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Lighting The Stage

Most books about stage lighting tend to concentrate on the factual aspects of equipment and the design process. But the rather clinical facts of technology need some fleshing out. Theatre is essentially a people industry. Who are these lighting designers? What makes them tick? Where do they slot into the creative team? What are their priorities? How do they learn to light? What are the fears, agonies and ecstasies of this little corner of the theatre industry?

This revised edition of Francis Reid’s book, first published by Focal Press in 1995, discusses the human relationships involved in lighting design – both between people, and between these people and technology. Lighting design is low on objective facts and high on debatable opinions, says the author. Much of the lighting designer’s thinking tends to be lateral – intuitive rather than logical. So, inevitably, the book is written from a highly personal viewpoint. Its ‘thinking aloud’ approach is one Francis Reid has used in his magazine writings over the past 30 years and readers may recognise some re-working of earlier attempts to explain the mysteries of lighting design.

Written in an easy, informal style, Lighting the Stage draws on the author’s many years experience as a world renowned lighting designer and teacher to pass on tips and pointers which will interest and stimulate all those concerned with using designed light on stage. Since the book includes discussion on many aspects of lighting which are matters of opinion rather than fact, it will provide lecturers with a valuable source of ideas for essay assignments and research projects.

Other books published by Francis Reid include: The Stage Lighting Handbook, The Staging Handbook, The ABC of Stage Technology, The ABC of Stage Lighting, The ABC of Theatre Jargon, Discovering Stage Lighting, Designing for the Theatre and Stages for Tomorrow.

Author: Francis Reid
Publication Date: 9th July 2001
Book Format: Paperback
Kindle Version: Click here to buy from Amazon
Price: £14.95


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This book has a title that could almost be considered a misnomer – don’t buy it if you want to learn about lighting a stage. If, however, you want to learn about what it is like to be a lighting designer, then this is the book for you. It’s a guide to living the LD’s life, with quite a historical, even autobiographical, look at lighting design. 

Being a well-known designer and extensive author in his own right, Reid’s book makes for entertaining reading on the vagaries of the LD’s job. It is, as he points out, essentially a people industry we work in and the book attempts to look at the LD as a person and what makes them tick, their priorities and where they fit in to the creative team. Accordingly, the reader will find no plans, pictures of productions or photographs of equipment, just lots of anecdotal stories and ‘thinking aloud’ type observations by which Reid tries to describe effectively what sort of person the lighting designer is, and what they do.

Reid also takes the reader on a journey through the creative tools. Learning to use light, styling it and making it create the desired atmosphere, along with the invariably limited resources and fancy control equipment, all go to make for an interesting and enjoyable read.