A HIGH standard of excellence has been reached in theatre lighting throughout the world, but German progress in this field has been equal to Teutonic proficiency in other phases of theatre construction. It is now possible by the aid of large tubular incandescent lamps imported from Europe to illuminate effectively a theatre auditorium by reflected light in such a manner that the source of illumination is un-noticeable. These tubes are made several inches in diameter so as to avoid overheating, and are about twelve inches in length, with half their interior diameter silvered on the inside to serve as reflectors.
This inside silvering prevents any accumulation of dust on the reflector surface, and if these lights are installed closely together behind the lower cornice of a well rounded ceiling cove, the lights diffuse a continuous soft, warm glow, entirely free from the spotty effects produced by common incandescent bulbs. To the ordinary observer the source of light is completely hidden, for nothing is visible but a continuously illuminated cove that might be mistaken for brilliant decoration. With a regulation "dimmer" apparatus these self-reflecting tubes give any desired degree of illumination.
There is no good reason why this same concealed lighting effect should not be carried out in all the public departments of the theatre, thereby lessening the cost of fixtures. Exposed fixtures, even the so-called indirect sort, are an unsightly nuisance and they gather dust, which gives off an offensive odor when heated. Reflected light introduces no shadows and presents a far more artistic and restful effect than glaring lights of any kind.
The space underneath the balcony could be illuminated by reflected light through flush, translucent glass panels, thus avoiding exposed fixtures. The Rialto Theatre in New York, a palatial picture house recently opened, has a similar effect arranged in a most pleasing manner. The lights are automatically changed at timed intervals from pale blue to soft rose and vice versa. This automatic change of light easily may be introduced throughout the auditorium by the installation of parallel rows of differently colored tubes.
Another useful innovation that might be employed in motion picture theatres is the installation of tiny red or green bulbs, mortised in the top of the chair backs, which are lighted by the tipping of the empty seat and thereby indicate to the ushers vacant chairs.
There are so many modes of exterior lighting and so many new devices constantly being introduced that one hesitates to recommend any particular kind. Here, too, the writer, a confirmed antagonist to glaring lights, would suggest some form of indirect lighting. This should be either by simple reflection or by brilliant reflection through colored, translucent or cathedral glass, for even the outline of lighted bulbs showing through the glass is inartistic. A brightly illu-minated window extending the entire height between pilasters situated on either side of the entrance, and lighted by reflected light through colored glass, would be an effective beacon for a picture theatre.