The Use of Color in Theater and Film

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



In this paper, I propose a brief overview on the use of color in theatre and film and point to some references that I consider as seminal on this topic. How is color used in theatre and Film? How is it different and why? What is used on stage and on screen in terms of colors (props, costumes, make ups, sets, lights)? Are there any aesthetic rules and conventions, and how can they be questioned? I relate these rules and conventions to other color theories. In particular, what is the impact of certain colors in terms of meaning and in terms of emotions? I discuss the following questions: how do color choices participate in the aesthetic choices of a stage or screen director? Are these choices conscious or unconscious? How do color impact on the viewer? Is it cultural or universal? I share some of my experience as a stage and screen director in terms of using colors. Finally, I explain how I articulate my own artistic practice with theory, and how my status as an artist-researcher allows me to do so.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article presented at the International Colour Association (AIC) conference in 2013. This article may not exactly replicate the final published version. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at


International Colour Association (AIC)