Stage Lighting

light, lights, music, spotlights, modern, particular, equipment, mood, natural and units

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By means of this picture of light, the attention of the audience is focused on the orchestra, and a suitable atmosphere is created for the music. As the composition progresses the colours may be modified, added to, changed, or intensified in accordance with the tempo, the spirit, the volume of the music. We co-ordinate the colour scale with the changing music until we reach the climax. With the approach of the finale and the marshalling of all the musical forces, the lights expand accordingly. If the subdued nature of the composition requires it, the lights are likewise diminished. The closing chords find both the music and the lights finishing in perfect co-ordination.

The stage picture, which is often a visual interpretation of the music, provides further means of establishing and co-ordinating the mood of the audience. Just as a composition has a definite theme or character, so the corresponding lighting of the music must have a theme. Once having determined the light theme, so to speak, it should be followed throughout the sequence to sustain that particular mood. The light that is visible to the audience is reflected light, and its purpose is to simulate reality. Thus, it is necessary to achieve, or approach as nearly as possible, a natural lighting, or a lighting that is consistent with the char acter of the subject or scene, and an effort should be made to emphasize the natural colours of each particular subject or scene, which provides a guide for the kind of lighting.

Costumes, materials, natural settings, may also supply the key note for the lighting, and may be accentuated or subdued to fit the particular needs of the director.

It is often undesirable to create a specific light theme. The music or subject may not be indicative of any particular atmos phere or mood. In that case, a certain freedom in the applica tion of colours and light may be applied.

In projecting lights, there is also the quality to be considered. Light may be hard or soft, and the resultant effects naturally are dependent on this important factor of quality. By straining the light through a filter, a diffused quality is produced, which is very effective in the establishment of atmosphere. It is also important to retain the neutral character of the background or auditorium.

The lighting of this background must not conflict nor detract from the stage picture or music picture to be created. The maxi mum utilization of the different types of lighting equipment will be of further assistance in the creation of moods and atmosphere. Many different types of equipment constitute the lighting tools used in the modern theatre, but they can be condensed into two general classes : (I) general lighting, (2) localized lighting.

Modern Lighting Equipment.

The general lighting equip ment consists of footlights, border lights and strip lights. Local ized lighting equipment includes bunch or flood lights, incan descent spotlights and carbon arc spotlights. The localized group can further be divided into fixed units and portable units.

Lighting units placed in the foremost part of the stage may be used to illuminate the stage curtains and drapes as a musical setting, or to furnish general illumination in the foreground of the stage. Another set of units at the back of the stage is gener ally used for the lighting of the cyclorama or backdrop.

General illumination, furnished on the stage from overhead, is the function of border lights. The stage is divided into entrances, and over each entrance, spanning the width of the stage and about 7 ft. apart, these border lights are suspended and so arranged that they can be raised and lowered at will. High wattage lamps are placed in individual reflectors and are divided into colour groups, wired similarly to the footlights. Colour screens of glass or gelatine are used in border lights.

Bunch or flood lights are made in many forms, and are used to light a given area to a higher intensity, or to flood painted scenery with a diffused, an unmodified or a coloured light. Some flood lights are made so that they can be suspended. The spot light may be used to focus the attention of the observer to any par ticular performer or group, or to any one part of the scene. There are innumerable points in the theatre where these spotlights can be placed, not only on the stage but out in the auditorium as well. This, however, is a very dangerous form of lighting, and must be applied with great discretion.

Bridges spanning the whole width of the stage are suspended at various places, and are mounted with a number of incandescent and arc spotlights. From them shafts of light may be directed to parts of the stage that require particular illumination. Bridges are also suspended on each side of the stage, extending from the proscenium arch toward the rear wall. They are built on two levels and are equipped with a number of bunch lights, incan descent spotlights and arc spotlights. The proscenium spotlights, which are nearest the proscenium arch, can also be supported on these bridges.

The unique, the grotesque, or stylized mood may be obtained by lighting at angles. Lights may be focused from any direction on the desired object. The effect is generally interesting and unconventional.

It must not be forgotten, however, that the function of light in the theatre is to stimulate the imagination. In visionary light ing—the realistic appearance of dreams, apparitions and similar creative pictures—the imaginative thought is transposed to actual vision. Ceiling and side-lights are manipulated to create the illu sion and the reality—food for the audience's imagination.

There are other mechanical devices to create the illusion—the simulation of various natural phenomena—rain, waterfalls, rip ples, snow, etc. It is also possible to give the illusion of motion and depth to a scene. All are created by the manipulation of lights and colours. Modern equipment has made rapid strides in the development of stage lighting, both from the mechanical and artistic standpoint, and there is every indication that in the near future it will take a much more prominent part in stage and musi cal interpretation than ever before.

The beauty and magnitude of this branch of the interpretative art lies in the fact that there are no limitations—no specific rules for the director to follow. He may use his ingenuity and his imag ination to the full extent. It is a field where the pioneer and experimenter will reap his reward in the beauty of his creation. (See also THEATRE, Modern Exteriors and Interiors, Theory of Modern Production, Modern Tendencies, COLOUR-MUSIC, LIGHT, MOTION PICTURES.)

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