Stage positioning: downstage (left, right, centre)

Stage positioning: downstage (left, right, centre)

Stage Positioning: An Overview

  • Stage positioning refers to the place where an actor stands or moves during a performance.
  • Stage positioning affects how the audience perceives characters and their actions. For example, a character standing downstage might be perceived as more ‘important’ or ‘prominent’ than characters standing upstage.

Understanding Downstage

  • Downstage is the part of the stage located closest to the audience. It gains its name from when traditional stages where raked, or sloped, with the back of the stage (upstage) elevated higher than the front (downstage).
  • The downstage area can be divided into three parts: downstage left, downstage centre, and downstage right. The perspective is always from the actor’s point of view – when they face the audience.

Downstage Positions

  • Downstage centre would mean standing in the middle of the stage area closest to the audience. This position often carries importance as the actor is the closest to the audience, leading to increased intimacy or emphasis on their actions/words.
  • Downstage left refers to standing on the left side of the stage (from the actor’s viewpoint) near the audience. This position can be used by directors to create variety in stage picture.
  • Downstage right refers to standing on the right side of the stage (again from the actor’s viewpoint) near the audience. Rubrics about stage positioning can alter the viewers’ focus towards particular actors or actions.

Stage Directions

  • Instructions for stage positioning are often included in scripts, they are written in abbreviated forms like DSL for downstage left, DSC for downstage centre, and DSR for downstage right.
  • Dancers and actors may use these positions to create interesting visual composition, support the narrative, or highlight important moments or characters.