Rudy Roggenkamp Gives Faculty Lecture

October 28, 2015

ALLIANCE, Ohio- Mr. Rudy Roggenkamp demonstrated how the use of color can enhance musical theatre in his presentation at the faculty lecture last Thursday in the Gallaher Theatre of the Giese Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mount Union.

Roggenkamp, a theatre professor at Mount Union, began the lecture by presenting the audience with different images and pictures that highlight different illusions of color. These illusions focused on how color, shadows and pictures can change based on our perceptions and expectations of the image.

“The brain continuously tries to make sense of what we see within the context of what we think we should see,” Roggenkamp said. “The colors are not changing; our perceptions of the colors are what are changing.”

Not only can our expected perceptions affect how we can see color but the lighting in which we view color can have an effect as well. Roggenkamp explained that all different types of lighting show different colors and that we typically view color through incandescent light.

The firing of rod and cone receptors in our eyes also determines what color we see. The brain then takes that information and processes it into a specific color.  The brain also uses additive and subtractive color in order to come up with the color of an image.

“It is not our eyes that are seeing but our brains that are seeing,” Roggenkamp said. “The brain recomposes the light into the sensation of the color what we see.”

All of these variables provide unique ways to manipulate color on stage in a theatrical production.

“In theatre we have the unique opportunity to affect the audience’s viewpoints of color,” Roggenkamp said.                                

Some ways that Roggenkamp mentioned color can be manipulated for an audience include using filters over different light, playing with the contrast of different light colors and adding different magnitudes of lighting. In some productions, visibility is created by lighting one side of the body with warm light and lighting the other side with cool light. Roggenkamp also demonstrated how mixing and combining red, green and blue spotlights can create different colors for the audience.

“The goal is to provide visibility so that the audience can see what we are seeing,” Roggenkamp said.

The last piece of the puzzle that ties lighting together on stage is the collaboration between lighting designer, costume designer, scenic designer and director. This makes sure that colors will not clash on stage, costumes will not get lost and lighting is appropriate for the scenes. 

“We all work together to try to make the colors work best,” Roggenkamp said.

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