Different stage shapes

The layout or shape of a stage can vary. The arrangement of the performance space can influence an audience's connection to a performance.

diagram showing the proscenium stage

Proscenium stage

The proscenium, or picture frame stage, is the traditional stage. The audience is seated in front of the stage. They are separated from the performance by a wall with an opening that allows them to see the space where the action takes place. It is as if the audience were looking at a picture with a frame around it. Curtains usually open to reveal the space. The name of this stage comes from the arch that was part of Greek Theatre stages.


Example of the proscenium stage

Proscenium stage

The proscenium, or picture frame stage, is the traditional stage. The audience is seated in front of the stage. They are separated from the performance by a wall with an opening that allows them to see the space where the action takes place. It is as if the audience were looking at a picture with a frame around it. Curtains usually open to reveal the space. The name of this stage comes from the arch that was part of Greek Theatre stages.


Diagram of a thrust stage

Thrust stage

The thrust stage extends into the audience space so that the audience sits on three sides of the stage. The actors must play to the three sides of the stage. The audience will have different sightlines of the action on the stage according to where they are sitting. This type of stage was used in the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare's day.


Example of a thrust stage

Thrust stage

The thrust stage extends into the audience space so that the audience sits on three sides of the stage. The actors must play to the three sides of the stage. The audience will have different sightlines of the action on the stage according to where they are sitting. This type of stage was used in the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare's day.


Diagram of a theatre in the round

Arena stage

The arena stage is often referred to as 'threatre in the round' because the audience sits around the central stage. The stage can also be a square shape. An arena stage is most often seen at a circus or at concerts.


Example of an arena stage

Arena stage

The arena stage is often referred to as 'threatre in the round' because the audience sits around the central stage. The stage can also be a square shape. An arena stage is most often seen at a circus or at concerts.


Diagram of an open stage

Open stage

The open stage is similar to a proscenium arch stage except there is no arch and therefore no backstage or wings. The stage is as wide as the space available and the actors can only play to the front. This stage is often used in temporary situations like shopping centre presentations and outside threatre events.


Disgram of traverse stage

Traverse stage

The traverse stage stretches down the central length of the space and the audience is seated on either side of the stage. There are no curtains and all scene and prop changes have to made in front of the audience.