Stage design for concert settings differs from theatrical stage design in some respects, but much of the process is the same. Concert stage designers must work with the performers to produce a stage design, or "set," that allows the performers optimal space for their movements as well as allowing the audience the best possible view of the stage from a variety of angles.
Concerts may require one of the three basic types of staging. In arenas, the audience surrounds the stage set on all four sides. In thrust staging, the audience is on three sides of the stage set, while proscenium staging is similar to the typical theatrical experience, where the audience is only in front of the performers. Variations on these staging types for concerts may include multiple smaller arena stages, allowing the performers to be surrounded by the audience from separate locations.
Concert staging generally includes various collapsible platforms that lock together to create a large, sturdy performance area. The staging also is generally designed with a variety of levels to improve visibility and add visual interest. Drummers may be set on an elevated platform near the rear of the stage in a proscenium or thrust set-up, or on a raised platform that rotates at the centre of arena staging. Backup singers may also be elevated. For orchestral concert staging, the conductor is often raised on a small podium or larger platform. Orchestral or symphonic concerts often use various levels of staging or risers so each row of musicians can see the conductor.
Many concert tours visit a variety of theatres, so concert stage designs must be adaptable to fit into different theatre sizes and types. A music group may perform in an arena setting one night and a thrust venue the next, so a scenic design that has pieces that can be added or taken away is required to fit into the different venues.
Designing concert staging begins with meetings between the designer and the producer, director and the band or conductor to discuss the performance's physical needs. Other technical aspects of the performance, such as lighting and sound, are also a part of these meetings. The stage designer works together with the rest of the technical team to ensure all the physical needs are met and that the design reflects the image the producer wants to convey through colour, shape and texture as well as any other theatrical design elements such as scenery or backdrops.
Concerts often take place in large venues that seat thousands. Design elements must be visible from even the farthest seats to be an integrated part of the production. Fine details are usually not a part of concert designs for this reason. Lighting and scenic designers must work closely together to ensure that the scenic elements and colours work well under the concert lighting. Multimedia is often a large part of modern concerts, so the stage designer must work with multimedia developers to create spaces for video projections, as well.
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