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The Lighting Department
If you have a technical bent, or just an interest in playing with candles, then this may be the point of interest for you
The lighting department is headed by Geoff Scullard, a genius with a light-stick
There is a distinction between lighting design and operation, so it is possible to operate the lighting during the week of a show (and a few rehearsals prior to that!) or to become involved with the director in deciding exactly what the lighting should look like, turning that into the practical design of what lights are needed where, then setting up and focussing the lanterns and programming the changes into the computer so that the look of the stage is consistently presented
If you are interested in knowing more, then please contact Geoff Scullard, either by phone on 0161 928 1677 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Lighting Department
The following information about the Sound Department is taken from the ‘Garrick Theatre Handbook‘.
Stage lighting is the craft of lighting as it applies to the production of theatre, dance or other performance. Several different types of lighting equipment are available at the Garrick and in addition to basic lighting; the department are also responsible for the provision of special effects, such as haze and smoke machines and pyrotechnics. The department is staffed by volunteers, many of whom have many years of lighting experience on a variety of different productions. Each Garrick production will have an appointed lighting designer/operator whose role it is to liaise with the director and stage director to achieve a practical yet artistic lighting design for the production.
As you can imagine, theatre lighting is quite a technical discipline and we are fortunate to be able to utilise some of the more advanced types of lighting fixtures by hiring them in for the duration of the show. We have a standard or generic rig available all the time, but some of our productions, particularly the pantomime and musicals, involves the use of specialised fixtures such as colour changers (scrollers) or moving lights.
During the final rehearsals for a production, the lighting designer can usually be found at his or her desk in the central isle of the auditorium. For the actual performances the lighting is operated from the control box at the rear of the auditorium. As the control box is quite small, anyone who is not part of the technical team for a production is asked not to go into the control box, unless it has been agreed by the stage director or the head of the lighting or sound departments. Even after a performance, the audience may be leaving, but staff in that area could still be working and should not be interrupted.
Some productions require the use of follow-spots – and these are exactly what the name implies, lights that can be focused on a character on the stage which can be manually moved to follow them as they move around the stage. The Garrick has two follow spots which are also operated from the control box. During their use, the operators of these lights have voice communications with the stage manager and the lighting designer by means of a wired headset communications system. This enables the lighting designer to give cues to the operators on which characters they are to ‘light up’.
If you are interested in trying your hand at theatre lighting, you don?t have to be technically minded as you will get as much training as you need in both the design and the operation of the lighting control desk, so please speak to anyone in the technical department or the stage director.
- Haze or Smoke – There are many forms of haze or smoke effects available.
- Smoke Machines– Conventional smoke is the well-known white cloud effect, which rises and spreads throughout the air.
- Haze machines – These produce a very fine mist, or haze in the air, which is largely invisible to the naked eye until a light beam is shone through it.
- Dry ice machines – These machines produce the effect of thick white smoke that lies on the floor. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide, which forms at -87.5 C. When this is placed in boiling water, the resultant gas reacts with the moisture in the air, which condenses to form a white cloud.
- Heavy smoke – Also known as low smoke, the effect produced by these machines is similar to dry ice. The machine uses a standard smoke machine, connected to a chiller unit. This makes the smoke colder than the surrounding air; hence it falls to the floor in a similar manner to dry ice.
- Pyrotechnics (Pyros) – These are also known as theatre flashes and are utilised in productions such as pantomimes to signal the arrival of the good fairy or the ‘baddie’. There are a variety of types available and some are quite expensive. A standard ‘flash’ will probably cost approximately £3:00 each time, plus the hire costs of the holder and controller. A flash which lasts for several seconds and produces a shower of sparks similar to a Roman candle type firework will be approximately £7:00 each. It should be noted that the flash cartridges have to be treated with the same respect as you would treat fireworks, as they are inherently the same and can harm you in the same way. If pyros are to be used during a production, trained technical department staff and the stage manager will usually be responsible for the installation and actual firing of the flash and any others who will be on stage will be made fully aware of what is going to happen. Because of their hazardous nature, specific procedures for the use of pyros are adhered to at all times a copy is held in a folder on the stage manager’s desk.
- Strobes and strobe lighting effects – The use of a strobe or strobe effect can affect a small number of people who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy. This risk can be minimised by limiting the duration of the effect to no more than 30 seconds at any one time. If a strobe is to be used during a production, notices will be displayed at the entrance to the theatre, warning of the use of strobe effects and a verbal announcement will also be played before the performance starts. People with photosensitive epilepsy are unlikely to be troubled by a flicker rate of fewer than five flashes per second.
- Ultraviolet (UV) Lighting – A black light fluorescent tube or a UV Cannon that uses a large discharge lamp can produce UV light. There is very limited UV light given off by an incandescent (dimmable) theatre lantern.
View or download the handbook
For more information, please?visit our Theatre Handbook page.