Q&A with Lighting Designer Jessica Hung Han Yun

27th March 2024

Home 5 Ayrton News 5 Q&A with Lighting Designer Jessica Hung Han Yun
We sat down with Jessica Hung Han Yun who is a multi award winning lighting designer specialising in installations, fashion, events, theatre, festivals and dance. Jessica recently included Ayrton fixtures […]

We sat down with Jessica Hung Han Yun who is a multi award winning lighting designer specialising in installations, fashion, events, theatre, festivals and dance. Jessica recently included Ayrton fixtures for her work on the London show My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican, where she won an Olivier Award for best lighting and a WhatsOnStage Award for best lighting design. We got to ask her a few questions about the show and her experience using the Ayrton fixtures.

What do you enjoy the most about being a lighting designer?

J: I really enjoy the diversity of projects within the field and being able to work on different shows. The opportunity to engage with various productions, each with its own unique demands and artistic challenges, is particularly rewarding.  And I guess you can just be creative, and I love trying new things and being a bit experimental even if they might sound a bit stupid, I just think why not? Let’s try it. So that’s why I really enjoy being a lighting designer.

What did you like the most about lighting this particular show?

J: Well, this was my childhood dream, I didn’t know that it would be at the time though. I watched all the Studio Ghibli films religiously and was a hardcore fan. So, when this came up I remember getting the email and being in the kitchen with my siblings and we were like freaking out, screaming round the kitchen table – it was really cute. But I was so excited from the get-go, because I was like this is such a special moment and this is going to be such a special show! And also, so many people love the movie and it will bring so much joy, as it’s a show for all ages and that’s what is amazing about Studio Ghibli and all their films, anyone can watch them. When I watch My Neighbour Totoro now, there’s things I didn’t understand when I was little – even the whole relationship with the mum being in hospital and the dad looking after 2 young girls on his own, and the struggle of having to work and being a single parent. And you just look back at that and you’re like I never saw any of that as a kid but now I understand. It’s just like also the everyday hardships of being a grown up, I guess.

What Ayrton fixtures are being used on this show?

J: We utilised Ghibli and Eurus fixtures from Ayrton.

Who supplied the Ayrton kit?

J: The Ayrton kit was supplied by White Light.

Why did you specify these particular fixtures?

J: The decision to incorporate Ghibli and Eurus fixtures stemmed from both prior experience and a desire to explore new possibilities. Having previously worked with the Ghibli fixtures, I felt they were the right fixture for what I needed. Additionally, my growing familiarity with Ayrton products prompted me to explore the potential of the Eurus fixtures.

What was your inspiration when you were lighting the show?

J: A lot of the inspiration came from the original film itself.  But there were also fun new scenes that were not from the film. I guess it was to do with, the emotion of the characters and seeing it through the eyes of the two girls, so it was very emotionally driven for me. Also trying to set the scene of the house, and where they’re living in the countryside and the vastness of it. Also getting really into the moments, when they first find a soot sprite and the excitement of it and seeing Totoro for the first time, you want the audience to feel the same excitement that the girls feel. And like the magic within that is so important, so that was my inspiration.

Did the fixtures perform to your expectations?

J: They did, they did exactly what they needed to do. The Eurus we used quite a lot as a key light and the Ghibli’s also to help to support within that, and they were really good for sculpting a lot on stage which is what I really enjoyed using them for.

What kind of colours?

J: There were oranges, but not saturated orange, like a pastel orange that I really liked. And there was also a certain blue that I found it had a beautiful silvery texture that I loved.

Was there anything you particularly liked about the fixtures?

J: The colours, there were some that I was like I wouldn’t be able to get this out of another fixture, I remember being like this is cool and really surprising.

Is there a key scene where you’ve used our fixtures that you particularly loved?

J: There is a particular scene that sticks out to me where I used them for the soot sprites leaving the house, and they have a moment with Satsuki (one of the girls) and the music in it is so beautiful. But I remember using the framing and being able to get the right colours out of them for the scene which was nice. The Ghibli’s were also able to get into some awkward positions which meant they were able to light certain parts of the stage.

  • 363958_My Neighbour Totoro production images_ 2023_2023_Web use
  • 363961_My Neighbour Totoro production images_ 2023_2023_Web use
  • 363991_My Neighbour Totoro production images_ 2023_2023_Web use
  • 363995_My Neighbour Totoro production images_ 2023_2023_Web use

For more information on the fixtures used click here:

EURUS | Ayrton | Ambersphere

GHIBLI | Ayrton | Ambersphere

Credits

My Neighbour Totoro

Adapted by Tom Morton-Smith

From the feature animation by Hayao Miyazaki

Music by Joe Hisaishi

Lighting Design: Jessica Hung Han Yun

Directed by Phelim McDermott

Photos by Manuel Harlan © RSC with Nippon TV