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Stage lighting - A guide.

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Stage Lighting: A guide The fully updated, Definitive guide to all aspects of stage lighting for GCSE Drama Introduction The theatre is the oldest form of drama known. Dating back to the ancient Greeks, it still manages to enthral millions of people to this day with its distinctive dramatic style. Despite the advent of film and television, the theatre is still a unique place. Instead of watching endlessly rehearsed, digitally enhanced pictures flash past on a screen, the theatre offers a clear, unadulterated view of acting relying on the actor's skill and initiative rather than just a string of computer generated sequences. This is not to say that film is worse than theatre; rather that the two are different to one another, offering different things to an audience. However, The theatre has one very clear disadvantage over film. Where we can sit through films like the Lord of the Rings and marvel at the splendour of the Shire and tremble at the unforgiving, evil Sauron the same effect is much more difficult to achieve on stage. Of course the actors ability to portray the character correctly is important, and goes some way to transporting the audience from their seats into the story, but this is often not quite enough. Somehow you never forget you are sitting in a draughty church hall with large florescent lights glaring at you! The solution to this problem is to stimulate the audiences other senses. As well as seeing the action on the stage, the use of costumes gives the characters life and helps the audience keep track of who's who. The use of sound also helps. A man running through the rain just doesn't seem right without the sound of the rain drumming down! Props and pyrotechnics are also used to create an atmosphere that makes the play come to life, and draw the audience in. However, probably the most widely used technique for creating mood and atmosphere in the theatre (apart from acting!) ...read more.


They are used to provide a basis for further illumination, e.g. giving enough light for the audience to see the stage. How to use stage lighting Having invested in a whole stage lighting system, everyone concerned would like to see it put to best use. But how do you go about doing this? Basically, the starting point for any lighting technician or lighting designer understands the correct way to direct light onto the stage. This is an incredibly complex art, and took me many hours studying of books and the Internet before I got a clear idea about what was going on. The first thing you need to know when deciding where to position lights is that you are lighting for a theatrical performance. Therefore, instead of simply trying to illuminate everything as brightly as possible, the emphasis should be on creating a 'look' that best compliments the action on stage. The primary concern is the actors, and the way they look. It is important not to simply shower them with lights from all directions, as this will simply create a flat, featureless image that the audience will find boring, and the actor will find frustrating, as it limits their potential to express themselves with their faces; something that is a key part of drama. To illustrate the difference lighting can make to the features of an actor, here are some pictures of the same actor lit from different positions: As you can see from these pictures, the position of the lights is crucial. If too much light is simply shone onto the actors, then you end up with a dull, and lifeless production. Changing the light source can transform things dramatically; lighting from below, or directly above create dramatic effects that can really add tension and drama to a play. However, for many situations, the optimum lighting conditions are those in the picture entitled 'balanced light.' ...read more.


The following precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of yourself and everyone around you: - Always ensure that the power is disconnected from the plug or the fuse box before making changes to the plugs or the data cables - Always make sure the dimmer packs are disconnected from the power when connecting lanterns to the lighting rig. Even if the socket you are using is not plugged in to the dimmer pack, the rig may have become electrified because of a fault elsewhere. - Never place lanterns that are on separate power phases within 2 metres of each other. Sometimes, electricity companies provide more than one electricity supply. These are called phases. If an operator were to touch any part of both phases, they would be dead, pretty much instantly. Therefore, lanterns should be placed apart to avoid this. Best of all, use different phases for different parts of the theatre (one phase for the lights on the ceiling, and one for the audience lights etc.) - Never place flammable materials near a light. During use, lanterns can reach very high temperatures, so the risk of fire is greatly increased. Make sure paper, cloth and scenery are kept safely away. In addition to electrical safety issues, lanterns are made out of metal, and can weigh up to 10kg. Therefore, it is important to be careful when handling them. It is quite probable that you could kill someone by dropping a lantern on his or her head so make sure that you are careful. Lanterns must always have a safety chain around them, strapping them to the lighting rig. This is an extra precaution against lights falling down onto people. The cable that runs from the lantern to the socket must also be treated carefully. Before it is connected, it must be inspected for damage, as a loose wire could electrify the whole rig. When putting the lantern, wrap the cable securely around the bar, to prevent it falling in front of the light an melting, as well as acting as an anchor if the lantern falls of the rig. 1 ...read more.

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