Effective and Inexpensive Small Stage Lighting

You only need to use fewer general lights for illuminating a stage performance on a small stage. Because little usage of lights help you focus the budget for your lighting on relatively inexpensive effects thus enabling you to broaden the versatility of your lighting fixtures. You can even use existing fixtures that you have been using in previous play and special effects units to save more on your budget.

What you need:

  1. Fresnel lighting instruments
  2. Ellipsoidal Fixtures
  3. PAR 56 or 38 types of lighting instruments
  4. Color scrolling units
  5. Portable dimmer packs

Small Stage Lighting


  1. For your general front lighting, it is recommended that you use fresnel lighting instruments instead of ellipsoidals because the fresnel lighting comes with fewer features and lesser control than ellipsoidals. This means that it costs much less and produces soft as well as even light.
  2. If you still need to use ellipsoidal lighting instruments, try to use not more than four to eight ellipsoidal lighting instruments in order for you to project patterns and produce controlled light. For the usage of very small stages, four ellipsoidals should be sufficient enough and as for covering moderate small stages, you need at least six to eight ellipsoidal lighting instruments.
  3. If your design must include side and top light, use PAR 56 or 38 types of lighting instruments for example, the Parabolic Aluminized Reflector (PAR) lights are the least expensive type of theater light, which produces bright light that works well with color filters.
  4. Once you decide to use PAR lights, it needs to be supported by color scrolling units, which you can purchase or rent. Instead of using dichroic glass color changers, you can use Scrollers, which are much less expensive and it allows you to choose the colors that you want to place in your scroll. A scroller is designed with approximately 10 colors per light for you to choose from.
  5. In order to have lighting control in areas that you would prefer to have lights or not, you can use portable dimmer packs and you can simply rent it from your local rental equipment house to look for the control consoles, which are normally used by rock bands. This console is simple and durable controls, which are made especially for small area.
  6. Apart from that, you can also use strobe lights, blacklights and other special effects that enable you to add some tension and drama to a particular scene. For instance, during a final death scene of a villain as well as during confrontation between a hero and his villain or even use it with a smoke machine or dry ice for creating an effective haunted house. You can purchase the strobe lights because it is quite affordable or if you want to save on cost, you can also borrow from your friends.
  7. Another lighting method to use is the backlight, which is suitable for creating Angels in white clothing or other supernatural forces appearing with glowing look.
  8. Finally, strings of Christmas lights can also be used for creating an accent of a fairy tale land or for producing a more positive mood within a party or wedding scene. When you crate fantasy element, you should be using a few strings of small white lights emphasizing the fantasy scenario or even use Chinese lanterns in order to generate a festive environment without using a complex lighting effects.

Image Credit:

Flickr CC

Additional Reading:

Create Your Own Stage Effects