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By Frankie Goodway
Your actors are assembled. Their lines are learnt, their costumes perfected, your direction is going to blow the audience away. You sit in the front row of the audience and wait for the house lights to come down. And wait. And wait. Oh dear.
Lighting may well be mystifying – so many switches! – but it is stating the bleeding obvious to say it’s important. Few productions can pull off being entirely staged in the dark, or with the houselights up, and it’s amazing how easily a different gel (that’s the bit that changes a light colour – yes, we’re getting technical) alters a setting.
To get your hands on a lighting director, it’s best to go to their society, called ‘Tabs Are For Flying’ (for mystifying reasons) at www.tabsareforflying.co.uk and make a request. In fact TAFF can usually cover all your techie needs (more on this next week).
Because we at Far Flung know all you budding thespies want to be experts at everything, we consulted a technical genius, Graham Cook, for a rundown of those lighting terms you NEED to know:
Fade – Lights take a while to change (time can be controlled)
Snap – Lights change instantly
Wash – whole stage lit, usually in one colour
Spot – One point of the stage lit sharply
Focus – whether you can see the edge of a beam of light – soft focus blends in, hard focus is a sharp edge
Cold wash – usually light blue tint of steel, used for winter/harsh mood/something sinister etc.
Warm wash – usually straw colour, used for happier moods/summer etc.
But remember, not every lighting director has a world of expertise at their fingertips. My other (non Taff) source had a simple method of categorising lights: “I just called them spotlights or not spotlights.”