Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Kelli Zezulka

PhD researcher

Clothworkers' South 3.08

BA Theatre (University of Mary Washington), HND Stage Management and Technical Theatre (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art), MRes (University of Leeds)

My professional background is in lighting (both as a designer and as a production electrician). My research explores the role of language and agency amongst the production team, with the lighting designer at the centre.


After completing my undergraduate degree in theatre from the University of Mary Washington, I trained on the stage management and technical theatre course at LAMDA, where I specialised in lighting. Three days after graduating, I started as the lighting board operator at London’s Royal Court Theatre, programming all shows in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs and working with the UK’s top lighting designers. Twelve months later, I was promoted to lighting assistant. I left the Court after three and a half years for a three-month contract with the Royal Shakespeare Company, then moved to Leeds where I worked as a production electrician at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. While there, I completed an MRes at University of Leeds, researching the history of lighting design at the Royal Court Theatre. Since leaving WYP in 2010 I have been working in corporate communications and as a freelance lighting designer for small- to mid-scale theatre and opera in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Research Interests

Language and lighting
Lighting design education
Creative collaboration
Early lighting designers in the UK (1950s to 1960s)
Translation, translanguaging and code-switching
Interactional sociolinguistics


I am an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/individuals/fellowship/associate-fellow. I am also a freelance lighting design tutor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

For PCI, I teach (or have taught) on the following modules:
PECI1703 Performance Project 1
PECI1708 Exploring the Musical
PECI3700 Independent Research Project

Elsewhere at the university, I teach for LEAP (Leeds Excellence in the Arts Programme), running seminars in language and conflict, national identity, and the #TakeaKnee protests in the US. For the Researcher Training Hub (part of ODPL at Leeds) I run workshops on qualitative research methods, specifically interviews.


PCI postgraduate rep
Leeds UCU PGR officer
Member of Faculty Research Ethics Committee

Research Centres & Groups

Performing Light network co-convenor (performinglightblog.wordpress.com)
Performance Training, Preparation and Pedagogy research group (PCI)
Mental health and wellbeing in the arts working group

External Appointments

Editor of Focus, the magazine of the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD): www.ald.org.uk/focus
Head of external communications, ALD: www.ald.org.uk 
Editorial assistant, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training blog: www.theatredanceperformancetraining.org
Peer reviewer, Journal of Arts Writing by Students (JAWS)

PhD Thesis

The language of light: how lighting designers use language and exercise agency in creative collaboration

Professional Practice

For a full list of credits, see www.ald.org.uk/kellizezulka.

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