Types of Performance Stages & Layouts

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Types of Performance Stages & Layouts

August 17, 2018

 

Throughout the history of theatre staging, there have been many different types of stage layouts and applications. Many of those can still be found today. This post will give an overview of some of the most common ones that you will see and how they are typically used best.

Proscenium Stage

When thinking of a “theatre stage”, this is what typically comes to mind. A theatre will typically have a proscenium stage. These have a frame or an arch that leads onto the stage and they typically include an orchestra pit as well. The word “proscenium” is actually a combination of 2 Greek words meaning “before stage.” Some of the most beautiful theatres in the world feature proscenium stages.

proscenium stage
Telluride high school, where we provided stage extensions and acoustic shells, has a proscenium stage.

 

End Stage

This stage layout is fairly common. You’ve probably seen them in smaller music venues. It can be as basic as a raised platform at the end of a room. Like a proscenium stage, the audience sits directly facing the stage. If the audience were on 3 sides, it would be classified as a thrust stage. The primary difference between and end stage and proscenium stage is that the end stage doesn’t have an arch.

 

Thrust Stage

A thrust stage, which has the audience is on 3 sides will thrust into the auditorium seating space. One of the most famous thrust stages of all time is Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This stage layout creates a more intimate feel between the performers and the audience than an end or proscenium stage does.

thrust stage
We provided stage extensions for the San Francisco Jazz Center’s thrust stage.

 

Arena Theatre or Theatre in the Round

An arena theatre or theatre in the round is surrounded by the audience members on all sides. This is used when a background isn’t needed and your performers can engage the audience on all sides. Events that are held in sports arenas can sometimes have this layout if the stage is in the center of the floor, but ironically enough, the event doesn’t need to be in an arena to use this layout. If a concert in a sports arena had the stage at the end of the facility, as is commonly done, it would be either an end or thrust stage depending on where the audience is.

Black Box or Flexible Theatre

Black box or flexible theatre spaces are exactly what they sound like; they’re flexible. The seating risers can be easily rearranged to meet the needs of different performances. The term black box comes from the fact that the room is typically painted black to give the appearance of anyplace since these theatres use limited props. Sometimes there isn’t even a stage used and the performers are on the ground floor.

black box theatre
We provided these flexible seating risers for the black box theatre at Carnegie Mellon University.

 

Conclusion

As we look at the many theatre and stage layouts that are available today, it’s always best to make sure that you’re using the best one for your application when using portable equipment. Different layouts work better for different things. When looking at the equipment for your venue, make sure you consult an expert before making any purchase decisions. This will ensure that you aren’t missing anything and that you’re getting the best equipment to create the best layout for your facility.

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