When you decide on your production, think about how you will light it. You may need to purchase or hire lighting bars or individual spotlights to give your play or musical some atmosphere. So you’ll need plenty of time to organise this. As soon as you know how you want to light your show – whether you just need a general ‘wash’ throughout, need to be able to break up the stage into different sections, want to be able to create atmosphere, or use a spotlight to follow individual characters – you’ll need to purchase or hire the appropriate lighting equipment.
You might also want to use a coloured filter or a gobo to project a shape or pattern and create more interest with your stage lights. Single spots can also be placed on the floor at the back of the stage to create some interesting shadows.
If you are running your youth theatre at a local hall or – even luckier – a theatre, you will probably have access to a lighting rig or at least a couple of spot lights hanging from the ceiling. Lighting should be checked by the owners of the hall or theatre and lights should only be set or changed by someone competent or qualified.
For more information about using stage lighting for different effects, have a look at this article from PG Stage on the AmDram website.
If your youth theatre performs at a hall without lighting, or you’re running an after-school drama club, it would definitely be worth investing in some free-standing bar systems or a couple of single spotlights on stands. Maybe other organisation that use the same hall would want to share the cost – although that also means sharing the responsibility and not everyone will be as careful about looking after the lights as you might. Your school might want to invest in a new ceiling-hung lighting rig for the school hall. This seems like a great expense but it doesn’t need to be and will earn its keep within a very short time!
If your hall has no lighting other than strip lights and you can’t afford to purchase any, you will have to accept that most of your production will be lit by the general wash of the strip lights that hang just above the staging area. However, you can create atmosphere with bicycle lamps (turning all of the ‘house lights’ off), standard lamps, actors carrying torches, or even glow sticks! Be inventive and imaginative with your lighting ideas.
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