February 23, 2021
In this section we will go through the different types of stages, not the modular systems(although some can be made using modular staging) but the actual stage types.
We hear you say a stage is a stage, well yes but there are subtle differences and purposes for each stage.
We have not mentioned all types of stages but these we feel are the main stages that our products would be used for.
This is what most people think of as a theatre stage. The name comes from the Proscenium arch (which is not always an arch) that frames the performance for the audience. This particular type of stage can trace its origins back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, although the first stage as we would recognise it is believed to be in The Farnese Theatre in Parma, Italy.
In most theatres these are deep stages, sometimes raked from back to front that normally have a fly tower. The fly tower is where the fly bars are attached to the grid so drapes, lights and scenery can be flown in and out. Most of these towers are at least double the height of the proscenium arch so as to hide the scenery set when flown out.
Another feature of proscenium stages is the Apron; this is a small bit of stage that is in front of the arch. In many theatres you will find an orchestra pit in front of the apron although this is not always the case. With some productions not needing the orchestra pit this can often be covered over to make the apron more into a thrust.
A proscenium stage can be created using truss, stage flats or even a simple pipe and drape for productions in arenas or multi use spaces to help frame the performance.You will of course need some modular staging as well.
As well as being used in theatres this type of stage lends itself to corporate presentations, Q&A sessions, award ceremonies and of course festivals.
Advantage: You get excellent sight lines and a feeling of spectacle
Disadvantage: You audience can feel disengaged from the performance.
The Thrust stage, also known as an open stage or a platform stage, is a stage that has an audience on three sides. This helps cement the connection between the performer and their audience. You would think this is a relatively modern concept but in fact the thrust stage has a long and established history, going back to the corrales in Spain and even the Globe in London, England. It was also widely used in Noh theatre in Japan.
The thrust stage is connected to the backstage area via the upstage section of the stage. This allows entrance to the stage without going through the audience. Sometimes there is access to the stage via Vomitory entrances.
When using a thrust stage careful consideration should be taken with sets and props as there is an audience on three sides. A prop on stage left could create a blind spot for the audience on this side.
This type of stage is easily constructed using modular staging systems and set flats and is widely used in the event industry for prestations, Q&A sessions and fashion shows.
Advantages: The audience can feel more connected with the performance and you get the advantage of a backstage area.
Disadvantages: Sight-lines and set changes can be difficult.
Theatre in the Round
Theatre in the Round is also known as arena stage, central stage or sometimes island stage, in most cases it is not normally round but square or polygonal. In a lot of cases there is not a stage as such: rather the audience area is tiered and rises above the performance area. This type of stage once again has its origins back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was also widely used in Medieval times especially in England until the thrust stage became popular in Elizabethan times. It then all but disappeared with the proscenium stage taking over in the 17th century.
However it began to make a comeback in the 1930s with the productions of Nikolay Pavlovich Okhlopkov in Moscow. In the 1960s the experimental theatre troops began to use this format in their popular theatre productions rejecting the costrates of a proscenium stage.
To this day this stage area is still popular with many shows and with the rise of multi use arenas there have been additions such as revolving stages which allow the audience to see shows where the performers don’t have the freedom to move around i.e. bands.
Advantages:The audience feels more engaged with the performance. You may be able to get a larger audience into a space.
Disadvantages: Sight-lines can be a challenge. Minimal set and props. Can be costly creating the audience area.