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Joe Naftal

Joe Naftal is a NYC-based lighting designer and lighting director. Holding a BFA in Lighting Design from UNC School of the Arts, his experience includes classical & contemporary plays, musicals, modern dance, ballet, and opera.  

Member: United Scenic Artists 829

Click here for Joe's Professional Resume

Click here for Joe's Teaching CV

Hobbies & Interests

  • Travel

  • Golden Retrievers

  • Cooking

  • Museums

  • Electric Cars

  • Photography

  • Charcuterie Boards


“There is a singular joy in immersive theater of being able to experience the show in multiple ways and Oliver! definitely guarantees a different experience depending on where you sit. I was sitting towards the outer section of the house, almost by the walls and was able to get a full grasp of the story, which was better as someone that did not have the most familiarity with the story of Oliver Twist before my viewing. While a warning outside the theatre lists the use of theatrical haze and strobe lights, lighting designer Joe Naftal works with these elements to create a space that is both environmental and theatrical. One of the hardest things to develop on stage is a sense of time. On my last trip to New York, I was able to see the final Sondheim piece Here We Are which creates a sense of dread through an elapse of time that feels like days while the show runs at about two hours. In Oliver! Joe Naftal is able to use the immersive space with a rig of lighting both above the audience and a deceptive set of lights outside of the windows, creating a natural feeling of light that transforms into spots and fills at times to make sure the actors are always well-lit. Re-creating sunsets, sunrises and all the nuances of the sun’s position in between, Naftal’s lighting has an almost disorienting and disarming way of warping the sense of time in Frank Oliva’s workhouse set.”

– Jon Manarang, When the Lights Go Out, Oliver!

"Exciting lighting by lighting designer, Joseph Naftal, and steamy projections of the wild banks of the Amazon while the boat chugs upstream (Patrick Angle), did much to situate and enliven the drama."
– Peter Peret, CVNV, Florencia en el Amazonas

"The UNC School of the Arts’ design and lighting department has outdone itself by creating a journey on the Amazon River into the interior of Brazil to the city of Manaus."

– Lynn Felder, Winston-Salem Journal, Florencia en el Amazonas

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