Role of Lighting in Modern Theater

In order to ensure the visibility of stage performers in a modern theater, the role of the lighting is the most important section that needs to be planned seriously. Although the exact role varies according to different type of performance and technological advances allow modern lighting to play a major role in stage play. Lighting technology in a modern theatre has gone from just being a mere prop to conveying the stage ambiance and emotions of the acting to the spectators thus it needs the right expertise in this field especially from lighting designer and lighting technician to support the producer and director of a certain stage play.

What you need to do:

  1. Pulling Focus
  2. Shaping
  3. Scenic Elements
  4. Mood Setting


  1. Modern lighting comes with highly specialized lighting control, which enables lighting designer and technicians to choose specific areas that need to be illuminated while leaving the other unwanted areas dim. By doing so, the audience’s attention will be controlled and they can focus to where the director wants them to see.
  2. Another role of lighting in the modern theater is using shadows that allow us to perceive depth. This method is to aim lights in such a way that creates the suitable kind of shadows in order to enhance three-dimensional shaping. Normally, this shadow method is used in dance where it will allow low side lighting curves around the dancers’ body movements thus casting highlights and also its shadows.
  3. Apart from that, lighting can also create scenic elements for instance trees and windows where you can project shadows of these objects to be displayed onto the stage. Usually the object shadows are cast by using metal or glass patterns that will be placed inside the light, but there are also other methods used by other designers using full-color projections of background scenes as well as moving effects such as resembling firelight or rain.
  4. Lighting is also able to create a specific mood, for example for comedic play, comedian would like to use bright light so that it will create a warm, jovial environment while as for magicians or mystery play, the lighting use is more to cool light or shadows for depicting creepy effect.

Image Credit:

Flickr CC

Additional Reading:

Lighting Design for Modern Houses

Medieval Roles for Modern Times