Background Preparations and Preliminary Design Paperwork
relaxed give-and-take. Certainly, the meeting’s prime
focus remains on the director to express her con-
cept and visual objectives for the show. That said,
this is also the opportunity for the lighting designer
to pre sent his own ideas, research, and perceptions
about the piece and the production as well. When
multiple meetings are anticipated, the first one-on-
one is not only an exchange of ideas, but also a way
for the two to establish communication, play “do
you know so-and-so?,” begin to work together, and
hopefully begin another relationship in mutual artis-
The first time that a director and a lighting designer
work together, they often must begin the process of cre-
ating a semantic language that both can understand.
In some cases, the phrase “romantic,” when applied to
lighting, can mean a host of choices. In that situation,
the two attempt to find a common point of reference,
referring to research material, or alternately suggest-
ing a particular scene or moment from a film or TV,
or a printed image, that illustrates the “romantic” look
the director wishes to see on the stage.
Questions for the Director:
specific sources? Visual sources?
the overhead electrics? The backstage?
Scene? Location? Special moment?
that you like? Hate?
special transitions in mind?
Relationships to other performers?
need to be considered?
Information to share with the
scenes. Swatch book pieces taped onto paper.
(Or time with gelled instruments in the lighting
television, printed material, etc.
If the pair has worked together in the past, previous
productions, moments, or evocations can also be used
to provide a basic semantic framework to verbally
exchange illustrations, feelings, or facilitate commu-
nication. Find a common base and work from there.
In many cases the light plot may need to be
designed, if not hung, before any run-throughs
take place. In that situation, it’s necessary to
define the broad use of the space and scenery for
the show, where the blocking will and will not take
place. Will the performers use every portion of
the stage? Will they be in the house? In the orches-
tra boxes? Does anyone get elevated high in the air?
Establishing broad ideas of where action happens
sometimes helps the director focus on the blocking.
It might also accidentally provide the director with
new ideas of where to go in the theatre.
Director’s Meeting Notes
For the purposes of this book, the director for Hokey
is a woman. She wants the show placed in “nowhere,
in a void”; each scene will be defined by the lighting.
There won’t be any scenic projections or scenic pieces
used to define location. To reinforce “the void,” she’s
requested the feeling of a “black surround,” meaning
that once the audience’s vision reaches the onstage edge
of the vertical or horizontal masking, there is no other
visual intrusion. It’s clear that this means she doesn’t
want to see any lighting instruments, either overhead or
from the sides of the stage. The director wants to use as
much of the width of the stage as the proscenium will
allow, but realizes that she needs to give up some depth
in order to have the translucency visually succeed.
The show will be somewhat presentational.
At the top of the show, for example, the performers
will step out of character, and speak directly to the
audience. A phrase used by the director to describe
the overall look of the show is “comic book-like.”
During the discussion it becomes clear that in the
director’s vision, this alludes to color saturation,
both on the performers, bodies and the translucency.
The director also made reference to potential “stark
contrasts”; the example given includes scenes when
the frontlight will be at a relatively low level, allow-
ing light sources from other directions to provide a
more dramatic feel to the visual image. Although the
scenes will be blocked to provide stage focus, there
will be times when followspots will be required to
direct focus to specific performers.
The comic book reference also refers to the
fade time of light changes. Just as comic books are
edited to quickly change from panel to panel, the
light changes from look to look will in most cases be
very apparent. While this doesn’t eliminate the use