Stage lighting in the past was a decidedly simple affair: the lights were there only to serve as a way to see what was going on onstage. Visibility was the only factor that mattered. As technology and entertainment evolved, stage lighting became more complex.
These days, stage lighting requires careful engineering and thorough planning. The lights technician choreographs the lights to coincide with the events on the stage. Most productions hire stage lighting solutions and crew to handle the transport, installation and the control of the lights themselves. It requires a certain amount of expertise.
Stage lighting has several functions:
For dramatic effect, lights can provide selective visibility. For example, you can darken the stage and focus a spotlight on just one particular element on the stage. To see the entirety of the stage, you can flood it with lights and control exactly how much the audience can see.
Lights can set the tone of the scene. Depending on the colours, the amount of light you use and the style, you can create an atmosphere of excitement or paint a dull scene full of sorrow and grief.
Lights play an important part in the composition of the stage. Lights may serve as a decorative element and contribute to the overall look of the production. Some lights can even project specific scenes and replace the backdrop of the stage completely.
Lights provide special effects. Strobes, lasers and other effects add another dimension to a production that cannot be replicated otherwise. Effects can include dizzying light shows, but may also include simpler elements such as changing the tone of a scene.
Stage lighting is no longer limited to just visibility. It sets the mood of the production and enhances the performance. In fact, it is an art form in itself. Lighting is about giving the audience an experience that they will not forget.