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The Lighting Design Process
Two Approaches: Remember that the word "design" implies both planning and execution, which implies that the designer goes through a process. The process of lighting a play, dance piece, or opera is highly subjective; each designer has to develop a process that works for her or him. This, of course, can only happen over a period of time and, depending on each individual situation, there may be slight differences in process for each production.

Judy and Jeff have developed similar, but slightly different, processes. Here is Judy's:

This is a checklist and I've found through the years that if I go through each step, the lighting will always be ok � more or less inspired, but always appropriate to the play, good enough and trouble free.
  1. Before You Start: After you get the job (even before pre-production meetings), acquire information on two separate aspects:
    1. Technical: Under what conditions will the play be produced?
      1. Physical: will it perform in the same theater throughout its run?
        • If so, what are the physical conditions of that venue? This includes everything concerned with rigging the lights:
          • What lighting positions are there? (Front of house, over-stage electric or counterweight pipes, possibilities for sidelights, footlights).
          • Are there any problems or limits regarding the electrical power supply?
        • If the play will tour, what kind of theaters will it tour? (size, limitations).
      2. Equipment:
        • Does the theater have its own equipment or will it be rented?
        • What options are there for extra equipment?
        • Get a complete list of existing equipment, including:
          • instruments
          • dimmers
          • control.
          This should be a list of that equipment which is currently functional and ready for use; it does you no good for a fixture to be in the theatre, but broken.
      3. Routine:

        Will the play be in repertory with other plays? If so,

        • How frequently will the lighting be taken down and reset?
        • How much time will there be to light this play before its first production? Before each subsequent performance?
      4. People:
        • With whom will you be working?
        • How many electricians will be called for the first production week, and for ensuing setups if it is in rep/touring?
        • Meet, if possible, the master electrician/ lighting director of the theater.
    2. Artistic:
      1. Read the play: Read the play twice.
        • First read it through just to gain your own personal impression of it.
        • The second time read it through with two different sheets of paper.
          • On the first, write down everything which appears in the text itself which expressly relates to lighting, because if an actor says "it's getting dark" you'll usually need to make it get dark.

            In a different column write down everything appearing in stage directions, because these might not dictate lighting: they might not be the playwright's instructions but rather have originated in a previous production. Even if they are from the original play, the director and you could choose to ignore them.

            In a third column write down any ideas or specific lighting impressions that cross your mind. Here's an example:

            Page number Text Stage directions Ideas/impressions
            35 Anna: "it's dark in here"    
            36   Anna turns on light Fluorescent?
            38     Gets darker and spookier (evening falls)
          • On your second sheet of paper, as you read, summarize the play: Write down each act/scene number, and summarize in a sentence or two what happens in that scene. This will give you an idea of the dynamic development and structure of the play.
      2. Research the play:
        • Where is it set? If in a different country/time, what kind of light would there be? Norway on a summer night is very different from New York.
        • If set in a previous age, what light sources would have been used inside buildings? This way, when you do meet the director and set designer, you will have practical information to use in discussion.
      3. What kind of play is it?
        • What style?
        • Who is the author?
        • What other plays has he written?
        You may never need to use this knowledge, but it may help you understand the director's concept, or it may help give you ideas.
      4. Who are the other people on your creative team (director, other designers)?

        If you don't know them, try to find out what kind of work they have done before. For instance � if this is a director who always does plays in his own idiomatic style regardless of the play's own style or period, you should know this before you meet him, and not start rattling off your new found knowledge of the play's background.

  2. Preproduction:
    1. First meeting with the director, set designer, other contributors. Despite all your research, in this meeting you LISTEN. The director has thought a lot more about the play than you have, and generally has some general conception of what she wants. Your aim is to understand this and develop a dialogue. Oddly enough, the best way to do this is not to talk much but to listen. If the director starts out talking about what spotlights she wants, listen politely and afterwards ask gentle questions aimed at understanding the general style and conception. Doing this is an art in itself � one useful tactic might be to ask indirect questions about casting, choice of music, etc., which will lead the director on to talk about concept. (It's often not productive to ask bluntly "OK, what's your concept?")
    2. Subsequent preproduction meetings will be held as the set and costume designs emerge, until the final set model is presented. Here you want to be on the lookout for possibilities and problems in positioning the lights, because this is where suggestions can still be easy and effective (for example, building lighting positions into the set when there are no openings for lights from outside.)
    3. Final pre-production meeting, where all the technical people are present. This is your chance to request special lighting equipment and discuss scheduling.
  3. Early Rehearsal Period:

    At this point you don't have much to do since there is generally not much point in watching rehearsals at this stage. It's a good idea to keep in contact with the director and other designers, and you will be thinking about the play, casting around for ideas, looking at paintings for example to try and clarify visual ideas. There are two practical procedural steps I've found invaluable at this stage:

    • Visit the shop where the scenery is being built, as soon as there is something to see. Often changes are made as the set is built and nobody thought it would be relevant to you � but that open window you had planned on lighting is now opaque fiberglass, for instance. Also often you get clearer or new ideas when you see a set life size rather than model size.
    • Visit the shop where the costumes are being made � seeing the actual cloth and costumes is important, often changes have been made from the drawings, for instance the designer may have found a lovely brocade shot with gold which was not in the original sketch.
  4. Runs-through

    If you're lucky you'll get to see several runs-through but often you are limited to one. During the run you do not sit back and let ideas flow. You are busy all the time making two different sets of notes:

    1. Note down the mise en scene (who goes where). This may often change later, but it's helpful to write it down for two reasons:
      1. It will aid you in talking to the director after rehearsal.
      2. It keeps you focused and prevents your mind from drifting (just like taking notes in class.)
    2. Make a preliminary cue synopsis. This should include cue number, count (time up/down), when the cue starts, what the aim of the cue is in terms of atmosphere and effect, and specific lighting elements to be used. At the start of rehearsal this will necessarily be limited to "lights up slowly" etc., but as the rehearsal progresses it will become clearer, and the counts will become more precise. You need both a column for "what", indicating the feeling and atmosphere, as well as a column with explicit lighting elements that you plan to use for the cue; when executing the lighting later, you may find that your choice of elements here doesn't work, and you will want to refer to "what" for your original intention. You'll be refining and reworking this cue synopsis later for use during plotting of the lights. Example of a preliminary rehearsal version:
      Cue Count When What Elements
      1 3/9 Anna falls Isolate Anna, not realistic Spot down center (sharp and cold)
      2 60 Jim: "Oh no!" General daylight, happy feeling Sun from window, warm backlight, warm wash
    3. Put together a list of lighting elements. This will be a simplified and organized version of the last column of your cue synopsis. An element is a light or set of lights which fulfill a single purpose. As a rule this means they have the same or similar angle and color. Examples:
      • warm diagonal backlight
      • cool head-on acting area coverage
      • greenish rectangular special down center
      Afterwards you will translate the list of elements into a light plot, but in fact the element list is your lighting plan; then it is just a technical process to convert it into details of lighting instruments with gels, channel assignments, positions.

      After the run-through, you meet with the director, and this time you do a lot of talking. You want the director to understand what you are going to do, and you want to make sure it agrees with what she had in mind, and what you have been talking about till now. If possible � if there is time, and if the director is amenable to this kind of thing � it can help to do "dry cues" � to go over cues in detail before the actual lighting sessions.

  5. Plans
    1. Now you make a complete set of lighting plans: layout and instrument schedule (see "Graphics" and"Paperwork").
    2. At this point you should refine and update your cue synopsis. Add a column with explicit channel levels and suggested intensities for each cue � you may not use them, and the intensities will most probably change � but it will help you get started and get over humps.
    3. Meet with the chief electrician to go over the lighting plot and equipment list.
  6. Production

    WARNING: Do NOT agree to go on to the next stage before finishing the current one. For instance � don't start focusing till everything works, and NEVER start cues before you have everything patched and focused!

    1. Setup: rig the lights, patch them, get everything working.
    2. Focus: Aim the fixtures at the targets you want them to light.
    3. Cues: Plot the lighting states. The following people MUST be present during this step:
      • Director
      • Stage manager
      • Board operator
      • Stage walkers � people to stand on stage so that you are lighting human faces and not just scenery.
      People whose presence is helpful:
      • Set designer
      • Extra electricians to help make changes if necessary.
    4. Cue-to-cue rehearsal: With the actors, go through the play just doing cues, and skipping the scenes. In a particularly simple production it's possible to skip this and go straight to a run through.
    5. Full technical rehearsal: If the production is complicated, with sound cues, set cues etc., there should be another rehearsal devoted to integrating all technical aspects of the production.
    6. Runs-through of the play: There may be a run through where you have the option to stop and make changes (personally, I prefer to wait till after the run and then go back for corrections). Afterwards there will be runs-through where you can't stop, but will have sessions afterwards for corrections.
    7. Dress rehearsal and opening.
  7. Post-production
    • It's your responsibility to leave a full set of plans including focus plots, so that the crew will be able to recreate the production later.
    • If the show is going to tour, you must also prepare a touring setup if necessary, taking into account the different circumstances (smaller theaters? Less time or crew for setup?) Since this obviously involves more work than would a non-touring show, you should negotiate the compensation for this at the time you accept the assignment.
    • I generally try to go back to the theater for the second setup, if the show is being performed in rotating repertory.

Jeff's process is much the same, with some slight differences:

  1. Read the Play.

    I read the play at least three times.

    1. The first time is to get a general feel for the script and the playwright's style.
    2. The second time, I am starting to get — and jot down — ideas.
    3. By the third reading, I'm starting to get serious about concept and style. I can't think in terms of specific cues or looks, of course — I have to know much more about what the director, actors, and other designers are doing before I can do that — but I'm developing my ideas as to how I want to approach the production.
  2. Script Analysis.

    During the second and third readings, I am beginning my script analysis, which I do using a form such as this:

    Notice the blank lines; I use this form throughout the rehearsal period and the blank space allows me to insert items throughout the process.

    Unlike the Instrument Schedule, Switchboard Hookup, and other database reports (which are discussed in"Paperwork"), whose primary function is to convey information to the electricians, the script analysis form exists solely for the lighting designer's use in developing her/his ideas. As such, the designer can have much more flexibility in terms of layout and content; as you gain more experience, you can/should develop the form (or forms) and system that work best for you.

  3. Talk to the Director.

    Now I'm ready to talk to the director. It's always preferable for him or her to talk to me in concepts rather than in specifics — to tell me, for example, that "this production is about man's inhumanity to man" rather than "I want lots of blue light". Here and throughout the process, it is much better if I can tactfully get the director to identify the problem (for example, "it looks too warm") rather than dictate the solution ("bring up the blues").

    Even the busiest director probably does not direct more than eight shows a year and on each of those productions, s/he has to think about actors and sets and costumes and props....and lighting. I light between 15-20 shows a year and all I have to think about is lighting. If I'm not more familiar with the lighting vocabulary than is the director, the production has hired the wrong designer.

    For example, the solution to the above-mentioned problem ("it looks too warm") may well be to take the warm lights to a lower level or to bring a cool light elsewhere on stage to a lower level. (See the discussion of "complementary colors" in the "Color Mixing" section.) If I have a blue and an amber near each other, they reinforce each other — the amber makes the blue seem bluer and the blue makes the amber seem more amber. Lowering the level of the blue will make the actors in the warmer light appear to be less yellow...but this is a technique with which — while it might be the superior approach in many situations — most directors are unlikely to be familiar (and there's no reason they should be; that is, after all, why they hired you).

  4. Watching Rehearsals.

    I often find it helpful to watch early rehearsals, as this can give valuable insight into the director's thinking. This is not always possible, especially when the production is rehearsing and performing in a city many miles from my home. Indeed, I have known some very good designers who substituted substantial time watching rehearsals for time spent reading the script. This has advantages and disadvantages:

    1. Advantages: The designer gets insight into the director's approach, as well as that of the actors. If the production has no script (dance concerts come to mind, as well as some improvisational or developmental theatres), this may be the only way to learn the show.

      In the case of dance, I often substitute watching videos for actual attendance at rehearsal. This also has advantages and disadvantages:

      1. Advantages: I can watch the piece many more times than I could watch a rehearsal with live performers. I can also stop and start, and repeat sections as I see the need.
      2. Disadvantages: Because video is 2-dimensional, spatial relationships are often difficult to determine. Union rules and/or copyright laws may preclude rehearsals' being videotaped. In the case of new works, choreography may not be completed early enough to enable me to learn the piece in this manner.
    2. Disadvantages: Unless the rehearsals are runs-through, I won't get an overview of the show and I will lose the context of each scene. This method is also extremely time-consuming. It is not always possible to see more than one or two runs-through, especially if the show is being presented in a city other than the one in which I live.
  5. The cues must be written (and preferably recorded into the console, assuming it's a computer board) before the first technical rehearsal. You may well change these over the course of technical rehearsals, but having them pre-written gives you a starting point and keeps you from wasting the actors' time. Note that the technical rehearsal is not where the lighting design is created; that happens inside the designer's head. The tech rehearsal is where the design is first realized and where the process of refining it begins. It is not the place for actors to stand idly by while the designer laboriously builds cues one channel at a time, nor is it the place for the designer to sit idly by while the director and actors reblock the show.

    It may take you some time to develop the ability to accurately write cues without first seeing the lights on stage. Rest assured that you will eventually be able to do it; like any other skill, it's an ability that develops with practice.

    During the days of tech and dress rehearsals, cues will be adjusted or added (or sometimes cut). Before and after rehearsals, and sometimes during actor breaks, focus may be adjusted, and sometimes lights are added or moved.

    I do not make these adjustments while the actors are "on the clock". This is disrespectful of their time. Likewise, if I can make cue adjustments "on the fly" (rather than while actors are standing around waiting for me), I will do so, and I will do so in as subtle a manner as possible so as not to distract the actors. When actors realize that you are courteous enough not to waste their time, they are usually more patient at those times when you absolutely must make adjustments in real time.

  6. By the time we reach the final dress rehearsal or preview (previews, as far as this process goes, are in a neverland between dress rehearsals and performances. I might make changes before or after a preview, but I am unlikely to make adjustments during one), the show should be in its final state. After final dress or preview, nothing other than the most minor of changes should be made. We do not try things out on paying audiences.
The Rehearsal Arc: Lighting designers come up against many different work situations, ranging from extremely pressured, with only a few days to get a show up, to extensive rehearsal periods as in some repertory theater situations. We give examples here of two extreme situations: Summer stock, where the schedule is very, very tight and the designer must have great technical skill to get it done well, and a fairly leisurely repertory situation. Bear in mind that these are only two examples; others include lighting for commercial theater, for plays on tour, school plays, community theater, and so on, and even within these two examples, there will be an almost infinite number of variations.

First is a typical rehearsal schedule for an Equity summer stock production. There are many different Equity contracts (and, of course, you may be doing a non-Equity show), but this is typical for summer stock and even many year-round small professional theaters:

13 days before
Opening Night
First day of rehearsal. May start with a designers' presentation, at which the artists responsible for the lighting, set, costume, and sound designs are asked to explain, in general terms, how they plan to approach the production. As the lighting designer, you will not yet have seen any blocking, of course; it is perfectly acceptable to say that you largely base your lighting on what the director and actors are doing and therefore are not yet ready to discuss your concept. The first rehearsal may be preceded or followed by a production meeting.

If the production is being rehearsed or performed in a city other than the one in which you reside, you may not even have arrived by this point.

7 days before
Opening Night
Production meeting.
4-5 days before
Opening Night
Light plot and paperwork given to Master Electrician.
4 days before
Opening Night
Designer run-through. A run-through of the play specifically so that the designers and technicians may see what the actors are doing. It may or may not be the very first time the actors have run through the entire play. You should certainly (with the director's permission) attend any previous runs-through, as well as any runs of specific acts. After the designer run-through, you may need to make changes to the plot and/or paperwork. These should be communicated to the Master Electrician as soon as possible.
3 days before
Opening Night
Paper tech. The stage manager, director, and designers meet (usually not in the theater) around a table and talk through the show, cue by cue. This is not the place and time for initial discussion of design ideas; those should have been discussed previously in design conferences between the director and the various designers.
Previous production closes. The set and lights are struck. The new light plot is hung and circuited. The new set is loaded in and put together.
2 days before
Opening Night
[Morning/Afternoon] The plot is focused.
[Evening] Technical rehearsal, with actors.
1 day before
Opening Night
10-out-of-12. Under AEA rules, on one day during the week prior to opening, the actors may work a 12-hour day (with a 2 hour break in the middle, meaning they work 10 hours out of a total of 12). For designers and technicians, this often means a "14-out-of-14", with work notes being done before the rehearsal and during the 2-hour break. and a production meeting afterwards. Some Equity contracts allow more than one 10-out-of-12.

A typical 10-out-of-12 might follow this flow:

  • Work notes, before actors' call.
  • Finish teching the show.
  • Run-through, with all technical elements.
  • Work notes, during actors' 2-hour break.
  • Actors' half-hour costume call.
  • Dress rehearsal.
  • End of actors' day. Production meeting.
Opening Night: [Afternoon]. Dress rehearsal (some costumes may be unavailable), followed by production meeting.
[Evening]. First performance.
1 day after
Opening Night
First day of rehearsal (next production). Production meeting and designers' presentation, as before.

Judy offers this typical rehearsal period for a repertory company working within its own theater building. The exact schedule depends on the complexity of the play and lighting. This example assumes a complicated production with set changes, many sound and lighting cues. For simpler productions less time will be necessary during production week:

2-3 months before Opening Night:: First reading of the play. The designers are invited as well, and if a set model is ready, it will be shown to the actors. [Jeff notes that this time frame is typical in Israel and parts of Europe, but in the US, it would be extremely unusual for an Equity production to have more than a month's worth of rehearsal time, although amateur and educational productions may have rehearsal periods that span several months. The other end of this extreme would be the former Soviet Union, in which plays were often rehearsed for several years before opening. Judy points out that even today, in Europe, Israel, and the US, there are experimental theater groups that rehearse for months and months and sometimes over a year.]
2-3 weeks before Opening Night:: Run-through of the play, generally in a rehearsal room, since usually the stage is full of the set for a different production. Hopefully there will be more than one run-through, but it's possible that after the first run-through you will have to complete the lighting plot and paperwork and submit it to the chief electrician.

After this (see: "process" above), you will talk to the director and possibly have a session doing dry cues, at a table; this depends on the director as well as on the complexity of the lighting,

6-10 days before Opening Night:: Production week, which could last 6 days or even 10 (rare, except in the case of opera).
  • Day 1: Set-up of scenery and lights. If the scenery would prevent lighting pipes from being lowered to working height, the location of all set pieces will be marked on the floor, and then lights will be hung first and the scenery afterwards. If not, it may be better to hang the lights when the scenery is in place.
  • Day 1 afternoon/evening or day 2:, depending on complexity of lighting and set: Focus the lights.
  • Day 2: "Dry tech" session to plot lighting cues, with director, designer, and stand-ins on stage.

    Separate session to determine sound cues and balance.

    Separate session to practice set changes.

  • Day 2 or 3: Rehearse the play going from cue-to-cue. That is, the actors will begin, proceed through the cue and continue until the director, the stage manager, or you tell them to stop, and then skip to just before the next cue, and so on.

    If the lighting is simple this stage may be skipped. Alternately, this rehearsal may be combined with a general technical cue-to-cue, where sound and set cues are integrated as well.

  • Day 3 or 4: Technical rehearsal integrating all aspects of the show. This may still be a cue-to-cue, going through lighting, sound and set cues and putting them all together for the first time. If so, the next step is a full run through, which may be stopped if necessary to iron out trouble.

    At this point there may also be a dress parade, where the actors try on the finished costumes and come out on stage under lights, and the director and costume designer discuss problems and alterations.

  • Day 4 or 5: Run-through which is no longer dedicated to technical problems but to the actors. This may already be with costume. There may be runs-through in the morning and evening, or there may be one run through a day and one rehearsal with the actors to go over specific scenes.

    The best situations are leisurely enough to have a couple of days of full rehearsals. The lighting designer generally will not be able to stop these rehearsals to correct lighting, but may correct on the fly, or ask for some time with the actors after rehearsal for corrections. This period allows you to polish off the rough edges of your work, fix timing, clarify and improve the lighting.

  • End of production week: Dress rehearsal (often with invited audience).
Opening Night:: First performance.

In true "repertory" theaters, the same play will run for a set period, alternating with other plays. They may alternate once a week, once every three days, or once a month, depending on the theater routine. After the first performance, while the lighting is still in place, the designer must meet with the person in charge of lighting operation, to go over focus charts and insure that the focusing is clear, so that it may be accurately reproduced each time the production is restored.

The Lighting Designer and the Stage Manager: With the possible exception of the Master Electrician, a lighting designer's closest and most symbiotic professional relationship is with the stage manager. No matter how gorgeous your cues are, if they're not called correctly, your work will have been for naught.

You will be working with the stage manager throughout the production process. Here are some things to remember (with experience, these will become second nature to you):

  • Make sure you and the stage manager are working with the same version of the script, with the same page numbers.

    In the case of most productions, this will not be an issue, but in the case of new plays, which are in a constant process of rewrite and revision, and classics such as Shakespeare, which are available in a number of different formats from a number of sources, it can be a very big issue indeed. With a new play, even if your version of the script is identical to that of the stage manager, the pagination may be inconsistent if your copies were printed on different printers (many playwrights not having mastered the ability to insert "hard" page feeds).

    This will become very important when you get to the point at which you and the stage manager are discussing cue placement.

  • Communicate cue placement to the stage manager in a timely and considerate manner.

    Some stage managers prefer to get a list of cues that they can put into their books at their convenience. Others prefer to sit down with the designer and go through the script. Some like to write the cues during a "paper tech". A paper tech is a production meeting, before the first technical rehearsal, in which the stage manager, the designers, and the director discuss the various cues and the general flow of the production, without actually running the cues. It is often followed by a "dry tech", in which the cues are run without actors (although it is imperative that someone be walking the stage).

    In very rare cases, the stage manager may prefer to write the cues during the first technical rehearsal with the actors. This is wasteful of the actors' time, and you should tactfully suggest one of the other methods. Barring this, try to accommodate the stage manager's wishes, if at all possible. Her/his job is a difficult one and anything you can do to make it easier will be appreciated.

  • Tell the stage manager what the cue does and what the count is.

    For example: "It comes up in 30 seconds and highlights DL" or "It emphasizes Tom's entrance." The stage manager will usually be more familiar than you with the flow of the production and, given this information, will be able to find the right place to call the cue. Of course, if you're using the cue to provide punctuation, then you should communicate clearly and precisely where you want the cue to start.

  • Tell the stage manager, as far in advance as possible, of any booms or other obstructions you plan to place backstage.

    Likewise, notify him or her as early as possible of any backstage electrics work (for example, changing gels) that will be happening during the performance.

  • Also tell the stage manager of any autofollows.
  • During the rehearsal period, do not wait until the last minute to give the stage manager large numbers of cue notes.

    Between technical rehearsals, you are likely to have several notes on cues that are cut, added, or moved. Do not give these to the stage manager at the last minute, right before the next rehearsal begins. S/he needs time to process the new data, ask questions about anything that may be unclear, and get the corrections into the prompt script. In particularly fast-paced environments such as summer stock, you may have no alternative, but try to get notes to the stage manager as early as possible.

  • There are times when the interests of the lighting designer and those of the stage manager may seem to conflict.

    A common example of this would be those times when the lighting designer and the electricians are trying to complete a focus call before the start of rehearsal and the stage management staff needs the stage in order to set up for the same rehearsal. Another example would be the designer's need for "dark time" when stage management needs light on stage in order to do their work. Remember that it's in everyone's interest for – and everyone wants – all elements of the production to flow smoothly; find ways to compromise and ensure that you get what you need in order to do your job well and others get what they need in order to do theirs.

AEA Stage Manager June Abernathy shares these thoughts:

[Special thanks to AEA stage managers Allison Deutsch and Erin Joy Swank.]

Neil Gaiman's 8 Rules of Writing: In September of 2012, the NY Times published, as part of an ongoing series, a list of "rules of writing" composed by Neil Gaiman. With only minor editing, they apply equally to lighting design as well as to any other art form.
  1. Write. In the case of a lighting designer, if you're not currently lighting a show, at least be thinking about lighting. Observe lighting in nature. Analyze other designers' work. When you're listening to music, think about the way you would light each song. Look at paintings and photographs and movies, and analyze the way those artists used light.
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down. When you're starting a new project, don't be intimidated by that big, blank piece of paper (or that big, blank, monitor screen). Don't think, "I have to draft this whole plot"; think, "I have to draw the next fixture".
  3. Finish what you�re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it. Self-explanatory.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you�ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is. In the case of the lighting design, this will almost always be the director, and often the artistic director.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something�s wrong or doesn�t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving. The show's open. Move on.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you�re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it�s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I�m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. Remember that theatre is a collaborative art form, so you're not entirely free to just do whatever you want, but if you believe that your design serves the show — and if the director agrees — don't worry if what you've done violates what the conventional wisdom holds to be the "rules" of lighting design...even those listed elsewhere on this site.