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I’m going to KILL that Actor!!! [or, “Find Your Light, Please”]

December 7, 2011

So, it recently occurred to me while running spot light on a run of a show that actors probably have no idea what goes on during headset conversations. Now it’s mostly mundane standbys and “GO”s, with the occasional chit-chat of food, passing out the URL for the latest viral video, or geekily talking about new toys the industry manufacturers are going to give us [note: I still think nothing’s going to beat “glo-gaff” in the near future; but LED pars you can control with your phone come close…]. Occasionally the actors come up.  I’ve never experienced where it’s been said  “s/he can’t act” or “s/he’s terrible” nothing ever so unprofessional as that, we keep any judgements rightfully to ourselves. But, the most common “complaint” is “ACTOR’S NOT IN HIS/HER LIGHT AGAIN, DAMN IT!!!!” It’s a note that once given, seems to reoccur almost every night.  My theory is not that the actor purposely ignores the note from Stage Management, but that many actors don’t know how to properly “find” their light.  I will attempt to remedy this issue for all you loyal readers.

Now, it will be difficult for me to explain finding your light when you’re not on a stage, but I’ll do my best. The whole issue can be avoided during Tech.  When an actor is in a tight special [for those not fluent in TechSpeak: when a beam of light is revealing only a very small portion of the stage], typically Stage Management will say “This is your Light” during Tech.  Instead of disregarding the statement, take a moment.  Step out of your light to test if you can really feel the difference between being “in” and “out” of your light.  Walk through your blocking immediately prior to that, and if you are even slightly unsure, ask your ASM for a spike mark.  Let them know if you prefer an “X” or toe lines.  Also specify if you anticipate needing glow tape to accurately find your mark.

If you are already past Tech and are receiving the note [and are/were too shy to ask for spikes], you may need to feel your light.


  • If you are not blinded beyond comprehension, you are probably NOT in your light. [try stepping downstage or upstage]
  • If you look down and your left hand is blue/dark and your right hand is bright, you are probably NOT in your light. [try stepping to your right]
  • If the ending button of a musical number is a down pool [TechSpeak for when a clear circle outlines on the stage], and you are not in the center of the circle, you are probably NOT in your light. [adjust appropriately, ONLY IF you can without the audience noticing]
  • If you change your blocking and are now crossing upstage of the couch instead of downstage, you are probably NOT in your light. [go back to your original blocking and your light will be right where you left it]
  • If you feel the warmth of the light from your nose down, you probably ARE in your light, but you’re wearing your hat too far down on your head [note: your Costume Designer has probably given you this note]

I hope these tidbits can help you find your light, I’ve seen too many beautiful moments sacrificed because an actor is unable to hit their mark.  Take note!  We’re trying to make you look good!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2011 11:05 am

    Very useful info, thank you!

  2. Noah Hill permalink
    July 13, 2017 11:10 am

    Totally Rad Dude!!!
    Thanks so much for these pointers I’m teaching a class to a youth performance summer camp about how to stay in their light light and this was perfect. Thanks again!!!!

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