Stage (theatre)
Overview
 
In theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 or performance art
Performance art
In art, performance art is a performance presented to an audience, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or...

s, the stage (sometimes referred to as the deck in stagecraft
Stagecraft
Stagecraft is a generic term referring to the technical aspects of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes, but is not limited to, constructing and rigging scenery, hanging and focusing of lighting, design and procurement of costumes, makeup, procurement of props, stage management, and...

) is a designated space for the performance
Performance
A performance, in performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers behave in a particular way for another group of people, the audience. Choral music and ballet are examples. Usually the performers participate in rehearsals beforehand. Afterwards audience...

 productions. The stage serves as a space for actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

s or performers and a focal point (the screen
Screen
- Separation or partitioning :* Window screen, a wire mesh that covers a window opening* Fire screen, a device to put in front of a fireplace* Windbreak of trees or shrubs* Windshield , protects the driver of a vehicle...

 in cinema theaters) for the members of the audience
Audience
An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature , theatre, music or academics in any medium...

. As an architectural feature, the stage may consist of a platform (often raised) or series of platforms. In some cases, these may be temporary or adjustable but in theaters
Theater (structure)
A theater or theatre is a structure where theatrical works or plays are performed or other performances such as musical concerts may be produced. While a theater is not required for performance , a theater serves to define the performance and audience spaces...

 and other buildings devoted to such productions, the stage is often a permanent feature.

There are several types of stages that vary as to the usage and the relation of the audience to them.
Encyclopedia
In theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 or performance art
Performance art
In art, performance art is a performance presented to an audience, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or...

s, the stage (sometimes referred to as the deck in stagecraft
Stagecraft
Stagecraft is a generic term referring to the technical aspects of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes, but is not limited to, constructing and rigging scenery, hanging and focusing of lighting, design and procurement of costumes, makeup, procurement of props, stage management, and...

) is a designated space for the performance
Performance
A performance, in performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers behave in a particular way for another group of people, the audience. Choral music and ballet are examples. Usually the performers participate in rehearsals beforehand. Afterwards audience...

 productions. The stage serves as a space for actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

s or performers and a focal point (the screen
Screen
- Separation or partitioning :* Window screen, a wire mesh that covers a window opening* Fire screen, a device to put in front of a fireplace* Windbreak of trees or shrubs* Windshield , protects the driver of a vehicle...

 in cinema theaters) for the members of the audience
Audience
An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature , theatre, music or academics in any medium...

. As an architectural feature, the stage may consist of a platform (often raised) or series of platforms. In some cases, these may be temporary or adjustable but in theaters
Theater (structure)
A theater or theatre is a structure where theatrical works or plays are performed or other performances such as musical concerts may be produced. While a theater is not required for performance , a theater serves to define the performance and audience spaces...

 and other buildings devoted to such productions, the stage is often a permanent feature.

There are several types of stages that vary as to the usage and the relation of the audience to them. The most common form found in the West is the proscenium
Proscenium
A proscenium theatre is a theatre space whose primary feature is a large frame or arch , which is located at or near the front of the stage...

 stage. In this type, the audience is located on one side of the stage with the remaining sides hidden and used by the performers and technicians. Thrust stage
Thrust stage
In theatre, a thrust stage is one that extends into the audience on three sides and is connected to the backstage area by its up stage end. A thrust has the benefit of greater intimacy between performers and the audience than a proscenium, while retaining the utility of a backstage area...

s may be similar to proscenium stages but with a platform or performance area that extends into the audience space so that the audience is located on three sides. In theatre in the round
Theatre in the round
Theatre-in-the-round or arena theatre is any theatre space in which the audience surrounds the stage area...

, the audience is located on all four sides of the stage. The fourth type of stage incorporates created and found stages which may be constructed specifically for a performance or may involve a space that is adapted as a stage.

Proscenium stage

Since the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

, the most common stage used in the West has been the proscenium stage which may also be referred to as a picture frame stage. The primary feature is a large opening known as the proscenium arch
Proscenium
A proscenium theatre is a theatre space whose primary feature is a large frame or arch , which is located at or near the front of the stage...

 through which the audience views the performance. The audience directly faces the stage—which is typically raised several feet above front row audience level—and views only one side of the scene. This one side is commonly known as the invisible fourth wall
Fourth wall
The fourth wall is the imaginary "wall" at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box set in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play...

of the scene. The proscenium arch evolved from the proskenium in Ancient Greek theaters. This was the space in front of the skênê or backdrop where the actors actually played.

The first indoor theatres were created in French tennis courts and Italian Renaissance palaces where the newly-embraced principles of perspective allowed designers to create stunning vistas with buildings and trees decreasing in size toward a "vanishing point" on the horizon. Stage floors were raked upward slightly from front to back in order to contribute to the perspective illusion and also to make actors more visible to audiences, who were seated on level floors. Subsequently, audience seating was raked, and balconies were added to give audiences a fuller view. By the end of the 19th century most stages had level floors, and much of the audience looked down on, rather than up to, the stage.

The competition among royals to produce elegant and elaborate entertainments fueled and financed the expansion of European court theatres. The proscenium—which often was extremely decorative in the manner of a triumphal arch—"framed" the prospective picture. The desire of court painters to show more than one of their perspective backgrounds led court architects to adapt the pin-rails and pulleys of sailing ships to the unrolling, and later to the lowering and raising, of canvas backdrops. A wood (and later steel) grid above the stage supported pulleys from which wooden battens, and later steel pipes, rolled down, or descended, with attached scenery pieces. The weight of heavy pieces was counterbalanced by sandbags. This system required the creation of a storage stage house or loft that was usually as high or higher than the proscenium itself. A "full-fly" stage could store the entire height of scenery above the visible stage using the pin-rails before or during performance, whereas a "half-fly" stage (common in smaller locations) could only store props of limited size and thus required more careful backdrop and scenery design. Theatres using these rope systems, which are manually operated by stage hands, are known as hemp houses. They have been largely supplanted by counterweight fly system
Fly system
A fly system, flying system or theatrical rigging system, is a system of lines , blocks , counterweights and related devices within a theatre that enable a stage crew to quickly, quietly and safely fly components such as curtains, lights, scenery, stage effects and, sometimes, people...

s.

The proscenium, in conjunction with stage curtains called legs, conceals the sides of the stage, which are known as the wings. The wings may be used by theatre personnel during performances and as storage spaces for scenery and theatrical properties. Several rows of short curtains across the top of the stage, called teasers, hide the backdrops, which in turn are hidden above the stage in the fly system loft until ready for use.

Often, a stage may extend in front of the proscenium arch which offers additional playing area to the actors. This area is a referred to as the apron
Apron stage
The apron is any part of the stage that extends past the proscenium arch and into the audience or seating area. The Elizabethan stage, which was a raised platform with the audience on three sides, is the outstanding example....

. Underneath and in front of the apron is sometimes an orchestra pit
Orchestra pit
An orchestra pit is the area in a theater in which musicians perform. Orchestral pits are utilized in forms of theatre that require music or in cases when incidental music is required...

 which is used by musicians during musicals
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 and opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

s. The orchestra pit may sometimes be covered and used as an additional playing space in order to bring the actors closer to the audience. The stage is often raised higher than the audience. Space above some proscenium stages may include a flyloft where curtain
Curtain
A curtain is a piece of cloth intended to block or obscure light, or drafts, or water in the case of a shower curtain. Curtains hung over a doorway are known as portières...

s, scenery, and battens supporting a variety of lighting instruments may hang.

The numerous advantages of the proscenium stage have led to its popularity in the West. Many theatrical properties and scenery may be utilized. Backdrops, curtains and lighting can be used to greater effect without risk of rigging being visible to the audience. Entrances and exits can be made more graceful; surprise becomes possible. The actors only have to concentrate on playing to the audience in one direction.

Boxes are a feature of more modern stage designs in which temporary walls are built inside any proscenium stage, at a slight angle to the original walls, in order to allow audience members located to the left or right of the proscenium (the further out, the larger the angle) to see the entirety of the stage. They enable the creation of rat runs around the back of the stage, which allow cast members to walk between entrances and exits without being seen by the audience.

Theatre in the round

This method of stage design consists of a stage situated in the centre of the theatre, with the audience facing it from all sides. The audience is placed quite close to the action which provokes a feeling of intimacy and involvement.

In-the-round stages require special considerations in production such as:
  • Scenery that does not obscure actors and the rest of the stage from parts of the audience.
  • Backdrops and curtains cannot be used, thus the director must find other ways to set the scene.
  • Lighting design is more difficult than for a Proscenium stage, since the actor must be lit from all sides without blinding nearby audience members.
  • Entrances and exits must be made either through the audience, making surprise entrances very difficult, or via closed-off walkways, which must be inconspicuous. As a result, stage entrances are normally in the corners of the theatre.
  • The actor
    Actor
    An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

    s need to ensure that they do not have their backs turned to any part of the audience for long periods of time, in order to be seen and heard clearly.

Thrust stage

A thrust stage is one that extends into the audience on three sides and is connected to the backstage area by its up stage end. A thrust has the benefit of greater intimacy between the audience and performers than a proscenium
Proscenium
A proscenium theatre is a theatre space whose primary feature is a large frame or arch , which is located at or near the front of the stage...

, while retaining the utility of a backstage area. Entrances onto a thrust are most readily made from backstage, although some theatres provide for performers to enter through the audience using vomitory
Vomitorium
A vomitorium is a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre, through which big crowds can exit rapidly at the end of a performance...

 entrances. An arena
Theatre in the round
Theatre-in-the-round or arena theatre is any theatre space in which the audience surrounds the stage area...

, exposed on all sides to the audience, is without a backstage and relies entirely on entrances in the house or from under the stage.

As with an arena, the audience in a thrust stage theatre may view the stage from three or more sides. If a performance employs the fourth wall
Fourth wall
The fourth wall is the imaginary "wall" at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box set in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play...

, that imaginary wall must be maintained on multiple sides. Because the audience can view the performance from a variety of perspectives, it is usual for the blocking
Blocking (stage)
Blocking is a theatre term which refers to the precise movement and positioning of actors on a stage in order to facilitate the performance of a play, ballet, film or opera. The term derives from the practice of 19th century theatre directors such as Sir W. S...

, prop
Theatrical property
A theatrical property, commonly referred to as a prop, is an object used on stage by actors to further the plot or story line of a theatrical production. Smaller props are referred to as "hand props". Larger props may also be set decoration, such as a chair or table. The difference between a set...

s and scenery to receive thorough consideration to ensure that no perspective is blocked from view. A high backed chair, for instance, when placed stage-right, could create a blind spot in the stage left action.

Created and found spaces

A stage can also be improvised where ever a suitable space can be found. Examples may include staging a performance in a non traditional space such as a basement of a building, a side of a hill or, in the case of a busking troupe, the street. In a similar manner, a makeshift stage can be created by modifying an environment. For example demarcating the boundaries of a stage in an open space by laying a carpet and arranging seating before it.

Stage terminology

The stage itself has been given named areas to facilitate the precise movement and positioning of actors on a stage (see Blocking (stage)
Blocking (stage)
Blocking is a theatre term which refers to the precise movement and positioning of actors on a stage in order to facilitate the performance of a play, ballet, film or opera. The term derives from the practice of 19th century theatre directors such as Sir W. S...

).

To an actor facing the audience, "left" and "right" are the reverse of what they are for the audience. To prevent confusion, actors and directors never use the unmarked terms left or right for the sides of the stage. Rather, they use a phrase specifying the viewpoint. The terms "stage left" and "stage right", respectively, denote the sides of the stage that are on the actor's left and right when the actor is facing the audience, while "house left" and "house right" are the reverse, denoting the sides of the stage as viewed by the audience.

Likewise, the meaning of "front" and "back" would be unclear because they depend on perspective. Instead, the term "upstage" is used to denote the part of the stage furthest from the audience or to motion away from the audience, while "downstage" denotes the portion of the stage closest to the audience or to motion in that direction. These terms were common in older theatres, which gave the audience a better view of the action by inclining the floor (known as a raked stage
Rake (theatre)
English theatre stages in the Middle Ages and early Modern era typically sloped upwards away from the audience. This is known as a rake or raked stage and improves the view for the audience....

), so upstage actually was at a higher elevation than downstage.

A raked stage can vary in its incline; ten degrees is considered ideal for the audience and actor comfort. A dancing surface incline is often different from an acting incline and can vary from three degrees to twenty degrees.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK