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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 340 (327)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 340
Page 340

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 340

Suggestions for Better Theatre Lighting

Proper Lighting Enhances Patrons9 Comfort While Providing an Attractive Atmosphere

In a broad definition, the theatre includes any structure devoted to a performance before an audience. To achieve the ultimate goal, the lighting of the stage and the auditorium are two of the basic problems but, in addition the lighting of the public places and displays must. be considered.


The type of performance for which the theatre is designed-be it motion pics tures, legitimate productions, opera, concerts, and the likeeand the sizeein general, seating capacityedetermine the special functions of lighting and the extent of the layout. Although these vary considerably, it is possible to lay down certain principles which can serve as a guide in the selection, installation, and use of lighting equipment for auditorium lighting.

VisibilityeProvide adequate illumination for circulation, program reading, note-taking (at lectures) or seeing the performance without creating distracting shadows or competing brightnesses in the normal line of vision. Equip the house lights with dimmers so that the general illumination can be reduced at the time of performance.

Comfort-Audiences should be put at ease, relaxed. No glare should be tolerated.

CompositioneThe lighting layout (providing not only illumination but carefully controlled distribution and even color) should be sufficiently flexible to give the most appropriate visual effect for each use to which the auditorium is

TILTED FORWARD AT 10 DEGREES. this lamp with spread roundel provides circulation lighting independent of walls and is valuable for lighting the seating area in motion-picture theatres.



Professor 0/ Lighting at Yale University and Consultant [0 Century Lighting

THE 1.500-WATT SPOTLIGHT, with an 8-inch lens. produces an efficient. soft-edge beam which can be varied from 12 to 50 degrees. depending on the amount oI flood lighting that is needed.

put. Accent should be on the picture screen, stage or platform during the performance, and on the aisles, seats and decorative features of the auditorium before and after.

Atmosphere-The mass feeling of the members of an audience is largely due to what they see in their surroundings. A gloomy place is certainly not exhilarating. Music is probably best received in a softly lighted space. Color, texture and form can play an important part in creating an appropriate atmosphere and a change in intensity, color and distribution in harmony with the program of performance can create a visual effect more in keeping with each occasion than a fixed set-up.

Much of the charm and attractiveness of the theatre lies in the first reaction of the customer to his surroundings. The public spaces are included to promote his comfort and, in the same re spect, the lighting should not only enhance his comfort but provide an attractive atmosphere.


To a large degree, the usual standards of comfort and safety should dictate the lighting of the public spaces. In addition, attraction (salesmanship), even glamour, can be provided by lighting depending upon the owners pocketbookeand taste ealmost Without limit more effectively by lighting than any other means. The most exotic architecture and lavish materials are almost completely lost with poor lighting, whereas brightness, color,

and variety of effect in light can enhance even the humblest theatre.

Space is inadequate here to describe the various means of achieving these results from a decorative point of view. Functionally, the lighting starts with the exterior display in the form of marquee signs and fioodlighting. The latter can be more effective as an attraction from a distance than any sign, provided the building can be seen from a reasonable distance and that it has been designed to incorporate artificial lighting as a definite part of its nighttime appearance.

The walk under the marquee should be brightly illuminated by downlights or indirect coves, or perhaps a myriad of small exposed lamps (metropolitan centers). Legitimate theatres and concert auditoriums should be more dignified, relying less upon the need for attrac tion than upon the function of safety and circulation.

From here on into the auditorium itself, the lighting should be stepped down in intensity to accustom the eye to the lower levels usually encountered in the auditorium itself. This can be accomplished by built-in downlighting or any other means which will provide adequate illumination for circulation. On the way there may be illuminated displays, murals, wall pockets, or cove lighting which will supply the general lighting necessary to keep the space luminous. We should not forget the value of excitement inherent in the crystal chandelier; not that crystal chandeliers in themselves are necessary, but the glitter and glamour of this device that has always been associated with the theatre can be incorporated in other ways in the decorative scheme.

LOW SURFACE BRILLIANCE can be achieved with this type of downlight. which is set flush in the ceiling and has a sharp cut-off at 45 degree. The light is useful in general illumination.
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 340