How To Light a Play

Several different types of lights will be used to light a play. Different lighting effects and colors will help to convey different moods expressed in the play and even direct an audience to where their attention should be focused. Lighting is a key element in any play or other theatrical production.

Step One

Read the play. It is important, when your job is to light a play, to understand what the play is about. By reading the play you will know what is going on in each scene and get a better understanding of the mood in each scene and the setting for each scene.

Step Two

Work closely with other members of the production team, actors in the play and the director to decide on what types of lighting effects need to be used in certain scenes and lines of the play.

Step Three

Consider the location in which the play will take place. Not the location of the scenes, but the physical location of the play, such as an outdoor amphitheater or an indoor stage. If the area is equipped for stage productions, general lighting and braces on which to hang additional lighting fixtures will already be present.

Step Four

Be sure that general lighting is working. General lighting is the basic way to light a play. As most plays are conducted in a dark theater hall or once the sun has set on an amphitheater, it is necessary to light the stage so the audience can see the production; this is general lighting.

Step Five

Use colored films or bulbs to portray moods and events in the play. Associate colors appropriately, such as red for horror or murder, and blue to simulate early morning or late evening.

Step Six

Use a spotlight on persons and scenes that you want the audience to be focused on at a given time. This works great for large stages where more than one scene backdrop and props are present at a time such as theater in the round.

Step Seven

A spotlight can also be used to highlight one person, which is great for focusing the audience's attention to the inner thoughts or sneaky movements of certain character in the given play.

Step Eight

Flashing or pulsing lighting effects help to simulate thunderstorms or intense scenes and moments in a play. These effects do not help to light a play but help to add emotion to the play.

The lighting effects of a play are as important as the lines delivered by the actors. You must practice play lighting several times prior to opening night. If you do not rehearse lighting along with the rest of the play, you may miss your cue and mess the lighting up on opening night.


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