Review – A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting by Steven Louis Shelley

I received what I thought would be just another book on stage lighting, and I was wrong with this assumption. I realised, on reading this book that is a gem of information. Even though it does refer to the American electrical standards etc the rest of the book is very relevant and very useful. Steven the author is a very skilled practitioner of lighting and lighting design. He is also the fellow that invented and is patent holder of the award winning Field Templates™ and SoftSymbols ™. With over 35 years of experience in lighting he has a wealth of information to pass on to us mere mortals. The book is very easy reading. The book covers areas such as paperwork, the processes involved in working out what equipment you require, planning bump in and set up, focussing and plotting, and the performance.

This book is very comprehensive in its coverage of the lighting process. It gives you an insight into how things are done on very large shows. All of these techniques can of course be scaled to use with smaller shows.  I found a lot of very useful information and ideas which I will use in my own lighting designs.  The book covers lots of the basic elements of lighting design –such as beam overlapping, lighting angles, patching. And if you are new to lighting design or a seasoned professional the information is very helpful. Steven gives many examples using an imaginary musical for which he then goes through the lighting process from design to execution. It is like a step by step guide. He also provides many anecdotes. This book is a real world look at the processes involved with lighting design. It is not a guide to equipment or the design process it is what is needed to get the design from your mind into the theatre in the best possible way. Steven has provided all sorts of relevant information and ideas that you should find plenty to help you in your design and execution process.

This is a must have book to have on the shelf along side Francis Reid and Richard Pilbrow. This book is very entertaining and educational. It is also great as reference material for practising professionals.  I thoroughly recommend this book for all lighting people. You will find yourself referring to it again and again. So go and get yourself a copy.

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