The Dramaturgy of Light

This is a selection of books and academic articles that are concerned with the ways in which light operates in performance. We have included links to each of the sources, although, regrettably, not all of the articles are open access.


Scott Palmer, Light: Readings in Theatre Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 2013.

This book explores the potential of light as a creative medium in performance, tracing its role throughout Eurpoean theatre history and exploring the impact of light on audiences, actors, and performances.

Nick Moran, The Right Light: Interviews with Contemporary Lighting Designers. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 2016.

In this book, Moran draws together a series of interviews with contemporary British lighting designers, and through combinging their views creates a really rich account of the role of light in performance.

Christopher Baugh, Theatre, Performance and Technology: The Development and Transformation of Scenography. 2nd Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 2013.

This is an excellent resource in thinking about performance scenography in general, and contains some really interesting chapters that discuss light specifically. Baugh combines reflections on the historical development of lighting and stage design practices, with his sensibilities as a designer to analyse the impact of design on the development of performance.

Aronold Aronson, Looking into the Abyss: Essays on Scenography. Ann Arbor: Univeristy of Michigan Press. 2005.

This book contains a selection of essays about various aspects of scenography, all of which are intersting to consider in terms of light. There is one in particular that specifically addresses light: ‘One Hundred Years of Stage Lighting – Why we cannot light as Appia did’.

Yaron Abulafia, The Art of Light on Stage: Lighting in Contemporary Theatre. London: Routledge. 2016.

Drawing on his own experience as a lighting designer, Abulafia examines the poetics of light and uses semiotic analysis to decode images made by light in a series of contemporary performances.


Dempster, E. 2003. Touching Light. Performance Research. 8(4), pp. 46-51.

This article provides a fascinating view of light in dance. Dempster discusses watching dance in terms of the bodily, kinaesthetic experience it engenders. Within this discussion, Dempster positions light in terms of touch, arguing that seeing and touch are intertwined, and that these processes meet in dance lighting.

Aragay, M. and Escoda, C. 2012. Postdramatism, Ethics, and the Role of Light in Martin Crimp’s Fewer Emergencies (2005). New Theatre Quarterly. 28(02), pp.133-142.

This article considers the light in a single production, considering how it works in tandem with Crimp’s text. Interestingly, the authors focus their discussion on how the light operates within a postdramatic dramaturgy rather than specifically in terms of lighting practice, nevertheless the article makes some strong points about the importance of light in performacne dramaturgy.