Today we want to put a spotlight on stage lighting techniques. To light a stage for a concert, theatre performance, dance recital, or speech, you could stick to basic lighting that simply illuminates important elements of the stage. However, many productions require the use of more creative stage lighting techniques. Why not use lighting to convey the eerie, suspenseful mood of your play? Have you considered how the right lighting could refocus your audience’s attention during crucial parts of your concert? Plus, many stage lighting techniques can be used off-stage to light video shoots or provide décor for weddings and parties. Explore the possibilities to enhance your production.
Stage Lighting Techniques
Composition lighting is often said to “paint a picture.” It enhances the set design, and in some cases, it may replace all scenery on stage. Offering structure and form to the set, it can help set the stage and inform the audience’s thoughts about the scene, perhaps even changing their overall perception of the performance.
Selective visibility refers to the ability of the lighting technician to show the audience exactly what they want them to see. By illuminating different parts of the stage or set, a light technician can quickly refocus the audience’s attention. For example, a spotlight might be cast on a single member in a crowd of performers, so that the audience knows who is speaking. Since the audience is only viewing one element at a time, they won’t miss anything important. This can also be an effective way to distract the audience from something occurring in the shadows.
Location and Time of Day:
If you want your performance to be located in a particular environment or at a particular time, you can use lighting to establish this. For example, you can use lighting to convey whether the action is occurring inside or outside, at day or night, in a stale and stuffy environment or in a magical, glowing place. Your options are limitless.
Although a playwright might contrast the lighting with the mood of the show for an interesting effect (setting a gruesome murder in a brightly lit garden, for example), most people use lighting to convey and reinforce the mood of the production. Typically, darker performances (in mood) use darker lighting and lots of shadows. Lighthearted performances, like comedies, often use bright and cheery lighting.
Sometimes lighting can trigger the plot or even act as a character. For example, in the play “Wait Until Dark,” a blind women is terrorized in her own home. At one point, she turns off all the lights so that a man cannot see. The audience interprets elements of the scene based on the lighting effects: matches lit by the man, the light from an open refrigerator door, etc. And in “Peter Pan,” the fairy Tinker Bell is not portrayed by an actor but a darting light.
Revelation of Form:
If you want to highlight the form of a particular performer (a dancer, an actor, a musician, a speaker), you can use the technique revelation of form to make them stand out from their background. This makes the performer, their shape, and their movement the focus of the audience’s attention. It also helps performers, scenic elements, and props stand out as three-dimensional objects against the overall background. Finally, revelation of form can help the lighting technician emphasize or intensify the shape of a character (their curves, angles, form) in order to invoke a particular feeling.
To accomplish these stage lighting techniques, you can use a variety of products. For example, dimmers, lasers, and architectural lighting equipment may all come into play. In addition, you will adjust the many qualities of lighting to create the ideal setup, modifying the lighting equipment’s intensity, color, position, direction, and more.
If you need help buying, renting, or setting up stage lighting, contact Southwest Audio-Visual today. We supply a variety of A-V products and services, including theatrical lighting equipment. For example, we offer ETC Source-4 pars and ellipsoidal light fixtures, LED multi-color pars and multi-strip light fixtures with built-in DMX dimming, cyc lights, moving light fixtures, dimmers, follow-spots, truss, lighting consoles, rigging, and special effects. You’re sure to find what you need amongst our extensive inventory. To get started, please contact us online or give us a call at 417-887-4900 (Springfield) or 636-225-4327 (St. Louis). We would be happy to help you with all of your A-V needs.