The Religious Birth of Theatre

Omi Religion Theatre

Few will deny that theatre has its origins in religion.  While civilizations grew, some type of religion evolved as various gods were worshipped and ceremonies and rituals to honor these deities were developed the world over.  Distinctive features of these rituals contributed to the elements of what we now call theater.  The intermediary between the gods and the worshipers, i.e. priest, shaman, clergyman etc., contributed his words – developing dialog, his gestures – creating acting and even dancing, his voice – vocalizing into singing.  Other components employed in the rituals would add music, masks and even make-up which aided in the formation of theater.

Not all historians, however, agree about when the beginning aspects of theatre first appeared.  Most point to the religious ritual and ceremony in the worship of the god Dionysus, god of wine and fertility for Athens in ancient Greece around 700 BCE.  Hymns, termed dithyrambs, were sung by a chorus of about fifteen worshipers to honor their god Dionysus.  The chorus would perform in future years as a procession wearing costumes and masks, and, still later, some of its members would take the part of special characters, introducing proto-actors.

However, placing the introduction of theater back to the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece negates the influence of the Egyptians from as far back as the 2000s BCE.  Passion plays honoring the king-god Osiris, his death and resurrection, were performed each year in Abydos, Egypt around that time, far earlier than the old Greek theatricals.  Some historians actually put the writing of the original Osiris drama as far back as 3200 BCE.

Although theater continued to evolve around the world, it began to disintegrate in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.  It was practically non-existent in that region during the period known as the Dark Ages.  Again, religion was prominent in returning theater to its present state.  A chant, Quem Quseritis, from a tenth century Easter mass is credited with the revival of theater.  During the Matins service on Easter morning, this chant was enacted as a intimate scene of question and answer dialog among a few worshipers.  From this minuscule performance, theater evolved into today’s gigantic entertainment entity according to historical scholars.

Given the role religion has played in creating theater, what can the theatrical world do for today’s religious institutions?  One answer is stage lighting.  During medieval times  huge Gothic cathedrals were designed in order to bring more light and space into them so that the many religious relics being brought from the Holy Land during the Crusades could be displayed and seen.  But no matter how large the churches’ windows became, they were positioned seventy to eighty feet above the floor and never allowed enough light to enter and illuminate all the exquisite  objects and architectural decorations contained within.  The artificial lighting of the time, oil lamps and candles did little to help.  Imagine what today’s stage lighting, such as a pin spot, could do to highlight  a special statue or featured picture in your sanctuary.

Lighting equipment can also be employed to improve whatever musical performances occur in your place of worship by designating individual soloists or adding visual variety and concentration during the moments of important musical passages and key changes.  Theatrical moments can be enhanced with lighting.  Spiritual moments can, and often are, theatrically communicated and stage lighting can help promote your message.

During these times, as the holidays come closer, it is important to have your lighting systems at the ready for your artistic choices.  Statistically, more people come to services during the holidays and, in order to influence them to increase their attendance during the year, the more memorable the holiday experience, the higher the success rate of return will be.

Did you know that a sixth century mystic wrote in his book, The Celestial Hierarchy, that light was divine?  Why not add more light to your religious campus?  Visit www.StageLIghtingStore.com to see the largest selection of theatrical lighting equipment or give Louie an email at Louie @ StageLightingStore.com and ask a question to one of our advisors for free.

Lighting the first Thanksgiving!

Omi at Thanksgiving Table

It was early in the evening in the autumn of 1621.  The inhabitants of the new settlement of Plymouth were busily preparing for the great Thanksgiving feast which was to be held during the next few days.  Many of the Native Americans who had befriended the Pilgrims during the past, harsh year were invited to celebrate their survival with food and festivities.

Although it was only four in the afternoon, the light in the small, basically one-room homes was almost non-existent.  In order to maintain as much heat as possible in the twelve houses which had been built during the past year, the few, tiny windows were covered with wooden shutters.  Natural light just was not available.  Artificial light was necessary, not only to prepare for the upcoming fest, but also for everyday chores.  The candles from England were limited, but the industrious women of the Plymouth colony quickly made their own tapers, and the candlelight was soon shining from the tops of various pieces of furniture.  The candles were made from tallow and beeswax scented with bayberry.  The wicks came from cotton spun by the women of the household.

The first candlesticks the Pilgrims developed were extremely primitive being created from root vegetables such as turnips and potatoes.  The base of the vegetable was planed flat and a circular hole was cut in the top into which the candle was inserted.  Wall-hung candleholders, known as sconces, frequently had polished metal backs to reflect and add to the light.

Candles were practically worthless out of doors in Plymouth, but the Pilgrims quickly   copied the  pine tree torches which were developed by the neighboring Indians. The resin found in the dried branches of the pine tree, especially in the knots, kept these short pieces of branch lit for a substantial length of time.  The heart of the pine limb also contained more resin, or pitch, than the rest of the wood.  This part was shaved into short lengths by the poorer Pilgrim families and used in place of the more expensive candles.  Baskets made of metal containing burning pine knots, and hung in strategic locations, actually became our first street lamps.

Although sufficient light was not available for the first Thanksgiving preparations, the celebration was such a success that it is now repeated on a yearly basis.  But how much more enjoyable the feast is now with our improved lighting.  Now for the theatrically minded, think of how much fun it would be to highlight the turkey with a pin spot and spotlight the other dishes with modern battery operated candles so that we can easily see every scrumptious morsel on the table.

Why do leaves change color? What colors should we project in light?

FB Omi Why Leaves ChangeOne of the most frequently asked questions about the natural world is what causes the flamboyant change of color in deciduous trees, those trees that lose their broad leaves in the fall.  The answer to that question is chemical and depends upon the initiation of, and ending of, the seasonal production of food for the tree.

All living things require food to continue their existence.  Plants are no different.  Trees manufacture their own food during the warm months of late spring and summer.  The chemical chlorophyll is present in large amounts in the young, newly sprouted leaves, and it continues to be produced and destroyed during the warm summer months.

Trees’ leaves are their nutrient manufacturing sites. Taking water from the ground, the plant’s roots direct that water to the leaves which have absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  Chlorophyll is the key element required for the process of photosynthesis, the combining of carbon dioxide, water and sunlight, causing them to change into the sugar glucose.  This glucose is the food which travels from the leaves to the rest of the tree as the plant’s energy and food source. Food is also stored in the tree’s roots during autumn and winter, the time when nutrient production is halted, for use in the following spring.

Not only is chlorophyll the major player in the production of a tree’s food thru its role in photosynthesis, chlorophyll cells are composed of green pigment, and they provide the green color one sees in the leaves during the spring and summer.  But chlorophyll cells require abundant sunlight to exist and, as fall arrives, the days shorten and sunlight lessens.  The green chlorophyll pigment stops being produced and disappears from the leaf.

Due to the abundance of the chlorophyll cells in the leaf throughout the warm seasons, other color pigments, whose cells are also present in the leaf at the same time, are hidden.  Foremost of these additional pigments are the carotenoids and xanthophylls.  People know these pigments best for the colors they produce in fruits and vegetables such as bananas, corn and carrots.  The carotenoids and xanthophylls also gradually change the leaf’s color to the early, beautiful yellows and oranges that signal the beginnings of the leaf color season while the green chlorophyll dissipates entirely.

Allowing the leaves to live longer and continue to produce energy for the plant, other pigments, the anthocyanins, develop after chlorophyll begins to disintegrate. The bright red and purple leaf colors are from these pigments whose cells’ ph determine the variety of reddish hues seen.  Cells that are acidic produce pink to scarlet red colors.  As the acidic content lessens, the hues become a deeper red to purple.

A fourth pigment found in some trees such as oaks are the tannins,  The tannins also develop the golden yellow hues found in trees such as the beech by combining with the carotenoid pigments.  Tannins are also always present in the leaves of the trees which they help color, but they, too, must wait until the  chlorophyll cells have been removed to be noticed.

A number of factors other than chemical influence the hues seen in the fall leaves.  Natural events such as droughts, excessive rainfall, severe heat or killing frosts will limit and dull the beauty of nature’s autumn splendor.  The most successful color presentation will occur after a wet, but warm, spring, a temperate, evenly moist summer and an autumn with cool nights and sun-filled days.  As previously stated, color is determined by the different pigments the leaf contains.  Except for chlorophyll not all pigments are found in every type of tree leaves.  Only those pigments which are originally in, or are created in, the tree leaves during the growing season will determine which part in autumn’s color palette a specific tree will play.

Following is a list of trees and the hues they exhibit during autumn.  You might find this useful when designing lighting for a production that needs projected leaves.  If you know what sort of trees the scenery is based on, then here is a reference as to what colors you should be projecting.

American Beech – golden yellow turning to light orange

American Hornbeam Birch – orange

Aspen – golden yellow

Black Maple – yellow

Black Oak – yellow

Blackjack Oak – red

Black Tupelo – crimson

Bradford Pear – red

Cottonwood – yellow

Dogwood – deep red

Eastern Hop-hornbeam – yellow

Elm drab – brown

Ginkgo – bright yellow

Hickory – golden yellow

Oak – tannish brown

Red Maple – scarlet

Sassafras – red, yellow, orange

Scarlet Oak – scarlet

Silver Maple – yellow-orange

Sourwood – deep red

Southern Red Oak – red

Sugar Maple – red, yellow, orange

Sweet-gum – yellow or red

Tulip Poplar – yellow

White Oak – orange

Winged Sumac – bright red

Yellow Birch – bright yellow

If you want to have some fun with playing with some gobos to project leaves checkout this link…  http://www.stagelightingstore.com/Stage-Lighting-Store/Leaf-Steel-Gobos

If you want to have some fun with some colorful glass to give some multi-colored effects with these gobos check out…

http://www.stagelightingstore.com/Stage-Lighting-Store/Rosco-Colorizers

History of Halloween

Louie Lighting Pumpkin

HALLOWEEN

Part One:  Halloween’s British Isles’ Roots

 The origin of one of our most decorated holidays, Halloween, dates well back into the fifth century BCE.  It emerged from the Celtic celebration of  Samhain held in late October during which light in the form of fire played a central roll.  Samhain was the night to honor the dead and the huge bonfires which were lit provided the light to aid the dead souls on their way to their ultimate destination.

In the morning after the celebration the Druids, Celtic priests, presented each family with a still glowing ember from the bonfire, the purpose of which was to reignite their home cooking fires.  The hot, shining coal was carried home in a carved out turnip which eventually became the most renown Halloween decoration, the Jack-o’-lantern.

The naming of this carrying device as a Jack-o’-lantern also is rooted in Celtic, mixed with Christian, history.  According to folklore, an inebriated farmer named Jack played a trick on Satan.  Because of this action, Jack was turned away from both Heaven and Hell when he passed away.  Doomed to walk in darkness, Jack’s soul fashioned a lantern from a turnip and a clump of burning coal Satan tossed to him from Hell. From then on the carved-out, lit turnips were called Jack-o’-lanterns.

Around this same time in Celtic history a group of costumed Celts were celebrating Samhain by dancing around a gigantic bonfire carrying heavy staffs covered with burning hay torches. As seen by a Christian priest the dancers were backlit by the full moon and bonfire and appeared to be flying thru the air on broomsticks.  Hence, our tradition of witches on broomsticks on Halloween.

Part Two:  Halloween in the USA

When in 1846 the potato famine in Ireland sent boatloads of Irishmen immigrating to the United States.  The witches on broomsticks tale and the turnip Jack-o’-lanterns came with them.

After arriving in the United States, the Irish turned to the more plentiful pumpkins to carve their lanterns.  Not only were the pumpkins more numerous but they also were considerably easier to cut.  Nowadays the Jack-o’-lantern has become such a decorative item that contests are held for the best and most interestingly carved pumpkin. In the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI an exhibition is held during the fall with thousands of these painted, carved gourds lining the pathways.

Although Halloween had been quietly celebrated since the vast Irish migration into the United States, the first sanctioned municipal celebration was held in Anoka, Minn and occurred in 1921.  The 1920’s and 30’s found community secular Halloween masquerade parties and celebrations increasing.  Trick or Treating began in the 1950’s.

The great explosion in Halloween decorations only began, however, with the advent of plastics in the 1960’s. One of the most interesting of the new decorations involving lights (lamps?) is the development of the Glow (Glo) Stick.  Development of these was begun by the US military in 1962 which was looking for a compound with luminescent properties that would work in extreme temperatures.  The experimenting of many other scientists was required, however, to develop the Glow stick the is now so popular.

The Glow lamps’ uses for Halloween are many and varied.  They are portable, light weight, inexpensive, and provide cool illumination for costumes and decorations.  Parents appreciate the safety aspect of a Glow light decorating a costume or being placed in a Jack-o’-lantern instead of a burning candle.

Now, as our technology exponentially expands, holiday decorating is only limited to imagination and pocketbook.

Here are some more examples of wonderful artistic pumpkins with light!

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Glow Stick Magic

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In 1962, intrigued by the light flashes of the glowworm, and the need for a safe light source to be used in combat situations both Edwin Chandross, a Bell Lab chemist, and the U.S. Military at the China Lake Navel Weapons Center in California under Herbert Richter, a Naval scientist, began experiments to develop a chemiluminescent lamp.  This lamp produces illumination from a chemical reaction. The work of many other scientists including Michael Rauhut and some of his fellow co-workers at American Cyanamid in Stanford, Conn.  was required before today’s glow sticks were fully developed.

Various patents were granted by the US Government along the way including many of which went to the US Navy scientists.  The earliest patent in 1965 was given to Bernard Dubrow and Eugene Daniel Gath for inventing a packaged chemiluminescent material.  Finally, Richard Taylor Van Zandt was granted a patent for a Chemical Light Device in 1977.

Glow sticks are chemiluminescent lamps which means that they derive their light from the reaction of mixing different chemicals together. They are produced as see-thru plastic tubes in which chemicals are contained in isolation.  When the chemical compounds are agitated, they glow in various colors depending upon the chemicals that have been mixed together.  The components are usually combined by bending and, thereby, breaking a glass capsule of hydrogen peroxide that is contained within the other chemicals held in the plastic tubing.  After the capsule is broken, the tube is shaken to mix the different chemicals.

To discover which chemicals would produce the desired illumination, hydrogen peroxide was the first one tried by Edwin Chandros.  This compound releases a great amount of energy in a short period of time without burning, therefore producing a cool light.  Various different chemical combinations were experimented with in the development of glow sticks.  Hydrogen peroxide and peroxide remain the reactants of choice by the manufacturers to be mixed with a catalyst such as phenyl oxalate along with a florescent dye solution for color.

Although the chemicals stored in the glow stick are in themselves non-toxic, care must be taken in handling these devices because when the solutions interact the substance phenol is produced.  Phenol is both corrosive and toxic.  If a glow stick is ruptured, any bodily area which comes into contact with the internal chemicals should be well cleansed as irritation, allergic reaction, and vomiting may occur.

With the exceptions of the problem with the production of phenol in the chemical reactions, their only single time use, and the fact that they cannot be extinguished, the popular glow sticks have many positive attributes.  For the military they produce light to see, but no heat, so that they are safe in situations where explosives are employed.  They are also lightweight for easy transportation, can be operated in extreme climate conditions, are durable and require no batteries.  The lamps are not pressure sensitive so that they can provide light underwater and in the air.

Outdoor enthusiasts such as campers find glow flares an excellent and safe light source.  Night skiers stand out with glow devices decorating their ski suits.  Spelunkers, or cave explorers, face the danger of gasses accumulating in caves.  These lamps are perfect for illumination within caves because they will not ignite the gasses.  Bicycle riders are more noticeable at night with glow lights embellishing their vehicles.

These disposable, inexpensive lamps provide light anywhere, anytime.  Without heat, flame or sparks, they are permitted in large sport stadiums and concert venues.  Halloween becomes safer for children with Jack-o’-lanterns lit by glow lights instead of candles and costumes decorated with glowing materials.

Best of all, this is the one lamp that can safely go into any area devastated by man-made or natural disasters immediately after the event to help rescuers search for survivors.

Glow sticks are a wonderful way to do safe outdoor decoration lighting.  Give these pictures a look and see if they inspire you.  Have a great Halloween!

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Using Gobos For Your Easter Services

Spring will be here soon and with it, Easter season begins. Whether you are planning Easter Services or Passion Plays, you don’t have to have a large budget to make the most of your decorating needs! Imagine walking into your sanctuary on Palm Sunday to find palm fronds projected along the entrance walkway or stained glass windows and other Easter related images projected onto the normally blank walls. This is not only possible but is easy to do using a simple and inexpensive tool called a gobo.

 

A gobo is a metal or glass stencil that goes inside of a theatrical ellipsoidal light (Don’t know what that is? Just call us – we’ll help!). It blocks some light and lets other light through to allow you to project a specific image. They are an inexpensive and fast way of creating the scenery in your building.

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We’re gathering more amazing Easter design ideas on our Pinterest. Share your photos with us on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or good old-fashioned email (ha!).

If you want to project multiple colors then you need glass gobos, but if you want white or one color like purple (using a sheet of gel) then a metal gobo is perfectly appropriate. You can also make your own design for a custom gobo.

Purple Gels

For the ambitious looking to recreate Jesus’ tomb in your production or service, you can use Flexcoat and Foamcoat to create realistic textured surfaces, such as brick and stone.

FoamCoat and FlexCoat

Holidays and projected scenery are a perfect match! Take a moment to click here and look at a wonderful assortment of pre-made Easter Gobo Choices or design your own by clicking here.

If you need help with your gobos, getting the ellipsoidals to project the gobos, or just have some additional questions about how to transform your space, please call our advisors at (904) 683-5553 or simply email them at advisor@stagelightingstore.com. Send them some digital photos of your space and they will be happy to offer advice on how to “Easter up” your area!

 

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Light It Up Red

We did it in pink, we did it in blue! Now it’s time to light it up… you could say…from the heart.

Tallahassee Capitol -Credit R.Benk / WFSU-FM

Tallahassee Capitol – Credit R.Benk / WFSU-FM

Empire State Building lit up red - Courtesy of www.goredforwomen.org

Empire State Building lit up red – Courtesy of www.goredforwomen.org

The Heart Hospital Goes Red - Courtesy http://www.mshanews.org/news/article.aspx?id=1076

The Heart Hospital Goes Red – Courtesy http://www.mshanews.org/news/article.aspx?id=1076

Commemorate February’s Heart Disease Awareness Month and Go Red! Heart Disease doesn’t care if you are a man or a woman, nor your ethnicity. Visit the American Heart Association’s website for more information on early detection and prevention.There are a number of ways that you can turn your lights red to raise awareness of this important cause.

Go Red for Heart Awareness month

Gels work a lot like paint. Instead of picking out a red paint for your canvas, choose a red gel for your light to raise awareness.

 But there are so many different kinds of red! Pale Red, Terry Red, Sunset Red, and of course…Blood Red!

Luckily for you our SLS Advisor team has been hard at work solving your problem with a whole page dedicated to Heart Disease Awareness reds! And if you’re looking at lighting a building, you can even see our section on which gels work best for your type of light. Don’t have a whole building to light? Gel can be taped inside windows, which will shine red at night.

Looking for unique ways to light your space for a fundraiser? Feel free to call us for free advice on how we can help you today!

We want to hear from you! How are you supporting heart disease awareness?

Happy Thanksgivukkah

                                                                               menurkeyblue

We here at the Stage Lighting Store are very excited about the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which is known as the Festival of Lights. Second to our love of good lighting is our love of good food. So this year on November 28th, we’re in for a treat as Hanukkah and Thanksgiving combine into one glorious celebration.

This doesn’t happen very often, and when it will happen again is a bit debatable. The best source to understand how the Gregorian and Jewish calendars align, check out www.Chabad.org.

The Hanukkah menorah, called a Hanukiah, has nine branches; one for the eight nights plus the Shamash, Hebrew for helper or servant, which serves to light the other candles. One candle is lit each night at sundown. This year Thanksgiving will be the first full day of Hanukkah and the second night, so two candles will be lit at dinnertime.

Make the holiday fun by embracing both traditions! Here are a few ideas:

Both holidays embrace generosity and togetherness with loved ones. However you celebrate this year, we hope it’s filled with love and warmth.

Let us know how you are celebrating these two wonderful holidays!  Email us at louie@stagelightingstore.com.

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Holiday Theatricality for your House of Worship

A Christmas Tree is beautiful on it’s own.  A Christmas Tree with pretty ornaments on it looks even better.  A Christmas Tree with lights on it is MAGICAL!

Many say that Theatre developed out of religious rituals.  Certainly many spiritual moments have a theatrical moment to them.  When we come to the holiday season it is quite common that the services will a biblical story that will be enhanced with scenery, costumes and lighting.

Three Kings_BlogThose of you who have been fortunate enough to see the Radio City Music Christmas Spectacular would agree that their Manger scene is incredibly beautiful and moving.  The scene is rich in color and movement.  The story that is touching to many is brought to life as the Star of Bethlehem grows in size and brightness.  It creates a majestic warmth that envelopes the entire stage in it’s grandeur.  While your house of worship may not have the superior technical abilities of Radio City Music Hall, there are ways to add theatrical lighting into your building.

You may already have lighting units that are set to focus on particular areas of the stage with a dimming control system.  If so, this may be a time when you can make some adjustments to some lights that are rarely used (or you know are not being used for that service).

If you have no lighting system in place, think of this as an opportunity to enhance your holiday services with a theatrical lighting system that will also benefit your place of worship all year long.  It can be very helpful for you to have the ability to move the focus onstage from a podium to the choir to perhaps a side stage area.  Finally, there are portable systems that you can bring in to create special effects such as moonlight and stars a gentle fire.  These can have major impact with a minor budget.

If you need help in transforming your space, please feel free to reach out to us.  Take a couple of digital photos and email them to advisor@stagelightingstore.com and we can help you create a more magical environment.

We want to hear from you! What are you planning to light this holiday season?

louie_hancock

Happy Halloween from us at the Stage Lighting Store!

HAppy-HAlloween

We are in Halloween Eve and it is possible that you are in a situation that life has gotten busy and you have not had the chance to decorate for Halloween.  Perhaps you still want to be a little festive with the trick or treaters so here is just a really quick idea to make it special when they come to the door.

  1. Go get some glow sticks and put them in the bowl of your treats. Place your treats over them.
  2. Go get a flashlight.
  3. Have someone standing by the light switch for the porch.

Here is the scenario:

Your house looks normal.  The adorable trick or treaters come up to the door.  They knock and say trick or treat.  As your just about the open the door have your lighting technician flash the porch lights on and off and then have them be off.  Shine the flashlight on your face from the bottom and great them with a goolish look and statement.  Then offer them some candy from a glowing bowl while you say Mua ha ha ha.

Then turn the porch light back on and wish them a Happy Halloween!

Make adjustments as necessary but have fun with it!

Happy Halloween!

louie_hancock

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