Give it the green light!

EVERYTHING is a question of lighting.

Youth and beauty are just a matter of lighting, as an elderly film star once observed.

For anyone connected with live theatre, conferencing and event production, the lighting is all.

Creating a cocktail bar in an empty-shell event space, for instance, is more than just ordering an efficient, fully-stocked and courteous bar service. It’s more than allocating the appropriate location within the wider event space, correctly specifying the floor area, bar configuration and decor, and providing friendly and efficient bar personnel. It’s a complete exercise in careful design, coordination and management.

And lighting.

In early Greek and Roman theatres, routinely built on an East-West axis, afternoon performances bathed performers in sunshine. In Shakespeare’s Globe, the open roof allowed daylight (and rainfall) to flood in. During the Restoration, candles in chandeliers and sconces dripped hot wax onto audience and players alike. And, in the 17th century, footlights shone upwards, illuminating the legs, underbellies and chins of performers.

But by the first half of the 19th century, gaslight had entered the picture and the state-of-the-art was limelight, created by burning calcium oxide in a focused oxyhydrogen flame.

Its combination of incandescence and candoluminescence created an intense light, which could then be directed around theatres via reflectors and lenses. 

The intricate art and science of stage lighting had begun its rapid evolution, as it thrust performers boldly “into the limelight”.

Throughout the 20th century, increasingly sophisticated electric lighting eclipsed all other technologies and the art of light has become a complex and integral component of almost every visual environment: creating mood, ambience and spectacle. An entire artistic profession evolved, with lighting becoming as subtle and sophisticated as the designers’ dreams.

With the 21st century, the energy efficiency imperative entered the scene. To all the other complexities, we must add the responsible and sustainable consumption of resources. The high wattage profiles, floodlights and follow-spots of yesteryear are both literally and figuratively out of the “arc”! The days of consuming vast quantities of Kilowatt hours and producing considerably more heat energy than light, are no longer appropriate. 

But, until only a few years ago, it was impossible to create the equivalent luminescence, colour rendition and subtlety of mood from energy efficient LED units. That world has changed. 

Today there are LED profile spots with a tenth of the power consumption of even the most efficient tungsten equivalent. Energy concerns have spawned global theatre lighting policies, which promote and encourage the next technological revolution. 

When choosing your event production specialist, have you asked the question: How green is your lighting?