Lighting responsibilities

Lighting a production demands appreciation of its dramatic possibilities, but allows great scope for artistic ability and invention. With even the most basic equipment, much can be done. Quality is expected more than quantity.

Few societies are fortunate enough to have qualified electricians as their lighting specialists. But while qualified personnel are necessary to install and repair equipment, many people are capable of performing simple tasks with training.

Do not attempt anything you have not been trained to do.

Whether your society has its own equipment or hires it, the first aspects to become familiar with, are what the individual lamps are used for or capable of, how the dimmer-pack works and the lighting board controls.

This pamphlet is not intended to teach you how to light a production, (that takes training) but is purely to outline the responsibilities which the lighting operator must be aware of.

Lighting the production will, of course, involve collaboration between the director, lighting designer, stage manager and the set designer.

The duties of the lighting operator:

Read the play.

Attend the production meetings to hear the ideas and interpretation of the director.

Discuss with the set designer and the director their plans for the staging.

During rehearsals pencil prepare your script for each potential lighting cue and changes during the scenes. This allows you time to see ‘into the fabric of the play’ and where a section of ‘fast cues’ may happen.

Install all lighting equipment before the rehearsal specified by the stage manager/lighting designer or director. Technical/Dress rehearsals are your time to get things right. If you have a series of difficult cues, practice outside of the allocated rehearsal time.

  • (Install dressing room and orchestra lights, if required, by first technical rehearsal.)

Before a performance, check all lamps are operating; (flash out) check communications with stage management are in order; know what stock of bulbs you have; know how to fix tripped circuit breakers etc.

After the final performance, supervise the striking and storing of all equipment.

If an inventory is kept, enter all the additions and breakages.

Remember that hanging and fine-tuning the lighting always takes at least TWICE as long as you think.