Feb 08


This week we had another hang session for the lights for the show Merrily We Roll Along. But the focus of this post will be on some of what I have been researching on my own. I have been doing my research from the book A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting by Steven Louis Shelley.

One of the main types of lights is called frontlight. Frontlight is the lights that is front of the focus point. Their main uses is to direct where to look and to help the audience see the actors on stage.Since most scenes of the important don’t happen too far upstage, lighting the whole stage with great lighting isn’t always necessary. But even though frontlight isn’t as important as some of the other types of light, it is still a big part of lighting. It is good to use it to provide basic illumination to the stage.

One type of frontlight is straight frontlight. Straight frontlight is light that is pointed straight to the stage. It is usually hung so the light beam will it directly downstage of focus points. When it comes to making sure the lights have a good wash that can reach the whole area, it is better to use a bigger beam than you think you need over a smaller one. With shutters, a bigger beam can easily be made smaller if needed, but it is much harder to make a smaller beam bigger. If the light beams are correct in size, there will be an even wash and the light beams will blend together as one light.

Another type is diagonal frontlight. Diagonal frontlight is when the lights are hung so they are about a 45 degree angle from the both sides of the actor on the stage.  It is mostly used to help fill in shadows or help with visibility. Using side booms can be a great way to do diagonal frontlight. When doing this lighting type, you must be careful with what type of instruments you use since it can be hard to control and shape diagonal frontlight, Ellipsoidals are the best kind of light for this since they are easy to rotate.

Next week, we will finish up the lights for the show, and I will do some more research so check back next Friday for the next post!


  1. Tina Bessias

    Katie, are you actually hanging the types of lights you describe here? And will you get to watch the show from the audience, or will you be in the booth? I’m learning a lot about what always seemed like theater magic to me.
    Looking forward to the teaser next week and the show after that!

    1. 19cunneen

      I am on the ground for it telling where to hang them and where to point the lens. I also went up to actually focus the lights. We are hanging a few different types of lights including ellipsodials, fresnel and pars. I will be backstage for the show helping with the scene changes.

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