Open Forum

Fluorescent lighting/staging

  • 1.  Fluorescent lighting/staging

    Posted 08-16-2017 18:00
    We are performing "Radium Girls" this fall and I would like to have multiple large watch faces in the background that would appear fluorescent. Some of the characters also need to appear that they have fluorescent [radium] powder sticking to their clothing. I know that some paint colors paired with specific gels glow as though fluorescent and I know that I can purchase fluorescent paints and rent black lights. Any suggestions for how to best pull this off at least expense?

    Stan Gibbs
    Parma Western High School (MI)

  • 2.  RE: Fluorescent lighting/staging

    Posted 08-16-2017 21:40
    Rosco actually has a gel which mimics black light.

    They also have some extremely good fluorescent and UV paint. It seems incredibly expensive but, as the old saying goes, a little goes a long, long way.

    We have done multiple shows using black light and so we bought a couple of UV projectors from American DJ. Our local A/V store also rents really powerful units so you could check locally if someone does that.

    Another trick - wash all of the costumes in powdered Tide detergent. It glows under UV light! (So does Rosco stage snow!)

    Bill Jacobsen
    Drama Teacher / Curriculum Coordinator

  • 3.  RE: Fluorescent lighting/staging

    Posted 08-17-2017 00:45
    I designed lighting for "These Shining Lives" which is similar in content and design needs.  We did it in the round, and needed to make actors hands glow, and some prop jars glow on stage.  Due to the close nature of audience members we did not use black lights overstage, as it would also light up the audience members clothing.

    The makeup designer used phosphorescing makeup, and the makeup was "charged" backstage using small black lights.  The lead actor's hand were revealed in a blackout, with a move into a dark blue wash so that we could see their faces.  Additional characters' hands were not lit, but the actors were lit with small specials, from the chest up.  (See Thiessen_1 and Thiessen_2.  The one in dark blue makes the makeup appear stronger than it actually was once the blue came in).

    The props designer used phosphorescent/fluorescent paint for the paint jars, with a black light built into the work desks, out of sight, that remained on.  (See Thiessen_3)

    Fluorescent blacklights are an option, but they do need to be on or off, without dimming, which can look odd depending on your cuing.  Watch out for teeth glowing (it may not be an issue depending on distance), and clothing glowing.  In general, limit other light use.

    Using a gel is highly dependent on your fixtures.  Most incandescent fixtures though, do not put enough UV light through to make any paint or makeup glow.  I researched this as an option, but it did not work for me.

    Experimental Photos:
    -Thiessen_4 has the regular room fluorescents on, so you can see what the makeup looked like generally in white light, though this isn't an incandescent.

    -Thiessen_5 is a mini blacklight with the different glow in the dark materials, fluorescing

    -Thiessen_6 is the glow in the dark makeup under Rosco 384, Midnight Blue

    -Thiessen_7 is the glow in the dark makeup under Rosco 382, Congo Blue vs. black light charged materials.
    I used a DSLR, adjusting exposure, color temperature, and time to take photos that were as close to what it actually looked like as possible, as I was going to use this to show the other designers and director.

    Sydney Thiessen
    Fine & Performing Arts Coordinator and Technical Director
    Reynolds High School
    Troutdale OR

  • 4.  RE: Fluorescent lighting/staging

    Posted 08-17-2017 08:43
    An idea for the clock faces - nothing seemed to glow brightly enough to satisfy my vision, so I bought a slew of glow tape, which we cut up for the clock faces. $65 bucks, and after removing it carefully during strike, now I have a slew of glow tape to reuse for future productions.

    Jenner Veitch
    Theatre Teacher

    San Diego CA

  • 5.  RE: Fluorescent lighting/staging

    Posted 08-17-2017 13:37
    In terms of the watch faces, I would think that an ellipsoidal carefully focused would yield the effect needed, especially if the instrument is mounted in such a way as to not be visible from the audience.  Additionally, if muslin is sized with Argo Laundry starch, it will appear slightly transparent by maintain it's opaque off white feel and can be effectively lit from behind and or used as a projections surface to great effect.  Just have experiment a bit,

    In terms of the make up, this is not my strongest area, but there are numerous glow in the dark SFX make ups out there.

    Michael Johnson
    Trinity NC

  • 6.  RE: Fluorescent lighting/staging

    Posted 08-17-2017 15:36
    I am directing this show as well!  We do not have the details fleshed out at this point but if you'd like to keep in touch we might be able to brainstorm and share ideas.  My email is

    Gordon Hensley
    Professor & Theatre Education Program Director
    Boone NC