Most established theatres, from community centres to Broadway venues, feature a built-in type of staging. Many theatres, however, can still alter their existing space in order to mount a production that requires a different kind of theatrical staging. Directors may desire a particular type of staging to help convey a mood or tone that fits the performance.
A proscenium arch is the most common form of theatrical space. With a proscenium arch, the audience faces the stage directly, with wings situated on both sides used for entrances and exits by the actors. The back wall of the stage may be used for projections, scrims or backdrops. The stage is typically elevated a few feet above the audience and, despite the name, may or may not feature an arch shape.
Traverse staging places a long catwalk-like stage in the middle of the theatrical space, with seating positioned on both sides of the stage. As a result, the two sections of the audience face each other, typically along the entire length of the stage. Performances upon a traverse stage may prove challenging, as sight lines can be easily blocked, particularly when the stage features multiple actors.
Thrust staging, a style which dates back to ancient Greece, offers seating around three sides of the stage, in particular along the front and the two sides. The back of the stage features simply a blocked off wall. Some thrust stages include standard three-sided seating with an attached proscenium arch, or wings positioned at the back of the stage.
Theatre in the Round
Theatre-in-the-Round staging features seating around all four sides of the stage, or around the stage in a circular fashion. It offers greater intimacy between the performers and the audience, providing drastically different vantage points throughout the production. The seating around the stage is typically not completely enclosed, with a small opening available between seats which the actors can use to enter and exit the stage.
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