Lighting is one of the many techniques and tools that production teams use to suggest mood and emotions, as well as, to fulfill the very practical need to see the actors and the set.
The lighting designer in a theatre can have a difficult time for some plays, creating a natural look in a space that by all other accounts is very un-natural. For instance, a single table lamp may be enough lighting in someone’s bedroom to read by. On stage, however, a lighting designer will need to supplement with stage lighting (which can be found hanging in the air over an actor’s head!), in order for the patrons to see the actor or other parts of the stage and set properly.
Other times, lighting is used in a very obvious way – for instance, in Metro’s production of “Straight and Narrow”. The designer and director came together to utilize lighting that tells the audience when they are watching something in the past, and when something is in the present.
The script for “Straight and Narrow” allows no time for costume or set changes which would normally be used to indicate the passage of time. The play is very fluid and we don’t want to interrupt the audience’s viewing. So, similar to an 80’s soap opera, we created exaggerated and somewhat dreamy or fantastical lighting. This indicates to the audience that they are watching something that happened in the past.
“Straight and Narrow” also featured paintings on the walls that all had to be lit in addition to the central set and the actors.