The Design Approach Statement should not be overly long but, that said, should be fully descriptive of your ideas. Write a draft, reread it, edit it and pare it down to the essentials. The writing of this is, in essence, a design of its own. Use it to refine how you think about the script. Say as much as you can in as few words as are absolutely necessary, while expressing your ideas completely. Please include and follow the order of these headings in your writing.

The Story:

Tell the story briefly in two or three paragraphs. This is not a chronological listing of plot occurrences—first this happens, then that happens, and then another thing happens—but an explanation of the story that is being told in the play. Don't get bogged down in extraneous details. Give the primary events and their effects on the characters. Give location, historical time, passage of time, and any other salient features which will help us to understand the story. This is objective, not subjective.

Point of View:

This is essentially a “thesis” statement telling us your point of view of the story. What do you see as the main argument? How is the story relative to our own time or to a contemporary audience? What do you see as the major themes in the story? How does the environment relate to the telling of the story and the support of the argument? This is subjective, not objective.

The Environment:

This is not the location. It is the emotional or intellectual world in which the action takes place. Clearly identifying the environment opens a multitude of design possibilities which merely providing a location does not. (You may decide that the location and the environment are the same place, but this needs to be explored and explained.) Remember that his is a lighting class.

Break your observations of environment into the following three types:

     Location/physical environment:

What are the geographical information, date, season, time of day, weather? How is the physical environment arranged: spacious/confined, light/dark, organized/chaotic, etc.? How do these affect how you understand the play?

     Emotional or intellectual environment:

May be expressed as objective elements such as composition, color, movement, etc. or, perhaps more effectively, as parallels or opposites such as interior/exterior, warm/cold, dark/light, oppressive/freeing, frightening/soothing, etc.?

     Political or social environment:

What are the society, economics, culture, and politics of this world? What conflicts are there? What are the relationships between the characters? What are their personal traits that affect those relationshipes? Who has power over whom?

Visual Imagery and Metaphor:

The environment described in visual terms, either concretely as in “a sour gas-lit environment like a painting by Lautrec”, or more freely as in “An environment drained of color and life save for the glow of a small candle somewhere in the distance”. This should be poetic and descriptive without getting hyperbolic. It's a way to begin talking about the play in purely abstract visual terms.

Imagery and metaphor from the play itself should also be used whenever possible; playwrights generally use a lot of imagery (the plays you will get in this class are full of imagery). Remember this is lighting class. Again, this is not the location.


How you might begin to approach the environment of this play in terms of lighting. This can be incomplete and will surely change, but it is a place to start. Don't get locked in at this point — perhaps you relate to you visual imagery and merely speculate on how that might be used, whether with color or texture or imagery. I want to know what it looks like in your mind, not what equipment to order from the shop. So, "Bright white light from a high angle streams in for Stage right while shadows are filled with deep blue from overhead washes" is the kind of specific, but non-technical, thing I'm looking for.


You should include several images, in color, of your research for the play. these can be literally descriptive of location and characters, but there must be images that express lighting ideas that evoke mood, time of day, color palette, and metaphor. Include captions or notes to describe what we are looking at. "Only the sky in this photo is relevant."

This should be typed , spell-checked and proofread for omissions and continuity.  The quality of the writing matters. It will be considered as part of the final grade of each project.

THETR 359:

Design Approach Statement