One of the most important functions of lighting design is illuminating the action on stage. Lighting is needed so that the audience can see clearly what is happening.
Lighting can be used to help show the audience where the production is set. For example, a play set in a hot country may use warm, orange lighting to demonstrate that the climate is hot. Lighting can also show different times of the day. For example, bright lights can create the effect of a hot summer’s day, while lower light levels may indicate night.
Lighting can help to create mood and atmosphere on stage. For example, to create a cold, damp jail cell, a lighting designer might use a cool, blue light with a low intensity.
Lighting design is particularly effective in focusing the audience’s attention. By lighting different areas of the stage, a lighting designer is able to guide the audience’s eye.
Lighting can also be used to influence the pace of a piece of theatre. Lots of quick lighting cues can provide an exciting, dynamic energy to a performance, while slow fades can create a more calming effect.
Lighting can support the style of a production. Plays in a naturalistic style often use lighting to create the illusion of real life, while non-naturalistic performances often use more theatrical lighting effects.