The History of Stage Lighting
The theatre has been in existence for many centuries. The earliest known theatres were in ancient Greece. George Baker said that the drama is the shortest distance between emotion and emotion. The stage lighting in ancient and modern theatres were dramatically different, but still added a great deal to the emotion expressed in plays.
The earliest theatre dates back to the second century. In those days, they performed at all hours of the day. Most of the plays’ titles resembled the time of day that they were preformed. Greek theatres were usually built with the audience seated on the east, facing west, and the stage facing east. “This seating arrangement was designed so that spectators were not blinded by the morning sun. For tragedies performed in the late afternoon, the sunset provided a special effect, backlighting the actors and throwing long shadows across the stage, creating an impressive atmosphere of grandeur. Thus any lighting in Greek theatre had more to do with the spatial arrangement (or simply “the design”) of the theatres than anything else, and Greek dramatists for the most part wrote their plays taking into account the fact that they were acted in broad daylight
During the Italian Renaissance, the theatre started moving indoors. The first permanent theatre was in Teatro Olimpico and was designed by Andrea Palladio (he was a famous Italian architect). This indoor theatre was built between 1580 and 1584. During the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy, there were four types of artificial lighting. The first were candles, then oil burning lamps, after that gas lights, then finally there were electric.
The first major light source was the candle. This was an okay source, but the light was not steady enough because it flickered too much. There were large chandeliers hung in the auditorium as well as above the stage. On the six chandeliers that were above the stage, there were twelve candles...