Lighting Words and Phrases

A few words / phrases to help you communicate with lighting specialists.


light from behind / above the actor, not designed to light the face.
e.g. “We’ll use the blue backlight for the scene changes at a low level, as well as for the night-time scene”


to increase the intensity (brightness) of a lighting state or individual lantern, or to construct a lighting stage.

  • e.g. “OK – can you go to blackout and we’ll build a new state for the next scene”
    “At the end of the song, the state should build over 4 seconds”
  • “Here’s where we build the stage left area for Clive’s entrance”
  • “Build the chair as she sits down”


reduce the intensity either of the whole state or down to a particular area.

  • “Check the state a bit when she exits”
  • “At the end of the song check to downstage left for the final note.”
  • “Check stage left as he moves to the right.”


a lighting state which completely replaces the current state on stage

  • “At the end of the scene crossfade to the downstage right special”


light from above and to the side of the actors, crossing the stage at 90 degrees to the audiences’ view.

  • e.g. “During the dance scene, we’ll add the red crosslight to emphasise the costumes”


A recorded lighting state OR the action / text that initiates a lighting or sound change of any kind.

  • e.g. “The cue to go to blackout is when she turns upstage”
  • “This cue is used again in scene three”


A light from directly above the acting area.

  • e.g. “The spot at the end of scene one is a tight downlight, covering just the chair”


return to the previous level

  • “After the blackout restore to the state for scene three”
  • “After the wicked Queen exits, restore to the happy state”


a lantern used for a specific moment during the performance

    • e.g. “The downstage centre special needs to be refocussed off the edge of the stage”
    • “The special at the top of the staircase needs to only light the actress’s head”


a lighting setup used at a particular point during the performance

  • e.g. “The dim state we setup for the basement scene will be used everytime that music plays”
  • “At the end of the scene, go to the blue working light state we use for scene changes”


light from below the actors, from a light source on the stage floor.

  • e.g. “When the chorus enters I’d like an uplight to cover them from downstage right”


A smooth even light across the stage.