Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)


A Bloody Electrician with Notions: Jean Rosenthal, the Mother of Lighting Design

Publication Date

Spring 4-2021


Visual and Performing Arts, College of


Theatre and Dance, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. James Al-Shamma

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Prior to the 1930s, theatrical lighting design was delegated to the set designer. Jean Rosenthal overcame sexism and antisemitism to redefine and elevate the role of the lighting designer. She created many techniques and practices that are standard for today’s designers and electricians. Her use of boom lighting, colored gels, paperwork, and other techniques changed the way the stories of the stage were brought to life. When Rosenthal began her journey, lighting was seen as a necessary evil, but today it is seen as a necessity.

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