THETR 359:

Lighting Design


Class meets

Tuesday 1:40-2:55PM


Room: Sullivan Studio

Final Exam:

Saturday 2:00 - 4:30PM,

Room: Sullivan Studio

Professor Richard W. Chambers

Office: Sawyer 1228

Office Hours: By Appointment



Phone: 617-305-1722 (better to email me)

Course Description:

This is a studio course exploring the process of interpreting dramatic scripts using the medium of light. Projects will include abstract visual responses, copy projects of art prints,  visual research and textual analyses as well as realized lighting projects. A willingness to think beyond convention in order to discover vital ways to pre-visualize a stage picture and shape a production both in space and time is essential.

This is not a graphic skills course, but artistic expression will be a part of the class. We will be drawing, both in class and as homework. You needn't be an accomplished graphic artist, but the practice of drawing will improve how accurately you see light on forms. Basic drawing supplies will be required. Work outside of class in small groups to realize designs in the studio theatre is an essential component of the class. 4 credit hours.

Class Structure:

This class meets twice per week: Tuesdays from 1:40 - 2:55 which will be a class day, and Thursdays from 1:40- 4:00PM, which will be a class and work day.   For purposes of grading, each absence in excess of four (two weeks) will lower your grade 1/3 point (A to A-, etc.) Three “lates”—later than 15 minutes—will equal one absence. Absences in excess of four will result in a failing grade. A note from the office of the Dean of Students regarding a family matter, serious illness, injury or a chronic condition is necessary to be excused beyond this policy.

This is a studio course in the fundamentals of lighting design for the theatre. You will do hands-on individual and group projects that require you to use basic hand tools and possibly climb short step-ladders. Although you will need to apply some graphic skills, it is not a graphic skills course. Neither is it a technical course about electricity or the mechanics of lighting, though rudimentary knowledge of these things is necessary. It is about discovering the visual ways through which a story can be told: its meanings, rhythms, colors, textures, and environments.  

The class will begin slowly with exercises intended to get you to relate text and imagery. It will progress to one-act theatre scripts and the beginnings of developing a design with three-dimensional models. The final project will be a complete design of a one-act opera, including lightng a scaled model, and supporting documentation for the design.

Some classes will be about working in class, some about presentations and critiques, and some about group exercises. You need to come to class alert and prepared to participate with your homework done.

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This quote from the photogtapher Eliot Porter can be applied to lighing, as well:

“You learn to see by practice. It’s just like playing tennis, you get better the more you play. The more you look around at things, the more you see. The more you photograph, the more you realize what can be photographed and what can’t be photographed. You just have to keep doing it.” – Eliot Porter