Stage lighting

A range of Stage Lighting in use

Stage Lighting refers to the lights used to illuminate a stage or set.


Specific lighting is used for a wide range of purposes, such as:

  • Illumination of the stage, so the audience and cameras can see the relevant action
  • Drawing focus into part of the stage, or individual characters, props or scenery
  • Setting mood, ranging from dark/evil to light/happy etc
  • Setting a scene, such as the time of day or location
  • A plot event, such as an explosion, revelation or just a scene change
  • Creating a 3D perspective of the set
  • Backstage illumination (Working Light)

Light InstrumentsEdit

Muse Oxegen

Muse performing under a variety of lights and effects

Light Instruments (also fixtures, lanterns or luminaires) come in many forms:

  • Scoop - a very simple incandescent bulb in a parabolic reflector, used for very bright flood lighting
  • Fresnel - static, with wide soft beam for washing the stage in light or colour
  • Ellipsoidal reflector spotlight or Profile - strong, well-defined light, with multiple adjustable lenses; for spotlights or use with gobos
  • Parabolic Aluminized Reflector or PAR cans - large amount of flat lighting, similar to a headlight
  • Strip Light or Cyc Light - long groups of small lights, often used to colour cycloramas; can be in RGB (Red, Green & Blue) to allow any colour to be selected
  • Followspot - a movable spotlight used to follow performers around a stage, usually manually operated
  • Stroboscopic Lamp or Strobe Light - high-intensity regular flashing, useful for a slow-motion effect or simulating lightning
  • Scanners - lights using mirrors and colour wheels to create psychadelic effects, commonly used at discos/nightclubs, often using Sound to Light to flash in-time with music
  • Intelligent lights or Moving Heads - automated lights which can be computer-controlled, altering variables such as movement, colour, focus, beam size, gobo shape, gobo rotation and shutter speed
  • Lasers - fast-moving dot of light, can draw shapes on surfaces; smoke makes the dot appear as a beam line, and can draw patterns in the smoke
  • House Lights are low-brightness audience lights, used during the entrance/exit/interval, often left on very dimly during a performance; but bright Flurorescent Lights are sometimes the only available option (eg in a School)
  • Working Light is light used Backstage and at Front of House so that technicians, performers and assistants can see. Usually they are built-in Flurorescent Lights, but other fixtures can be used with drawbacks


There are a number of additions to light fixtures which affect the lighting. These can be built-into the more expensive fixtures.

  • Lens - adjustable for creating sharp/soft focuses, wide/narrow beams etc
  • Iris - for widening and narrowing the beam from a lantern
  • Gobos - for turning light from an instrument into a pattern, shape or image; sometimes can rotate
  • Filter or Gel - for filterin light into a specific colour; can be automated using a Colour Scroller
  • Barn Doors - for shaping a beam from a Fresnel lantern, and preventing Light Spill
  • Scoop or Top Hat - a circular mask for removing spilled light from a PAR, similar to barn doors

Light fixtures are usually hung from a Batten (also pipe or truss), using a C-Clamp (or Hook Clamp) and Safety Chain. Fixtures can also be rested on the ground, affixed to a wall, hung from arms off a vertical batten, or hung from standalone tripods.