Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the current primitive state of stage lighting

One of the bigger expenses of my 2008 production of JANE EYRE was the lighting. It was expensive, time consuming, and a pain in the ass. The lights did look good - but not one single damn critic mentioned the lights.

And that's because really, who cares? As long as the stage is reasonably well-lit, nobody cares about the lights. And at the off-off Broadway level, nobody should expect a light show.

One of the reasons why lighting is so damn time-consuming is because the state of stage lighting is still extremely primitive. The lights are set up by people climbing up and down on ladders to change the positions of the lights and to secure colored films in front of the lights. This is absurd in an age when even city buses have LED displays. It adds a whole day to the technical aspect of producing theatre - which means another day of theatre rental, which is incredibly expensive in Manhattan.

And L.E.D. is the answer. There's an article in the NYTImes about L.E.D. technology.

The article ends this way:
“The way an incandescent bulb plays on the face on a Broadway makeup mirror,” he said, “you can never duplicate that.”
To which I say fine - incandescents in the dressing room. But the stage could be lit by L.E.D.s that don't need to be moved, and could be controlled entirely by computer - color, placement AND motion. No more of this ladder crap.

And of course it won't happen for most NYC theatres for a long time, since it would be expensive and they're all used to the old system. But it will change. And I am currently looking for a modern theatre with L.E.D.s in Manhattan for my next production of JANE EYRE.