All You Need To Know About Theatre Lighting Equipment

Preparing for a large scale or small production play, it is always best to...

All You Need To Know About Theatre Lighting Equipment
Preparing for a large scale or small production play, it is always best to know everything there is to know in your field of study, this way you can branch yourself in other directions and use that knowledge to help you.
Theatre lighting equipment are pretty basic and simple to remember what each is used for, as for the creative part that is for each individual person to take into consideration and put their minds to it.
It may not be easy for all as some just have the creative outlook and others take longer time to get their inspiration.  The main factor to always care about is understanding what you are doing and what the production you are participating in is about. Once you know it makes all the other processes much easier to follow through with.

To start things off we will go through a basic list of some of the most important lighting equipments needed buy any stage production companies, as well as the lighting setups that would be needed and where they should be placed and how this affects the overall atmosphere of the production. 

When it comes to lights there are many types from the old and new, but the most looked at when you see a lighting system is the lights and its beam themselves as it catches the most attention. 

There are moving lights, LED, effects light and within these categories they are either hard or soft edged fixtures. Which in that the fixtures have its own advantages and disadvantages to take notice in, as some are manual and other are DMX controlled.

Lighting Equipment


This kind of lighting fixture is the most basic that anyone could find, but thats what makes it a classic and the most well known in the lighting industry. 

As it has such a simple body structure, it’s not as over complicated as the latest technology that is bought today, with its metal body it’s meant to be held together onto an overhead truss. This light is used to illuminate a person or the whole area around it.

Ellipsoidal Spotlight

Generally used for long distance lightings that are needed, they are usually placed at the front or side for productions.

They are known for their gobo’s (which in simple terms are used for reflecting an image or pattern if wanted) displaying consistent pattern such as leaves falling and so on. With adjustable beams that can be changed from hard to soft edge and many more features.


These lights were designed to be similar to a lighthouse light beam, what contradicts them comparing it to the lighthouse light beam is the fact that they act be used for long distance lighting.
Once the lamp is brought closer to the lens it will not result in the lends cracking, this light is usually placed at the top or back of the stage.

Lighting Positions

Light from the front

A vertical beam is a selective light and lights up a certain area on the stage, this results in a shadow to be cast but not overly wider than the actor themselves.

The outcome on the actor would be that their eyes are not visible as they will be fully black and the nose that is highlighted overshadowing the mount.

The lower the light goes the more light the actor gets on themselves, compared to a vertical beam they will get much more lighting on the eyes and teeth, but creates a shadow as the are lit will extend further upstage and most likely would end up overlapping with the background scenery.

Light projecting right below the actor creates a big shadow that will emerge all around the background which results in nothing in the back to be scene. Having a little light coming from below and above will result in a reflected light that will make a softness against the harsh light from above.

Lighting from the back and side

Lighting from behind the actors body will not illuminate any facial features on the actor, but instead will result in a depth given to the stage and makes the scene more harsh and intense, these would be the best time to use strong colors to signify the moment. 

Light coming for one side will highlight the actors face with the eyes and mount being visible, but the other side of the stage floor with have a big shadow extended along it. 

Putting another light on the other side making it 2 lights on each side, both sides of the face will get light reflecting on it and two shadows will be made in the meantime on both sides of the stage floor

If the angles of both the lights were to be lowered and aligned accordingly the sidelight will be a modelling effect on the actors full body and face.
Knowing a little on both lighting equipment and positions that should be used will help you have a better understanding and imagination on the matter in future scenarios.

Editor's Review
This is a guest post from one of our readers, Atif Hassan. He's an Indian. You too can submit yours!

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Information Guide Africa: All You Need To Know About Theatre Lighting Equipment
All You Need To Know About Theatre Lighting Equipment
Preparing for a large scale or small production play, it is always best to...
Information Guide Africa
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