STAGE LIGHTING DESIGN: Richard Pilbrow, Nick Hern Books

First Paperback Version published in the UK by NICK HERN BOOKS, 2008.
ISBN: 978 185459 996 4.
RRP: 19.99.

Review: Rod Dungate, 8 September 2008.
A link to the book on Amazon is at the end of the review.

A comprehensive, readable and inspiring book.

It’s rare you read a book that seems to say everything. This is not a claim Richard Pilbrow makes, himself – it’s my observation. Pilbrow, whose name might be considered by some synonymous with the term stage lighting, actually says that the book could be considered the fifth version of one started in 1970 and goes on to say he’s added much ‘stuff’.

STAGE LIGHTING DESIGN is truly comprehensive. Pilbrow’s great knowledge and practical experience shine out from every page. His manner, though, is easy-going, easily accessible. So there’s much in here for the experienced and novice lighting designer and for others interested in theatre and its workings.

He begins with the basics of lighting and lighting design, moves through colour to the challenges of various styles of performance and performing space. Throughout there are illustrations (over 400 black and white and more than 60 stunning ones in colour) and copies of lighting plots, cue sheets and diagrams taken from actual productions.

But this is not a dry manual, Pilbrow peppers his book with delightful anecdotes. He describes a Hebridean sunset he witnesses as he writes and describes the different colours – the setting sun, the sea, the storm clouds. Then adds, ‘I would hesitate before offering any director such a Technicolor vision on the stage!’ Realism has its pitfalls . . . Pilbrow combines, in this book, artist and teacher – a key piece of advice: ‘One of the most wonderful ways of studying lighting is to open your eyes and look.’

Pilbrow gives us a good long look inside the stage lighting business helping us, with interviews, to get to know many of the foremost practitioners. These snapshots contain a wealth of detail, often including training and early days. He intersperses these with episodes of his own career – Pilbrow Story 6: Horror Stories is particularly enlightening!

His section on the history of theatre lighting is a real treasure and there’s a rich thread in the book of interesting facts. Try this one: in the 1950s about 200 instruments were common in a single rig, by 1995 600 – 1200 were commonly in use; the big Vegas shows might use as many as 4000.

STAGE LIGHTING DESIGN gives insight and inspiration.

Here’s the Amazon link:

2008-09-08 22:01:06

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