Lighting is a very important aspect of theatrical performance. It has multiple purposes, but it is not enough to simply illuminate the stage, actors and set. Lighting should enhance the production and bring depth to each scene in a way that nothing else can. Good lighting can make a play great, but poor lighting can send an audience out the door wishing that they had spent their time elsewhere. Lighting and scheme work hand-in-hand. All productions have a scheme, and that should be embraced by a light design. Some colors, props and set pieces might need to be illuminated, while others should remain in the background as small details for wondering eyes. Actors have a relationship with their surroundings, which is not easily distinguished within the scheme without the help of good lighting. Different types of productions focus on different schemes and require a different lighting plan.

Here is a brief overview from your local Georgia theater of how a light design is planned for a theatrical production.

The Acting Area

The area in which a scene unfolds is known as the “acting area.” This is determined by the design of the set, as well as the blocking that is designated by a director. The acting area might only be a small portion of the stage, the entire stage itself or even offstage in interactive scenes that include other areas inside the theater. There might also be multiple acting areas in one scene. To begin planning a good lighting design, it is important to pinpoint these areas in each scene. Your lighting area should be a selected portion from the complete acting space. The space can be filled with whatever is deemed necessary, from a single pool or light to key lighting and fill lights.

Blending and Toning the Design

Some lights are used specifically for toning and blending the lighting of a scene. Layers of colored tones are used to tone and blend costumes, settings and props. These lights can also be used in revelations that the actor experiences or to expose other details during the scene. Warm, cool and neutral colors are used to complete this part of a lighting design.

Background Lighting

Background lighting is just as important as the lighting that distinguishes the acting areas. These are small, low key lights that assist the other lights with enhancing the stage. These are necessary to present the audience with a visual picture that has depth. Background light is great for changing between day and night scenes, showing a stream of moonlight or the soft shining of the sun.

Special Effects

These are the cool features that provide the “wow” factors in a production. These are flashes of fabricated lightning during a storm, a sharp beam of light or colorful mechanisms. You can go overboard on special effects, so keep in mind that they should only be used to further enhance a show, not completely take over.

Take a Theater Class

If you would like to learn more about theater and the creation of stage productions, visit our classes page, or contact a representative with Lionheart Theatre Company today, your local Georgia theater.