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How to Make Pictures & Words With White Gloves Under Black Lighting

White gloves are the main ingredient for a black light presentation.
medical gloves image by sasha from Fotolia.com

Gaining popularity in recent years, black light theatre, or the utilization of UV lighting to create shapes with white gloves, is easy and fun to learn. Often paired with music, black light presentations utilize one or multiple pairs of white-gloved hands to form occasional shapes through hand and finger placement. The shapes created can range from religious symbols and animals to the letters of words or names. With ample rehearsal time, and a little bit of creativity, practically anyone can stage a black light theatre show.

White gloves are the main ingredient for a black light presentation.
medical gloves image by sasha from Fotolia.com

Things You'll Need:

  • Black Clothing And Attire
  • Cd And Player (Optional)
  • Fluorescent Black Light Fixture
  • White Cotton Gloves
  • Full-Length Mirror

Position each actor on the stage or performance area, and ensure that no skin is showing between each person’s black garments.

Designate an area at the back of the room, and secure the full-length mirror in an upright position. Make sure each actor can see himself or herself in the mirror. Place the fluorescent black light on the floor 3 feet in front of your performers, and plug in the light.

Turn off all lights in the room once the black light is on. Have each performer put on gloves, and notice the glow created by each visible hand in the mirror. Practice forming basic shapes, such as a circle, triangle and square, using gloved hands. If you have a group of five or more actors, this can be as simple as having all performers hold their palms flat with all five fingers parallel; solo or partner performers may need to utilize fingers to complete the shape. Have your group practice creating basic three-letter words such as “sun,” “cat” and “run” while keeping sufficient space between each letter. (Remember that letters will appear backwards in the mirror.)

Test the amount of letters your actors can collaboratively create: attempt four-, five- and six-letter words while making sure the words remain legible in the mirror. Practice having performers hide their hands behind their back, creating a “blackout” effect between scenes. Decide on a series of three words, and practice transitioning smoothly between each hand placement.

Begin attempting basic scenes, such as a flock of birds (easily done by joining two hands at the thumbs and gently waving the fingers), a house, a man, a cross, a sun or any other symbolic or storytelling images you wish to incorporate into your show.

Decide on a basic series of pictures and words you wish to coordinate, and, if you intend to perform to music, designate at which areas of the song certain “scenes” should happen. Get creative with your planning, and rehearse until each performer is comfortable with the routine.


Depending on the size of the cast, more than one black light fixture may be required to fully illuminate each pair of hands. Test the lighting, and ensure that there is sufficient illumination for your audience to see the show.

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