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The World of the Stage
The ancient world, Shakespeare and Beyond
What is a Stage?
What can you come up with?
Take a few minutes in groups and generate some
A raised platform on which theatrical performances are
An area in which actors perform
Any performance space that is enabled or manipulated for
performers to engage with an audience
Therefore any space that is set up or manipulated for
performance can be a stage!
What types of stages are there?
The Proscenium Stage: A stage where the audience sits on
one side only. This is also called end-on staging. The
audience faces one side of the stage directly, and normally
sits at a lower height.
In-the-Round Stage
An in-the-round stage is positioned at the centre of the
audience – i:e there is audience around the whole stage. This
type of stage creates quite an intimate atmosphere, and is
good for drama that needs audience involvement.
The Traverse Stage
A stage where the audience sits on two sides is called a
traverse stage. Again, this type of stage is good for creating
an intimate atmosphere.
Thrust Stage or Open Stage
Thrust staging gives a good all-round and closer view of the
action, however this better view also comes at a cost - large
scenic elements can only be placed at the rear of the stage.
In the 1960s and 70s new thrust theatre buildings started to
incorporate a shallow proscenium style recess in the back
wall. This enabled designers to include scenic effects such as
large scale flying and larger structures in designs.
Shakespeare’s stage – the Thrust Stage
Parts of the stage
Playwrights, actors and directors have particular terminology
to denote the parts of a stage.
Stage areas are named so that people can easily say where
an actor needs to be. The areas of the stage are always
related to the actor, so 'stage left' (SL) would be on the actor's
left when facing the audience. The director watching from the
audience, would see stage left on his or her right.
Common abbreviations for stage
USR - Upstage Right USC - Upstage Centre USL - Upstage Left
CR- Centre Right
DSR-Downstage Right DSC-Downstage Centre DSL - Downstage
CS - Centre Stage
CL - Centre Left
Stage areas diagram
All the world’s a Stage!
While we have seen that there are specific layouts and
structures of stages that have been developed throughout the
years, a stage does not have to be in a building called a
Before there were built structures set aside for theatre there
was drama and there were stages….
In indigenous societies sacred
spaces became stages for
religious rituals
Any space that was deemed sacred or was endowed with
meaning by the community could be the site of the enacted
of dramas that held religious significance.
Some examples of such societies were: The Greeks, the
Romans, the Egyptians the Yoruba and the Japanese. All of
these societies were the forerunners of what we know as
Modern drama.
The Power of the Stage
Let’s listen to the Prologue from Shakespeare’s Henry V about
the imaginative power of the stage
Your thoughts…
What was the Chorus saying about the stage in this play?
Of what relevance is that to your understanding of the power
of the stage?
Conclusion: Make a stage!
There are a variety of stage types that have been used over
the years in theatrical productions
The type of stage is dependant on the type of production and
the nature of the relationship between the actors and the
You can create a stage using any space that is suited for the
needs of your production.
What separates a ‘space’ from a’ stage’ is how you treat it and
the power of performance with which you endow it.