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The Speed of Light

Dialogues on Lighting Design and Technological Change

By Linda Essig

Over the last twenty-five years, lighting design has undergone a series of radical changes. With the advent of computerized lighting control, automated lights, and a standard control protocol, lighting designers have acquired a set of tremendously powerful tools that allow effects never previously possible.

Linda Essig has interviewed twenty luminaries of lighting design and engineering about these changes and how they have affected the art, science, and business of contemporary theatre. Among those interviewed are:

  • Ken Billington (Chicago, On the Twentieth Century)
  • Natasha Katz (Beauty and the Beast, Aida)
  • Neil Peter Jampolis (Sherlock Holmes)
  • Dennis Parichy (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)
  • Jane Reisman (Black and Blue).
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Over the last twenty-five years, lighting design has undergone a series of radical changes. With the advent of computerized lighting control, automated lights, and a standard control protocol, lighting designers have acquired a set of tremendously powerful tools that allow effects never previously possible.

Linda Essig has interviewed twenty luminaries of lighting design and engineering about these changes and how they have affected the art, science, and business of contemporary theatre. Among those interviewed are:

  • Ken Billington (Chicago, On the Twentieth Century)
  • Natasha Katz (Beauty and the Beast, Aida)
  • Neil Peter Jampolis (Sherlock Holmes)
  • Dennis Parichy (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)
  • Jane Reisman (Black and Blue).

While discussing technical issues, these professionals let us in on the real nuts and bolts of their work: the problems of running an entire production from the back-up system, the politics behind the creation of standards, the extent to which "gizmoization" does or does not infringe on lighting as an art form.

An excellent resource for teachers, students, and professionals, The Speed of Light analyzes exactly how lighting design has gotten to its present state—a fascinating story in the words of practitioners who know the field best.