By Ashley Light
When was the last time you came away from a musical or play thinking, “that lighting was incredible!”? You probably do not consider lighting when you are watching a performance, but without it, the performance would be flat, colorless, and less emotional. Unfortunately, lighting is one of the most overlooked aspects of theatre, even though it is a vital element of a stage production. Lighting designers and technicians use a variety of techniques to portray the different emotions and settings in the show. Different colors of lights can be used to take the audience from one mood, to the next, in a very short amount of time. For example, in the Broadway production of Aladdin, an orange and yellow background was used in an exciting, upbeat scene, which directly transitioned into a romantic scene with a soft red and magenta background. Textures are also used quite often in lighting. Leafy textures can create a forest scene, and cloud textures can create a sky.
Another subtler lighting technique is the sculpting of the actor’s bodies with the lights. Their bodies and costumes are sculpted from all sides by different colors and textures that compliment them by giving them more of a three-dimensional look. Howell Binkley, professional lighting designer and Tony Award winner for his work on Hamilton and Jersey Boys, is famous for his focus on sculpting and using saturated color with cool highlights to create a more unique look. The next time you attend a musical or play, you may recognize the role that light plays on the stage, and think to yourself, “that lighting was incredible!”
Guest columnist, Ashley Light, is a 14-year-old home-schooled student who enjoys studying music and dance, as well as performing in numerous local musicals and productions. She sings and plays the piano in her church worship team and aspires to be a great writer and columnist for The Kaleidoscope Weekly.