Of all the aspects involved in stage productions, the lighting is decidedly the most often overlooked and simply taken for granted. Yet, the lighting used is one of the most important elements of the ambiance of any performance. The best use of lighting results in its complete lack of noticeability. Good lighting should never detract from the images that are to be illuminated. Good lighting is the most prominent influence in creating moods and environments that coincide with the intended goal of any production.

Lighting Objectives

Stage lighting is the effective use of light to create a sense of visibility, first, then naturalism, atmosphere and mood, (or ATMOSPHERE). Most comprehensive lighting texts tend to discuss the artistic objectives and functions of lighting, in these terms. These are 'overlapping' qualities and no one of them exists independently of the others.


VISIBILITY is actually the most basic and fundamental purpose of any stage lighting. It’s always difficult to clearly process what we don't see. Visibility relies far more on other factors than simply the intensity of light. Contrast, size, color and movement are all contributing factors that influence visibility. And then, distance, age and the condition of the eye also play important roles in visibility.

Disctint Level Of Naturalism

Naturalism creates a particular sense of time and place. Stage settings may be highly realistic or totally abstract, absurd, and highly stylized. If the time of day is important or the place is realistic, then that particular element is often provided by sunlight, moonlight, firelight, lamplight, or other naturalistic stage sources.


COMPOSITION is the overall pictorial aspect of the stage, as influenced by the lighting. Composition also deals with the FORM of any objects that are illuminated. A stage scene may be broadly flooded with soft, even lighting, revealing every object equally, or it may be illuminated by highly localized lighting on the performer(s) only - or anything in between. So, composition in lighting must reveal performers, objects and other stage elements in proportion to their importance, and thus building a visual picture.


Mood produces the basic psychological reactions of the audience. If the lighting elements have been properly applied, the result is a specific mood. Lighting can cause an audience to feel a wide range of different emotions. Feelings of 'happy, sad, content, horrified, excited, all depend on a wide number of lighting concepts. The stage lighting designer quickly learns that: things are not what they are, but they are what they seem to be. And so, lighting provides the seeming quality of any production.

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