Lighting is often seen as the simple act of illuminating action on stage. However, stage lighting in a theatre can dramatically alter the mood and atmosphere of a production. The way that lighting is used can affect how the audience perceives the action unfolding, and it can even change the entire tone and feel of a play. Thus, it is important that the stage director works closely with the lighting director to ensure that the lighting complements his vision for the production.

Exploring Colours

There are many different ways that colours can be used to alter the mood or purpose of a scene. White and blue lights are known as cool colours. They can be used to create a stark or ominous looking scene or background, and they are often used to illuminate scenes taking place at night under moonlight. Warm colours, such as yellows and oranges, have the opposite effect. These colours can be used to create an inviting atmosphere or a daylight scene.

However, using warm and cool colours separately creates an unnatural setting on stage for the audience. They are only used for very precise purposes, so more often than not the colours are mixed together to create a more balanced and natural atmosphere. An addition of one or two white lights helps create shadow in what would otherwise be a bright scene. This gives the actors on stage depth. Conversely, it is possible to soften characters with the addition of a yellow light on an otherwise cool stage.

More exotic colours, such as green, pinks and purples, are rarely used on their own. This is because they do not appear under natural lighting conditions and can therefore present unwanted effects. Characters lit under green lights, for example, will make them appear ill. They can be used to create very specific moods but, again, only if the director calls for it.

Light Intensity The intensity of the light is another important factor. If a scene is trying to portray an intimate scene with few characters, a dimly lit stage with a few focused beams of light will be much more effective than a stage washed out with light sources from different angles. Similarly, a monologue or soliloquy can be exaggerated with a single beam of light on the lead actor.

Source of Light Lighting from unusual sources can be used to invoke certain moods. The use of candles, torches and, if the theatre permits it, fires or flames on stage can boost production values dramatically and create real and natural environments.

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