Illumination

posted Jul 6, 2012, 12:11 AM by Robert Schulz   [ updated Jul 6, 2012, 12:17 AM ]

Excerpt from Psyche lighting design by Chris Oca.
While you can obviously have theater without lighting, most people like to be able to see what is going on.  At the most basic level, theatrical lighting merely provides illumination to allow you to see what is happening on stage.  Beyond that, lighting becomes part of the environment of the play.  It can help communicate time of day, season, emotion, weather, bring focus to one area of the performance space over another, indicate scene or location changes, and so much more.  Getting the lighting right is thus an important part of the production. 

Lighting Designer Chris Oca presented his draft lighting plot (a diagram showing lighting positions and fixture types) today, and he'll be giving us a final plot, along with notes, tomorrow.  In Psyche, the action primarily takes place in two physical locations on the set - the ground floor, and the attic.  In addition, there are significant transitions between certain scenes.  The lighting design needs to take this into account, as well as any special effects, and of course, the limitations of the performing space (appropriate locations to put fixtures, how many light fixtures are available, how much power is available, etc.).

Now that we have a light plot, my job as Master Electrician is to take Chris' design, and make it happen.  This weekend, we'll be installing pipe to hang lights, hanging the lights, cabling it all together, and performing a rough focus (a "first draft" of which light points where).  This constitutes the last major step of turning the barn into a theater space.  In particular, now that I have a light plot to work with, I can make sure we have the lighting fixtures and hardware we need to implement it and design a cabling plan to connect all the lights to the lighting control system.

Finally, once the lights are installed and working, I'll work with Assistant Lighting Designers Timothy Smith and Myvanwy Morgan, who will complete the final lighting focus and make any changes to Chris' plan that may be necessary as we continue to work through rehearsals and the conceptual lighting design meets the reality of the set and actors.

Robert Schulz is Master Electrician for Psyche and Or, as well as Production Documentarian and Kickstarter Rewards Coordinator.
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