pounds of eight inch diameter chocolate chip cookies. Anybody who came to that desk and wanted to help me light, I’d give them an eight inch chocolate chip cookie. It would take them so long to eat it that I could get lighting done while everybody was busy eating chocolate chip cookies.
— Gilbert Hemsley