Technical Theatre/Lighting/Introduction

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Lighting for the stage involves manipulating the four major Controllable Qualities of light; Intensity, Color, Direction and Movement; to influence the four functions of stage lighting which are Mood, Selective Focus, Modeling and Visibility.

Four Controllable Qualities of Light

  • Intensity:The intensity of a light source can vary from near total darkness to painfully bright.
  • Color:Nearly any color you can think of can be created through the use of lighting gels or electronic means. Color can be a major player in creating a mood. However, the lighting designer must be careful in choosing colors so that they coordinate with the colors chosen for costumes and set pieces as well.
  • Direction:This is the area from which the light approaches the stage. This is a major contributor to the function of modeling. Light can come from below, directly above or anywhere in between. They can also originate from in front of the actors, behind them or off to a side. Each combination of directions has its unique effect on the highlights and shadows produced.
  • Movement:refers to the changing in the lights whether it be a change in intensity, color or direction of origin.

Functions of Stage Lighting

  • Visibility is the primary function of stage lighting: making sure the audience can see the part(s) of the stage that the director and/or the lighting designer want them to see.
  • The modeling function includes creating a realistic (or intentionally non-realistic) view of the world of the play. This is done by strategically placing lights above, below, to the side, in front and behind the actors. Through the use of the placement of the lights, you can create different types of highlights and shadows on the actors, props and set pieces.
  • Selective Focus is the function of "forcing" the audience to look where it is desired for them to look through the use of high/low intensity and changes in intensity.
  • The function of Mood is both one of the most difficult and at the same time the easiest function to maintain. It is the easiest because it can be done very simply through the use of colors. However, it can also be overdone to the point of becoming cliche instead of allowing the actors and other aspects to contribute to the overall mood of the play.