Being able to see an actors mouth and eyes helps the audience concentrate on what the actor is saying and helps to interpret the actors mood, so in most situations we need to ensure that the actors face is lit when they talk to the audience. This illumination can vary from a full stage wash to a small beam of light that only lights the actors face.
Lighting a stage direct from the front flattens the actor and the set as it removes shadows that are an important part of natural lighting. By using the McCandless method of a key light 45 degrees from either side of the actors face, we keep the three dimensional image of a naturally lit face. This lighting technique will also help keep the set looking three dimensional. There is more design needed to ensure the actor does not blend into the background, such as choice of colours, side lighting, back lighting and using different levels of intensity.
Selectivity – Revealing and Hiding
We can influence where the audience is looking on the stage by increasing the intensity of the lighting in a particular area of the set, or by hiding a particular area of the set by reducing the intensity of the lighting in that area. The direction of the light can also determine selective visibility, using backlight only reveals an actors body but does not reveal their face. This can be a useful technique for scene changes.
Atmosphere or Mood
We can influence the audiences perception of Time or Place with the careful selection of lighting angles, colour and intensity.By using a warm light from one direction and a cool light from another direction we can change the time of day for different scenes. By changing the direction the light comes from, we can make an actor look sinister or cheerful and innocent. Changes in lighting can be obvious, such as when an actor enters a room and turns the light on, illuminating the whole stage, to subconscious changes such as having a very slow fade to change the mood of a scene without the audience being aware that it is happening. By changing colours on stage, using a cyclorama and gobos for cloud images, we can create different seasons on the stage.