How to Learn the Parts of the Stage if you are new to Theatre

Hey, it’s Maggie at Community Theatre Training.

Are you new to theatre? Are you unsure about the parts of the stage? Why is it upstage and downstage? Where the heck is Upstage Left?

If you are new to theatre and want to learn the parts of the stage or if you are feeling a bit shy about asking questions during rehearsal then take a read of this blog as I explain all the parts of the stage.

Just think how awesome it would be if you go to your next rehearsal knowing what the director and stage manager are saying to the actors. Wouldn’t you feel more in tune with what is going on around you?

We’ve all had our first experiences with theatre rehearsals and the learning curve can be quite daunting. But rest assured, I’ve been there too and I work with our new volunteers at my community theatre to make them feel comfortable in this new environment. And you will feel the same way soon too!

So let’s get started.

Not only are you going to learn about the parts of the stage but also a little bit about blocking too as they go hand in hand together.


Now, I know you know your right from your left but it can get a tad confusing during rehearsal when you are facing the stage and all the stage direction is opposite from your point of view.  You have to get used to working from the point of the view of the actors as if you are standing on the stage looking out to the audience. Can you picture yourself standing on stage looking out? So, now you know Stage Right (SR) and Stage Left (SL).

Next, you have upstage, centre stage and downstage.

The stage is divided into various areas and notated from the actor’s perspective looking out into the house where the audience sits. Some large stages are designed with the back portion of the stage elevated and sloped. This is how the term upstage and downstage evolved.

In rehearsal, the director gives the actors movement instructions to various parts of the stage setting up a scene.



You can see in the diagram there are quite a few other areas of the stage too. You have backstage left and right or the wings, you have travelers which are typically black curtains hung floor to ceiling to conceal the backstage wing area and are also sometimes called legs (possibly the term Break a Leg might be based on this). Some theatres will have a main curtain that extends across the proscenium arch. You may have a stage apron, possibly an orchestra pit and at the very back or upstage even a backdrop or a cyclorama. Most theatres are going to have some elements of this basic theatre design.


What is blocking?

I found this simple definition of blocking.

The precise movement and positioning of actors on a stage in order to facilitate the performance of a play, musical, ballet, film or opera.

At a rehearsal while the director is giving stage instructions or blocking to the actors the stage manager writes down when an actor moves from upstage to downstage, stage right to stage left, enters or exits, sits or stands, picks up a prop or throws it into the fireplace, kiss, punch, cries, faints or whatever else an actor does on stage.

Blocking comes with its own terminology and language.  For instance, if a character named Frank moves from upstage right and crosses to downstage left, the stage manager will note in the script FR UR X DL. That is a very basic example of blocking notation.  Each stage manager creates their own blocking notation for each show they work on.

I hope you’ve learned something new for the parts of the stage and blocking to help you feel comfortable at your next or maybe first rehearsal.

If you want to learn more, follow my Community Theatre Training blog, sign up or leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Break a leg, blow a kiss and take a bow!