A Brief History of Stage Lighting

LESSON 1: A Brief History of Stage Lighting



Students will demonstrate their understanding of basic lighting history by taking a written quiz.


Materials Needed:

Pictures of different lighting instruments/types from each time period (can be found at http://www.stage-lighting-museum.com/html/history-1/it-ren.html).  Lesson 1.Lighting Instruments Handout


Seven pieces of paper with the title of a different time period (Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance to the 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century, and 20th Century.) written on each paper.


“A History of Stage Lighting” Packet, which includes a timeline (the info in this packet can be found online at http://www.bartleby.com/65/sc/scenedes.html, and http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/spd130et/histlighting.htm).  Lesson 1.A History of Stage Lighting Handout


History of Lighting quiz.  Lesson 1.History of Lighting Quiz    Lesson 1.Lighting Quiz KEY




Anticipatory Set/ Hook: As students enter the classroom they will be given tickets by an “usher” that read “Admit One: Ancient Greek Theatre.” Other ushers will guide them to their seats. The ushers can be students that you have previously asked to help. The classroom will be completely dark except for the light coming in from outside the classroom. When everyone is seated, the door to the classroom will be shut and the room will be completely dark. Someone will announce, in a very loud theatrical voice, that “Agamemnon will now begin!” Students from an intermediate or advanced acting class will perform a very short scene from Agamemnon in complete darkness. When the scene is over the ushers who were helping out will be assigned to clap so everyone knows the scene is over. The teacher will bring up the lights


Step 1: Transition—The teacher will turn on the lights and ask the students how they liked the show, and how it could have been improved upon. Hopefully one of the students will comment on how some light would have helped, if not, then the teacher will ask them if lighting would have been helpful to the scene.


Step 2: Instruction—Explain to them how in Ancient Greek Theatre cues seem to have been written into Greek plays – the festivals played from sunup to sunset, and many of the lines refer to times of day. The sun was the first major source of lighting instrument, and clouds were the first dimmer.


Step 3: Transition/Checking for Understanding—Uncover a bulletin or chalk board that has your seven pieces of paper with the title of a different time period written on each paper posted on the board. Have pictures of different lighting instruments/types sitting on a table facing down. Have a student come and pick up a piece of paper and match the lighting instruments/types with the time period posted on the board.


Step 4: Instruction/Discussion—When all the pictures have been posted on the board under the different time periods, hand out the Theatre Lighting History timeline to each student. Go over the time line with them and discuss their thoughts on what they think about the lighting changes that have occurred throughout the ages.


Step 5: Checking for Understanding—Ask for volunteers to, one at a time, come up and switch the lighting pictures on the board to their appropriate time periods.


Step 6: Assessment/Discussion—Hand out the lighting history quiz to the students and tell them they have 20 minutes to take the quiz. When time is up, have the students exchange papers with each other and grade them as you tell them the answers. As you go through the answers to the quiz discuss any questions they have.


Assessment: Students can be assessed through their responses to the written quiz, as well as through the matching game played during the lesson.