Last Update: November 17, 2007
Objective for this lesson:
Students will examine a Timeline of Events in the History of Stage Lighting-------------------------------------------
Lighting cues seem to have been written into Greek plays - the festivals played from sunup to sunset, and many of the lines refer to times of day.
The sun was the first major source of lighting instrument, and clouds were the first dimmer (!).
The Romans moved pageants into the Great Halls.
Sabastiano Serlio -- colored light liquids in bottles (red wine, saffron (yellow), ammonium chloride in a copper vessel (blue).
Brightly-polished barber basin and a round bottle as a lens
3 qualities of light: distribution, intensity, color
Leone de Somi - full illumination for happy scenes, but tragedy much darker (candles, crude oil lamps, torches, and cressets (hanging lamps).
Stagehands walked around and snipped wicks, the audience was lit
Candles were of tallow and fat
Inigo Jones (or click here) (English - stage designer) returns from Italy with knowledge of the Proscenium Arch and footlights, and comes up with ideas for masques
Teatro Olimpico is the first permanent theatre in Italy
Teatro Farnese (see illustration in text) in Parma - the first theatre with a permanent proscenium arch and curtains
Footlights (floats) and sidelights
Nicola Sabbatini - writes book on theatre - suggests system of dimmers lowering metal cylinders over the candles
Giacomo da Vignola - ideal lighting angle is along the diagonal of a cube
(1930's - Stanley McCandless writes it in book)
17th century (1600's)
Paris - many chandeliers
Gas becomes used
Candles ruled the day till the invention in 1783 in France of the kerosene lamp with adjustable wick
Followed closely with a glass chimney - could make individual float lights
Used for 100 years
Illuminating gas produced in quantity - William Murdock - each building could produce its own
However, gas required constant attention and wasn't easy to control
Invented by Henry Drummond - heating a piece of lime with a flame of oxygen and hydrogen (for a followspot or to indicate sunlight). A green-ish tint.
Was used as the first spotlight in Paris Opera houses
Drury Lane Theatre is the first to use gas in England)
Electric Arc -- discovered by Sir Humphry Davy (or here)-- took 90 years to be fully accepted.
First fully gaslighted theatre -- Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia
Greater control of and more brightness (colorsilk cloth or woven cotton).
Increased heat and many fires caused, and had gas smell and green-ish tint.
Henry Irving (and click here) (England) initiated lighting rehearsals, transparent lacquers of colored class to limelight with electricity to incandescents, footlights of different colors and broken into sections, and wanted to dim the house lights
First incandescent lamp patent - Edison - not practical
The first electric carbon arcs used as spotlights at the Paris opera - inefficient -- not a serious threat to limelight
The Jablachkoff candle - the first useful lightbulb - "electric candle" - used at Paris Hippodrome - a carbon arc (invented 40-50 years earlier, but limelight was too ingrained, even well into the 1920's.
The first practical electric spotlight
Savoy Theatre in England - the first completely electric theatre
A big push - electric theatre at the exposition in Munich, Germany -- with a saltwater dimmer to control the new power source - went like wildfire...
As technology develops and advances at a more rapid rate, so did development of more effective lighting equipment
Edison - first practical lightbulb
Incandescent to tungsten -halogen lamps
Lacquer to gels.
Electric lighting went from the marquee to the outer lobby to the inner lobby to the house to the stage
You can take short study quizzes based on textbook materials by going to the Student Online Learning Center page for our textbook...
End of Unit II
You should now make arrangements to take Exam Two at a campus location, according to the directions in the syllabus; please be sure to bring an Exam Pass with you...
Go here for a study guide for exam two (MS Word) or here for text format...
Go To Unit III: Theatre in History
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Last update: November 17, 2007