In an ideal world, installing stage lighting equipment would be as simple as chucking up a few lamps attached to a metal pole and being done with it – well, maybe not ideal because we’d be out of a job but you understand what we mean!

In actuality, the process of stage lighting design involves undergoing a series of complex technical design audits and considering how the intricacies of your stage affects how it will be lit. Basically, it’s quite a lot of work and most of it is highly technical!

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have at least some idea of what kind of lighting rig you’re going to require and one of the simplest ways to do this is to indulge in a bit of stage division. Sound confusing? It isn’t. It’s simply breaking down your stage into various areas that need to be lit in different ways at different times. Still confused? Here’s a diagram:

The image above provides a very basic division of the performance spaces on a basic front-on stage. Centre stage is where most of the action will take place and so you’ll need adequate lighting throughout the performance; a flood lamp and a soft spot, for example. Stage left and stage right probably won’t be utilised as much, but a spot light covering each offers flexibility for your performance. If you have a large cast, you might also need to have these areas well-lit for scenes where the whole cast are on stage at once (a rousing musical number at the end of a performance, for example).

So for a basic stage lighting rig, we might have a rig fitted with seven lamps; three for the various requirements of the centre stage and two lamps for stage right and left (one for general lighting and perhaps a spot). It could also be that only one spotlight is used for the right and left of the stage or strobe and LED lighting is added to accompany the standard stage lights. The choice is yours!

Things get a little more complex when a stage isn’t ‘standard’. For example, a particularly long or deep stage can be divided into more sections and thus require different lighting solutions. Here’s a hypothetical stage that’s particularly deep.


The rig we outlined above probably wouldn’t be adequate to light this particular stage. Instead, we have two options; either add more lights pointed towards the back of the stage to a single rig or add a second right placed over the stage to light the back of the stage in the same manner as the front of the stage.

The more cost-effective of the two would be to add more stage lamps to the current rig, especially if you don’t particularly utilise the back of the stage that often. However, if the back of the stage is on a higher tier, or is used quite often, then a second rig would be a better option.

Of course, not all stages are set out in an ‘end-on’ fashion. ‘In-the-round’ staging provides a different set of challenges, although you can still apply the same principles as with a simple stage to determine where your stage lights will need to be positioned to make the most of a performance.

Every stage is different, as is every performance that takes place on it, so the ideas outlined in this post can be expanded upon according to your own stage to give you a better idea of what kind of lighting set-up you’re going to require.

For more information on stage lighting setups, get in touch with PG Stage via the website or call us on 0161 830 0303.

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