Stage positioning: upstage (left, right, centre)

Stage positioning: upstage (left, right, centre)

Stage Positioning: An Introduction

  • Stage positioning refers to the placement and movement of actors in relation to the stage and audience. This aspect of drama is crucial for the audience’s understanding of the play’s dynamics.
  • Stage positioning is not just about where actors stand, but also about how they move, their body orientation, and how they engage with the space and props around them.
  • An understanding of stage positioning can aid in creating depth in a scene; a practise commonly used to provide different levels of focus.
  • Proper use of stage positioning can greatly enhance dramatic effect and character relationships in a play.

Explanation of Terms

  • ‘Upstage’ refers to the area of the stage that is furthest from the audience.
  • The terms ‘left’, ‘right’, and ‘centre’ in stage positioning are always relative to the actor facing the audience. That is, ‘stage left’ denotes the actor’s left when looking towards the audience, while ‘stage right’ denotes the actor’s right.
  • ‘Upstage left’ and ‘upstage right’ refer to the back corners of the stage while ‘upstage centre’ refers to the middle point at the back.

Practical Use of Stage Positioning

  • Using the terms such as ‘upstage left’ and ‘upstage right’ can help to shape a performance. For example, turning upstage away from the audience to perform an action or speak a line, creates a sense of secrecy or exclusion for the audience.
  • When creating a blocking notation for performers, the director utilises terms like ‘upstage left’, ‘upstage right’, and ‘upstage centre’ to clearly describe where they want the performers to move or be positioned during the performance.
  • Stage positioning not only affects the actor-audience relationship, but also the dynamics between the actors themselves. For example, a character standing upstage implies a sense of power or control over a character standing downstage.