Shaman‐Artist by Mandi Lynn
CV (pdf format 2.8MB) (download to view)
STEPHANIE SINCLAIRE LIGHTSMITH
Stephanie is a filmmaker, painter and writer who has forged a diverse multi-media award-winning career in film, theatre, art and writing. She began as painter and poet, publishing her poetry in anthologies as well as the solo volume BURNT OFFERING and attended the noted California College of Art studying Fine Art and literature. Her life has been a continual creative journey with quite a few unexpected twists and turns.
As Associate Artistic Director of the Kings Head Theatre, which she ran with her husband, founder Dan Crawford, she oversaw the creative elements of 6 theatrical productions a year from development to production–choosing the plays, dramaturgical development, casting, finance, assembling production teams and co-producing, working with playwrights such as Steven Berkoff, Tom Stoppard, and Anthony Minghella, (another theatre to film crossover). In the early 90’s she began writing and directing her own plays and musicals. In the late 90’s she found the fulfilment of her vocational and career aspirations when she crossed from theatre to film. Here her background as an artist, storyteller and theatrical practitioner merged into her ultimate medium of expression for her world view.
Stephanie’s first film (Co-Producer) THE DANCE OF SHIVA was an Academy Award Finalist, 2000 and featured Kenneth Branagh, Sam West, Sanjeev Bhasker & Paul McGann with Academy Award-winning DoP Jack Cardiff (A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus). It told the little known story of the Hindu involvement in the WWI. She developed the story, cast and financed and learned a great deal from the luminary advisors, BAFTA and Academy Awad winners, John Box, Production Designer and John Mitchell, Sound.
Stephanie then adapted, directed and produced THE TELL-TALE HEART, based on Poe’s short story, to continue to work with Jack Cardiff who became her mentor. Production Designer Peter Murton (Bond films, Lion in Winter, Dr Strangelove) was also on board and it was presented at the Art Institute of Chicago’s 7th European Film Festival. It was later remastered by the British Film Institute from the 35mm print for their classic archive collection.
In 2004 she wrote, produced and co-directed A MAVERICK IN LONDON, a documentary about The Kings Head Theatre and its founder, Dan Crawford, featuring Joanna Lumley, Alan Rickman, Sir Tom Stoppard, Steven Berkoff, Sir Antony Sher and many others. A MAVERICK IN LONDON was presented on SkyArts for three years and as a Channel Four special.
In 2004/5 she wrote, directed and produced SILENCE BECOMES YOU (feature) with Alicia Silverstone and Sienna Guillory distributed in the US through First Look Entertainment and internationally through Sequence/ Handmade and now Moviehouse Entertainment UK.
After Dan’s death, she returned to the theatre as Creative Director. Compelled to leave her film career to keep the theatre going, she applied her knowledge gained in the film industry creating theatre slates along the film model. Her own highlights during that time include adapting Peter Pan using out of print books of deleted scenes and a lost screenplay by Barrie and convincing Leonard Bernstein’s estate to allow the first ever world stage premiere of Bernstein’s brilliant early score to accompany it. With a costumier from Harry Potter, Gary Page, choreography by Marc Urquhart and a chamber orchestra led by the noted West End musical director Mike Dixon, Barrie’s masterpiece was restored to the dark, moving tale he had intended, an antidote to the pantomime it has become. Her adaptation was also produced along with Bernstein’s score at the Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, California.
Stephanie and Dan developed the Kings Head Theatre Young Directors Training Scheme which has trained countless young directors and was for many years the largest and most successful scheme in England. It continues to mentor young directors who leave the programme fully trained in all aspects of theatre with the skill set and contacts to begin their own careers or their own companies. In 2002 she was co-recipient, with Dan Crawford, of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Award for ‘contribution to the arts and pursuit of excellence’ in the field of direction for the Kings Head Theatre, presented by Her Majesty, Richard Eyre and Lord Attenborough in London. Kings Head Theatre Patrons included Joanna Lumley, Sirs Alan Parker CBE and Tom Stoppard OM CBE, Maureen Lipman, Bertice Redding, Don Black OBE and Victoria Wood.
She founded STAGE TO SCREEN, a development lab to encourage longer and deeper development for film, using theatre methodology, supported by Patron Sir Alan Parker, then head of the BFI and also Lord Attenborough, more affectionately known by London film and theatre world as Dicky Attenborough, the great actor and director. For the Stage to Screen project, she directed and produced her screenplay adaptation of DEAR BRUTUS called THE SHADOWMASTER with a film score and 300 sound and lighting cues.
Stephanie remained Creative & Managing Director of The Kings Head Theatre & Pub until 2014, home to the internationally noted, award-winning theatre that has enjoyed over 40 transfers to the West End, National Tours and Broadway and has presented significant productions of major playwrights as premieres or classic revivals. The theatre is currently leading a movement of ‘opera for the people’ under the artistic directorship of Australian Adam Spreadbury-Maher, appointed by Stephanie in 2010. She ran her film companies Dragonfly Films and Dragon Lady Film and Theatre in one of the large windowed Victorian rooms above the theatre, overlooking St. Mary’s church where the church clock’s bell rang out the hours.
Stephanie has exhibited her paintings internationally and was artist/ curator of two International exhibitions in London, AMERICAN’S ABROAD at The Slaughterhouse Gallery, which examined artists born in or identified with America who had greatly influenced European art including Man Ray, Niki de Saint Phalle, Cy Twombly, Alexander Calder and others, (catalogue by art historian Keith Wheldon) & THE LONDON EXPERIENCE at Smith’s Gallery, drawing together International artists from the Turner prize-winning to the newly emerging who were living and working in London. She continued to paint large abstracts for corporate lobbies until her work changed direction and became a record of visions and dreams as it had been in her youth. Stephanie painted all the artwork for actors playing artists in the film SILENCE BECOMES YOU, an experience of painting as another—in this case, sociopathic fictional characters, Grace and Violet played by Alicia Silverstone and Sienna Guillory.
In New Zealand, where she is now permanently based, she co-founded Sea Star Studio in 2012 with her beloved daughter Katherine Wyeth, a multi-arts venue presenting music, theatre, concerts, film lab, fashion photography and fine art. She curated CIRCUS OF THE SOUL, 12 NZ artists creating new work examining where reality collides with dreams, combining noted artists with newly emerging. In 2013 Stephanie’s paintings were presented at the United Nations with 41 other artists in an exhibition demonstrating intentional art curated by Shiloh Sophia. In 2014 the NZ artist Cat Auburn curated a retrospective of her work in film and painting under the title SISTER SELVES. The story of her painting My Muse was featured in the CoSM International Journal of Visionary Community.
Stephanie wrote THE SHORES OF GRACE in 1996, later reprinted as GOD’S THEORY OF CREATIVITY in 2002, which was distributed to all the UK prisons through the Prism Project who chose it as their book of the year and to all U.S. women’s prisons through the Edgar Cayce Foundation and also to all NZ prisons. An examination of visions, a spiritual memoir and an odyssey, it is also a philosophical treatise on the true nature of inspirational creativity and its importance for humanity’s evolution. As a teacher of the healing power of creativity, she created a system called Source Alignment which she presented in American schools. Stephanie was invited to trial the programme in London for a twelve-week pilot at The Stress Project, a project that aligned medical doctors, psychotherapists and alternative therapists working with suicidal individuals. The system is now called Creative Alchemy and she has facilitated it at retreats, business boot camp, inspirational seminars, schools and one to one sessions to all age groups and walks of life in Australia, NZ, England and the US.
Believing there is a shamanic element to art–making the invisible idea visible, she has studied various shamanic traditions with Black Elk, grandson of the author of Black Elk Speaks, Arwyn Dreamwalker, Rain Queen Mother and the Shipibo shamans of the Amazon in Peru.
Stephanie partnered with her daughter Katherine Wyeth to found a film production company, Sea Star Creations to make a short film of Christina Rossetti’s 19th-century Gothic masterpiece, GOBLIN MARKET, Katherine’s directorial debut that Stephanie co-wrote and produced. Makaro Press has printed a special edition of the poem with stills from the film to celebrate the launch. Stephanie also co-wrote and produced the min Viking epic TEARS OF VALHALLA.
Stephanie is currently developing film and writing screenplays including CLARA AND THE MANATEE about a woman who wants to be a mermaid whose sister will do anything to stop her, a psychological horror called ARE YOU THERE? that won the Screen Australia/ NZFC Pitch Award, a dark fantasy called CARNIVAL OF DREAMS and a comedy for Millennials, THE PERFECT ONE NIGHT STAND? Her screenplay for THE SHADOW MASTER is in an accelerated state of development and has the support of WETA Digital Special FX and other members of the NZ film community.
Her creative journey continues to inform all aspects of her life.
Her interest is currently in writing screenplays and developing film projects that combine the suspense of Hitchcock, the beauty of classical dark fairy tales, psychological horror and comedy.
Stephanie is writing a multidimensional action adventure called EMMIE AND THE 7TH KINGDOM and an academic self-help book on the system she teaches, CREATIVE ALCHEMY.
Stephanie Sinclaire Lightsmith
Wellington, New Zealand