Curtain Call – Theatrical Lighting
Light, like in any other situation, also plays a significant role in theaters. Theatrical lighting (also termed as stage lighting) has many general principles in lighting a stage to achieve certain goals. The principles of theatrical lighting are illumination, revelation of form, focus, mood, location and time of day, projection/stage elements, plot, and selective visibility. There’s also a set of interests that compliment these principles. They are intensity, color, and pattern.
Illumination is an ability of theatrical lighting to allow the audience to see what’s occurring onstage. Any lighting design is inefficient if it strains the audience’s sight due to insufficient light unless this is explicitly the intention.
Revelation of form means altering the audience’s perception of the things onstage. This principle of theatrical lighting is purportedly for hiding three-dimensional stage elements. Focus, on the other hand, directs the audience’s attention to a particular area, character, or to distract the audience from another.
The mood can also be set in theatrical lighting. Harsh red light gives a totally different impression (such as chaos or evil) than having soft lavender light onstage. In relation, theatrical lighting can likewise establish time of the day by employing colors of blue to give a nighttime effect, and red and orange for sunrise or sunset. Gobos can also be used to project sky scene, moon, etc.
Theatrical lighting also has the ability to project scenery or in itself act as scenery onstage through the use of projection/stage elements. Presenting a plot can be achieved by putting up a lighting event to give the impression of advances. Lastly, there’s selective visibility-the ability of theatrical light to show only areas onstage that the designer wants seen.
To achieve these goals and interests, theatrical lighting is divided into two categories. The types of lights that illuminate a broad area are called floodlights that are in turn having four types namely: par, strip, scoop, and work or house lights. Theatrical lights used to focus on characters and particular areas are termed as spotlights. There are also four types of spotlights: fresnel lantern, ERS (Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlight), followspot and moving lights. Most theatrical lighting bulbs (or lamps) now use Tungsten-Halogen or Quartz-Halogen.
Although you may see a lot of theatrical lighting instruments onstage, they basically contain these four components: box/housing is a metal or plastic shaped like a box to enclose light and avoid it from spilling to unwanted directions; the light source which is a bulb or lamp; lens or opening is the gap in the box/housing where light is intended to flash out; while the reflector is the component that redirects light towards the lens or opening.