Poor Lighting

Being able to deal with less than idea conditions has been massively helpful to me over the years, particularly in the past few weeks on tour where there is little time to spend worry about lights after the get in and prop setting has been done.

Poor lighting affects almost all circus disciplines but none more so than juggling.

Here are a few training methods (some more useful than others) to help you train for poor lighting:

Practice in sunglasses
Practice directly under a bright light
Set up a bright lamp to shine in your eyes
Practice in low level lighting
Practice outdoors on a sunny day
Run your routine with someone switching on and off the lights
Practice with one eye shut (I’ve had to do a routine immediately after being accidentally poked in the eye!).
Practice with both eyes shut (are there tricks you can do blind, if so can you take advantage of this on stage?!)

Any suggestions? I’d love to hear how you train for poor lighting, leave a comment!

4 thoughts on “Poor Lighting”

  1. A few years ago I was doing a benefit show for a local guide dog foundation. The show took place at a highschool, and I showed up early to have plenty of time to check my lights and adapt to the low ceiling. Unfortunately the stage was set up in a room where there was daylight coming in through the windows- when I checked my lights it was daytime, so by showtime at night there was no more external light and I realized (after dropping my first trick in my act) just how bad my lighting situation was. I struggled through the worst act of my life, but learned a great lesson- check the lights as close to how they’ll be during the show as possible (no worklights or houselights etc), and if it’s that bad onstage I think I would have been better of improvising an act rather than trying to do everything blind.
    If possible get a couple of lights shining up from the floor behind you so you can see your props in the air, that’s the best!
    Thanks for the article,

  2. I’d always wished I had my fluorescent yellow silicone juggling balls earlier. Something like that can help with a dark or white background. My biggest fear on some high school gymnasium stages was that I would walk right off the front.

    If you’re going to be juggling on a stage with stage lighting, get there early. Find the spot on the floor where you can do any high toss tricks and not lose an object in a light. Find out if there’s a spotlight and see if you need to have it killed. If there are different lighting schemes, determine which one works best and have the same one used for your act. If you’re early enough, you might even be able to get a light adjusted (back light on the objects can make all the difference).

    If you’re juggling outdoors, figure out where the sun is going to be when you will be on stage and adjust accordingly. Luckily, it will probably be raining and you’ll not need to worry about this. (Never work outdoors unless you’re getting paid big money. Ha!)

    I loved my white handled torches. They could “handle” any bad lighting situation. It wouldn’t be bad to have something like that, and some of those light-up balls, for those really blind situations.

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