Mark Howett, originally from Busselton Western Australia and is proud to stand on Noongar Boodjar. He went on work experience as a 15-year-old in 1979 to the National Theatre, Perth, with dreams of becoming an actor. After two weeks, he joined the theatre family working as a lighting technician. He was later awarded a scholarship by the Department of Culture and the Arts to study Theatre Design, specialising in Lighting Design under the tutelage of Jennifer Tipton at the School of Drama, Yale University.
On his return he joined Opera Australia as a lighting realiser, recreating award-winning
international lighting designs. This is where Mark met the legendary director Jim Sharman who gave him his major break as the lighting designer on The Rake’s Progress for Opera Australia in 1993.
Mark is a multi-Greenroom and Helpmann Award winner who has worked not only as a lighting designer but a video and set designer for international productions in theatre, film, dance and opera. Over the past 10 years, he has focused his energy into directing more film and theatre. In 2016 he was appointed as Artistic Director of Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, Perth.
For Ochre he directed Kaya 2016, Good Little Soldier 2017, 3.3 2018, and the short film Kwongkan. For Perth Festival 2019 Mark has conceived and directed the stage production of Kwongkan, developed over three years with the ensemble in both regional WA and Kerala, India.
Mark has worked with leading names of international theatre including Directors Rufus Norris Cabaret, Savoy Theatre West End 2012, Neil Armfield Royal Opera at Covent Garden Sweeney Todd, 2004, Stephen Page Rites Bangarra/Australian Ballet 1999, Francesca Zambello Love of Three Oranges, Opera Australia 2004, Gale Edwards Buried Child, 2002, Cate Blanchett and Neil Armfield Sydney Theatre Company, The Secret River 2013, Arlene Phillips Starlight Express (video design), 2014.
Many of the productions Mark has designed the lighting for have successfully toured in Australia and overseas: No Sugar, 1990, Director Neil Armfield; Rites and Amalgamate, The Australian Ballet & Bangarra Dance Theatre, Choreographer Stephen Page, simulcasted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission; Crying Baby, 2003, by Stalker Theatre Company, toured with the Cultura Inglesia Festival to the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland, Director Rachel Swain; Cloudstreet, Director Neil Armfield, 2002, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York; The National Theatre, UK; Kennedy Centre, Washington; Theater Spektakel, Zürich and nationally in Australia. For Gulpilili, Adelaide Festival 2004, Company B Belvoir St, Mark was Associate Director, Lighting and Vision Designer.
West End Lighting Design Credits include Evita 2014, Cabaret 2012, A Country Girl 2010, Director Rufus Norris; Three Days In May 2011 Director Alan Strachan; Dreamboats and Petticoats 2009 and 2013 Directors Bob Thompson and Bill Kenwright; A Daughter is a Daughter 2009 Director Roy Marsden.
In 2004 Mark became a founding member of Splintergroup which evolved into THE FARM.
Between the Gold Coast in Australia and Berlin Germany, THE FARM is a collective of like-minded dance and theatre art practitioners.
Their dance-theatre works have toured internationally including Tanzplattform Germany, the Bite Festival Barbican UK, Venice Biennale Italy, and Sydney Festival. They were nominated for 11 Green Room Awards in February 2010, winning 6, including Best Concept and Realisation of Roadkill.
Mark regularly works with The Black Swan State Theatre Company of Western Australia as a lighting designer. Recent credits include Assassins 2017, Caucasian Chalk Circle 2016, Clinton The Musical 2016, and No Sugar 1999.
Mark also works with Western Australian contemporary dance company Co3 Australia, recent works include The Zone 2017, The Cry 2016, Reloaded 2016 and Frank Einstein 2017 & 2018. In 2019 Mark will co-direct, with Artistic Director Raewyn Hill, a new work he has conceived.
Mark lit the Helpmann-nominated 2017 Perth Festival season of Boorna Waanginy (Trees Speak) that returns in 2019. His list of 2018 projects includes lighting and video design for Spinifex Gum to be presented at the 2019 Sydney Festival and the opening ceremony of 2018 Adelaide Festival.
Mark is creating the set and lighting design for Hit Productions’ national tour of The Sapphires by Tony Briggs, that will also perform in remote aboriginal communities. For Spinifex Gum, the collaboration between Cat Empire’s Felix Reibl and Marliya from Gondwana Choir that created a sensation at the 2017 Adelaide Festival, Mark will recreate his lighting and video design for the vast chamber that is the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall for Sydney Festival 2019. He will also direct a new physical theatre work by the Sydney Opera House about the life of circus performers kidnapped from remote Cairns into P.C. Barnum’s Greatest Show. Mark’s Helpmann-nominated design for The Secret River will tour to the Edinburgh Festival and National Theatre in London in August 2019.
Mark was Coordinator and teacher of the lighting course at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), at Edith Cowan University from 1996 to 2000 and continues to teach at NIDA and at Edith Cowan University. Mark is a peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts. Mark was a Board Member of the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust (NSW) which developed the Aboriginal Playwright 1992 conference still successfully operating today.
- Robert Helpmann Award for Cloudstreet, Director: Neil Armfield, 2002, Lighting Design (touring e.g. Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York; The National Theatre, UK; Kennedy Centre, Washington; Theater Spektakel, Zürich and nationally in Australia).
- Robert Helpmann Award as “Best Presented Concert“ for Kura Tunga, Australian Arts Orchestra, Director: Patrick Nolan, 2005 Melbourne Concert Hall.
- Greenroom Award 2006 Best Lighting Design for The Love of Three Oranges, 2004, Opera Australia, Director: Francesca Zambello, Lighting Design.
- Greenroom Award 2009 for Roadkill, Splintergroup, 2009, Lighting Design Venice Biennale.