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Stage lighting is the craft of lighting as it applies to the production of theatre, dance, opera and other performance arts. Several different types of stage lighting instruments are used in this discipline. In addition to basic lighting, modern stage lighting can also include special effects, such as lasers and fog machines. People who work on stage lighting are commonly referred to as lighting technicians.
The equipment used for stage lighting (e.g., cabling, dimmers, lighting instruments, controllers) are also used in other lighting applications, including corporate events, concerts, trade shows, broadcast television, film production, photographic studios, and other types of live events. The personnel needed to install, operate, and control the equipment also cross over into these different areas of "stage lighting" applications.
The earliest known form of stage lighting was during the early Grecian (and later the Roman) theatres. They would build their theatres facing east to west so that in the afternoon they could perform plays and have the natural sunlight hit the actors, but not those seated in the orchestra. Natural light continued to be utilized when playhouses were built with a large circular opening at the top of the theatre. Early Modern English theatres were roofless, allowing natural light to be utilized for lighting the stage. As theatres moved indoors, artificial lighting became a necessity and it was developed as theatres and technology became more advanced. At an unknown date, candlelight was introduced which brought more developments to theatrical lighting across Europe.
While Oliver Cromwell was ruling Britain, all stage production was suspended in 1642 and no advancements were made to English theatres. During this theatrical famine, great developments were being made in theatres on the European mainland. Charles II, who would later become King Charles II witnessed Italian theatrical methods and brought them back to England when he came to power. New playhouses were built in England and their large sizes called for more elaborate lighting. After the refurbishing of the theatres, it was found that the "main source of light in Restoration theatres to be chandeliers" which were "concentrated toward the front of the house, and especially over the forestage". English theatres during this time used dipped candles to light chandeliers and sconces. Dipped candles were made by dipping a wick into hot wax repeatedly to create a cylindrical candle. Candles needed frequent trimming and relighting regardless of what was happening on-stage because "they dripped hot grease on both the audience and actors". Chandeliers also blocked the view of some patrons.
|A gobo of this shape in a fixture with a red gel would produce a pattern like the one shown to the right.|
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