Skip to main content


2023 Honorary Fellow



Professor John A Williams is a world-renowned lighting designer and performing arts educator. His hundreds of lighting-design works spanning from intimate theatrical productions to large-scale events, and have won him accolades worldwide.


Professor Williams began his professional career with the Bristol Old Vic, honing his craft at one of the leading theatre companies in England. He eventually became its head of lighting, creating lighting designs for its productions for 12 years. That led to lighting-design commissions from major repertory companies and producers around the world. Professor Williams now has more than 300 shows to his name including productions in London’s West End and on Broadway in New York.


As an accomplished lighting consultant and designer, Professor Williams has won numerous awards including the Indiana Theatre Critics Awards for Best Lighting Design with Twelfth Night, while in Hong Kong the daily show A Symphony of Lights set a record for the largest permanent light and sound show in the Guinness Book of Records in 2005. It has been enjoyed by millions of locals and tourists for two decades. Professor Williams also designed similar large-scale multimedia productions in Macau and Thailand, in addition to numerous productions in Hong Kong. In 2008, Professor Williams was included in the International Who’s Who of Professionals in recognition of his professional excellence.


Prior to joining the Academy, Professor Williams worked as a part-time lecturer for the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for many years, and was invited to lecture at a number of prestigious schools including the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Yale University, California Institute of the Arts, Bangkok University, Chulalongkorn University and the Theatre Academy in Finland.


Professor Williams joined the Academy in 1988 as the head of lighting design for the School of Technical Arts. He was appointed Dean of the School in 2003. He led its transformation from the School of Technical Arts as it grew into what’s now the School of Theatre and Entertainment Arts, amalgamating various departments and programmes to meet the ever-changing demands of the fast-moving performing arts industry. He spearheaded the establishment of the School’s fast-track programme to provide training so that recruits can transition to entry-level positions within the industry. Professor Williams played a vital role in shaping the School in its early years, laying strong foundations that served it well in its growth and advancement.


Following his retirement in 2016, Professor Williams was appointed Emeritus Professor of the Academy, continuing to share his expertise regularly in masterclasses. Supporting the School as a scholarship donor, a patron of the School’s productions, and a staunch supporter of the School’s graduates through employment and mentoring, he also took on students in internship positions to work with international productions. Professor Williams had made great contributions and provided longstanding services to the School as well as to the Academy.