Living in the Limelight
Many things go into making our shows in order to create what we feel is a truly unique and fun thing to do in the Milwaukee area. Script. Research. Some poetry. Custom surround sound. Videos. And lighting. Lighting. In our intimate performance space and art studio we have packed in over 30 lighting instruments. Around 20 are color-changing LED theatrical lights. Several of those are robotic moving lights.
And for our show "LUMINESCENCE," which explores the relationship and history of LIGHT and ART, we are adding one more lighting instrument: a limelight. What is a limelight? We've heard the term in regard to varying degrees of fame. "Your time in the limelight." Well, it's just that. A stage light. Back when theater began moving indoors and before electric lights were feasible, GAS lights were common. When set just right, and reflected and focused, gas makes a decently bright light.
But then limelight was invented.
There is no reason for me to re-type a Wikipedia entry. If interested in the details, just check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limelight Using gas flame to heat quicklime produced a much brighter light. These lights were used for the "stars" on stage. Those reciting monologues. Those driving the story. Those characters lived in the limelight.
We made ours with a bit of limestone tile. Burnt long enough, it becomes "quicklime" which glows bright when heated. The "real REAL REAL" limelights would use oxygen and hydrogen gas. For our demo we use safer, easier, less messy propane. So it doesn't produce as HOT of a flame, and therefore the quicklime doesn't glow AS bright as it could. But it is still a fun demonstration of a limelight. The lens is from a vintage Colortran spotlight. We still use one of those for a few demonstration purposes as well. The reflector? A copper bowl. The quicklime? Limestone tile fired until it becomes chalky quicklime. Here's a quick video demo.