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In many major stage productions, the crew behind the scenes features a lighting designer who is solely responsible for the design, installation, and cueing of the lights during the performance. In larger productions, there may be even multiple other people helping the lighting designer take care of these tasks. The key to great design for the stage is to plan ahead and collaborate with others working on the set.
Reading the script several times through helps you gain a deeper understanding of the show and where your job comes in to create a more engaging atmosphere. Time of day, season, focal speakers, symbolism, themes, and deeper messages are just some of the items lighting designers look for when analyzing scripts.
The context in which the play is situated makes a major difference in what should and should not be featured. If the performance takes place in a time before electricity, how do you make a stage appear lit with gas lighting, without actually using gas lighting? Lighting designers take advantage of a wide variety of resources including books, the internet, and videos. They watch other plays and concerts for inspiration, while also visiting museums to gain a deeper understanding of the play’s setting.
Lighting designers often engage in two contrasting forms of idea generation for their sets: free-flowing daydreaming and organized brainstorming. Daydreaming lets their minds wander as they’re going about their day-to-day life, while brainstorming lets them test ideas in a constructive setting with those they trust to bring forth other ideas.
Collaboration is critical to a play’s success. It’s important that the vision of the play is shared among those leading it forward. A great lighting designer always checks in with the playwright and director to make sure he or she is on the same page to make sure what approaches should and shouldn’t be taken. Everyone might have different ideas, but it’s important that one cohesive narrative is conveyed in the end.
After formulating all your thoughts and engaging in dialogue with the playwright and director, the final step is to starting creating your plans for the lighting plot. This will be all-encompassing and take quite a while, as lighting designers make sure they are taking advantage of the different types of stage lighting equipment to tell a clear story and create an engaging atmosphere. Now is the time to use your imagination and not be afraid to think outside of the box.
For high-quality theatrical distribution products, SSRC has been a leader in the industry for over 30 years. With products and custom solutions tailored to your specific needs, SSRC has the tools you need to create an amazing atmosphere as a lighting designer. Capture your audience’s attention more deeply with SSRC’s production products.
Contact us today at 864-848-9770 to get started on the design of your next set.