We’ve all seen a theatre production. And how did we see it?
Lighting , that’s how!
Lighting changes the way a scene is presented to the audience, affecting the setting, the time, maybe even your mood.
A show can make or break on the quality of its lighting, as it is one of the most visually spectacular elements that Theatre's medium can mould.
NUTS' productions often utilise the lighting of Studio One for slot shows, and the lighting of NIDA's Playhouse or UNSW's Science Theatre for our major production. These are the venues and equipment you as a lighting designer or operator can have your hands on.
From designing lighting storms in a summer's haze, to capturing the insecurity of a character, lighting is the one element of production which can literally remove or highlight anything on stage, metaphorically or purely visually.
Lighting Design for Proposals
A lighting designer is no different to any other designer in a production team; they need to tackle practically pulling off some sort of concept devised by the director.
This means that the lighting designer has complete professional reign over deciding what and how they want to create the lighting for a show.
In the proposal stage, lighting designers would often work on a theoretical framework to explore and justify their creative decisions, aided by design pictures.
Accurately labelling what type of lights you will use, what colour and where they will go, is crucial to displaying your design to the technical manager and director.
Equipment for Lighting
In an amateur production, given the equipment provided in booking a venue; lighting is one of the most creatively open channels of tech.
By adjusting focuses, gels, gobos etc, lighting designers have the possibility to create nearly any effect a production may need.
Productions can utilise different forms of lighting, whether that be through projection, pre-recorded videos/live video on TVs, to more extreme elements such as lasers and strobe lights.
The use of these more harsh lighting effects depends on the suitability to the show as well as equipment availability and risk assessment.
Rigging, Plotting and Tech Runs
All NUTS shows require a full Sunday bump in, two days out from show night.
As a lighting designer, it is your job to work with the Technical Manager and bump in minions to rig up the lights and ensure that they are all ready to be used without hassle during runs.
Rigging is assisted often by other production team members and cast.
Plotting is the most laborious task of a lighting designer's job, but it has to be done. Plotting is going through all lighting cues, noting them down in a book and ensuring that their cues are logged in the lighting booth. It requires actors to run through only their cues which change lighting.
A tech run is usually completed on a Sunday evening.
Not all Lighting Designers are the actual lighting operators for a show.
Often this position is shared between the designer and other tech members, or it is given to a relatively inexperienced but interested person who wants to get involved in NUTS.
Lighting Operators work next to the sound booth, often to ensure that both are able to time their cues succinctly and to provide assistance if necessary.
Lighting operation is often a sure fire way to shoot a new Nutter into other lighting design opportunities, as well as to meet and learn the established technical community within NUTS.