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An Intro Into My World as a Theatrical Lighting Designer

Posted by Zanna King in Lighting Inspiration Blog on Oct 26, 2011 10:06:43 PM 750 Views

     Think of your mind as a apeirogonal prism, each face of its infinite sides displays the same rainbow but at a slightly unique angle. The rainbow appears marginally different in each face, this is how the human brain views the world. We each choose which faces to look through, deciding which appearance is most comfortable for our personal tastes. My work as a theatrical lighting designer is contingent on being able to look at the world through many angles and custom tailoring the audience's view of a live stage performance. Collaborating with other artists, it's my responsibility to manipulate light to sculpt the world of a story. The reality that I create encompasses the rhythm, mood and focus of the story while accounting for its realistic needs. Each piece that I'm involved in demands a lot of preliminary research and the constant search for inspiration. I find ideas within the entire world around me; among many other strange places, my sketch pad has even followed me into a few taverns while researching a show set in an Irish pub.


      I began my journey in theatre as a child actress, performing in social issue pieces about domestic violence, racism, and homelessness for local charitable organizations. I traded in my spotlight as soon as I was old enough to safely operate a cordless drill and began constructing scenery instead. My work onstage led to my acceptance into an exclusive art school where my education could flourish and I acquired a symbiotic appreciation for the fine arts. My love for creating the world onstage eventually collided with my fascination of electronics and I switched focus to lighting. Through a series of complicated events, I ended up with my first lighting design for a production called The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, a hilarious spoof involving murder mysteries, hidden identities, secret passages and poor accents (photos below). The humor of the story was discerned by heavy dramatics; sudden lightning flashes, power outages and colorful saturation. Using one of my favorite Tim Curry movies, Clue, as my primary inspiration, I tailored a world of harsh angles that the characters could use to help create their individual mystique. As the curtain fell on opening night, I knew that my hard work had helped to create something beautiful. It was my eye that the audience looked through and they responded to what I had shown them. I also knew that I would never do anything else with my life and the journey had just begun. My natural talents for manipulating light led to dedication and I continually strive to learn more about my craft. A few years later, my favorite part of being involved in theatrical lighting is still opening night, the first time that an audience responds to my work. Lighting has made it possible for me to share a huge part of myself with the world and for that, I am grateful.


      Throughout this project, I hope to share my ideas on pulling from many forms of fine art to find the “keystone”-the discerning piece of the puzzle that my designs are based on. I rely heavily on visual art, moving pictures, music and poetry; using each as flagships for communication and inspiration. I also hope to discuss the contrasts between different forms of performance and the challenges that each one presents. I plan on also covering color, darkness, angle and collaboration which will hopefully begin many open-ended discussions. That being said, thank you to the LightCommunity for giving me this further opportunity to share and learn.