Typical Lighting Fixtures for a Theatre

Lighting fixtures used in a typical theater are also known as lighting instruments and the instruments are divided into two categories, which include Spot fixtures and the Wash fixtures. The Spot lighting fixtures help you to produce bright and hard-edged beams while the Wash lighting fixtures are being used to create soft beams with little control. Both of these categories are differentiated mainly by their reflector shape.

What you need to do:

  1. Ellipsoidal reflector
  2. Fresnels reflector
  3. Parabolic Aluminum Reflectors (PARs)
  4. Strip Lights
  5. Intelligent Lighting

Lighting Fixtures


  1. Most of Ellipsoidal reflector spots used in a typical lighting for a theater are normally known through their specific brands that you choose to use. It uses its ellipse-shaped reflector located behind the instrument’s lamp, which enables it to focus the light beam to an accurate point before refracting it through one or more glass lenses.
  2. As for Fresnel’s reflector, it comes with sphere-shaped reflectors for producing a soft, round beam that can be produced as larger or smaller but without any controlling over them. Fresnels were invented by its inventor based on the lighthouses concept, but using a smaller version of lighting fixture for the usage in stage plays.
  3. Another reflector is known as the parabolic aluminum reflectors or PARs, which can create a soft, oval beam that managed to produce bright lightings that works very well with dark color filters. It also does not offer control except over the direction of the oval.
  4. In order to produce a smooth, soft-edged wash of color that spreads evenly over your backdrop, you need to use strip lights which is designed with several individual cells. Some of the lighting designers will be using spherical or parabolic reflectors while for other designers they would prefer to use wide reflectors that come with angle or curve to extend the beam.
  5. Lighting fixtures designed with full automation would be considered as a form of intelligent lighting and any of the fixtures mentioned above might be able to use as automated but the most commonly used is the ellipsoidal lighting instruments. Automation features in lighting fixtures enables you to control the changing of colors, movement of your beam and also creating variety of shapes during the stage play.

In order to understand basic lighting design for a stage play, you need to analyze its script, have the knowledge on how theatrical lighting instruments or lighting fixtures operate and also know the best way to use each type of your lighting instruments. The main objective and goals of a lighting designer’s is to allow the stage play audience the ability to view all of the action performed on the stage.

Image Credit:

Flickr CC

Additional Reading:

How to Book of Repairing, Rewiring, and Restoring Lamps and Lighting Fixtures

Lighting Design Basics