The Browning Center for the Performing Arts has just installed a fully LED stage lighting system to enhance productions at the Eccles Theater and save an estimated 400,00 wattage hours.
Austin Hull, manager of technical operations at the Browning Center, commented on the power usage of the “lamps” or lightbulbs in a typical stage light. “The average lamp used in a light is 575 watts. A typical light in a household uses 60 watts. As you can tell, that’s a lot of power,” he said.
The initial cost for the LED lighting system was around $120,000 for 140 lights and lighting fixtures, saving considerable sums of money in the long run.
Jessica Greenberg, assistant professor of theatre design, mentioned that this increase of inventory will give students more ability for design. “It’s a wonderful resource for our theaters and our students,” she said.
The new system will not only increase the number of lights but allow stage technicians to manipulate the color. “It gives our students the opportunity to get their hands on state of the art equipment that they will be experiencing in professional shows,” said Greenberg.
Cubby Morris, a junior studying theatre design, expressed his jealousy of the first students in the theatre program to use them. He explained the significance of having one light with two or more colors rather than having an individual light for each color, adding that the new system makes the team more versatile.
The power usage of the newly-installed LED lights is about 150 watts, just over twice the wattage of a typical home fixture bulb, bringing the power usage down by about three-quarters. “They will also create less heat in their use, which will then reduce costs for heating and air-conditioning,” said Greenberg.
The Browning Center was also able to add a set of LED lights to the scenic backdrop in theatre called the Cyclorama. “This give us the opportunity to create a very colorful backdrop,” said Greenberg. “I don’t anticipate us doing a full inventory in that space, but we are happy to explore what we can do in the Eccles.”
The lighting is not the only thing being innovated in the Department of Performing Arts. This year, the Theatre Department is venturing a new program called Innovation Theatre. The students in the lighting design class will each have the opportunity to use these new lights for the first time in a department show.
Innovation Theatre includes three different productions developed by student directors with multiple designers for each show in the lighting area. “Each of those students will be able to design for them,” said Morris. The Innovation Theatre Production will run from April 7–22, excluding Sunday and Monday.