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Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. The three primary stage.

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Presentation on theme: "Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. The three primary stage."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. The three primary stage configurations ProsceniumThrustArena

2 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Also known as the “picture frame stage” because the spectators observe the action through the proscenium arch

3 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage The proscenium arch is a direct descendent of the proskenium and skene of the Ancient Greek theatres The arch separates the stage from the auditorium The arch can vary in both height and width The average theatre has an arch that is 18 to 22 feet high and 36 to 40 feet wide

4 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage The playing area behind, or upstage, of the arch is referred to as the “stage” A stage floor needs to be firm, nonskid, paintable, resistant to splintering and gouging, and somewhat soundproof While some productions utilize the space in front of the arch (known as the “apron”, the primary playing space is typically behind the arch

5 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage The spaces on either side of the stage are the wings Wings are used for storage of scenic elements, props, and other equipment until they are needed onstage The Wings

6 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Also known as the forestage, the apron is an extension of the stage from the arch to the audience It can vary in depth from a narrow 3 ft. to as much as 15 ft. The apron also extends up to 15 ft. beyond either side of the arch The Apron

7 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Many proscenium theatres have an orchestra pit, which is almost always between the apron and the audience It holds the pit band or orchestra during performances that need live music Pits are generally the full width of the proscenium and can be 12 ft. wide The pit needs to be deep enough so that the orchestra will not obstruct the audience’s view Orchestra Pit

8 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Most theatres have found a way to cover the pit when it is not in use; some use removable floor boards so that the apron space can be used for non-musical productions Some theatres use hydraulic lifts to raise and lower the pit Orchestra Pit

9 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage equipment Many theatres have “traps” cut into the stage floor Traps are removable sections which provide access to the space beneath the stage The holes can be filled with stairs, an elevator, a slide, or be left open While traps are typically a feature of the proscenium stage, they can be found in thrust and arena stages as well Traps

10 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage equipment Also called a turntable or revolving stage, the revolve provides a visually interesting and efficient manner of shifting scenery Many theatres have revolves built in to the stage floor Les Miserables is a famous example of a production that uses the revolve in order to simulate the characters “walking” longer distances Revolve

11 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage The area directly over the stage is called the fly loft Referred to as “the flies”, it is usually quite tall, at a minimum two and a half times the height of the arch The height allows scenery to be raised out of sight of the audience Fly Loft

12 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Fly Systems: Rope Set Counterweight

13 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Rope Set Operates like a rope and pulley, except that it has three or more lines The ropes support a batten From the batten they run to the grid, where they pass over loft blocks, which lead them toward the side of the stage house At the edge of the grid, the lines pass over the head block and then down to the fly gallery where they are tied off at the pin rail

14 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Batten: a thick wooden dowel or metal pipe from which are suspended scenery and lighting instruments Loft blocks: a grooved pulley, mounted on top of the grid, used to change the direction in which the rope or cable travels Stage house: the physical structure enclosing the area above the stage and wings Head block: a multisheave block with two or more pulley wheels, used to change the direction of all the ropes or cables that support the batten Fly gallery: the elevated walkway where the pin rail is located, usually 15 to 20 ft. above the stage floor Pin rail: a horizontal pipe or rail studded with belaying pins; the ropes of the rope-set system are wrapped around the belaying pins to hold the batten at a specific height

15 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Counterweight System The counterweight system works on the same principle as the rope-set system and is much safer The support ropes and battens have been replaced with steel cables Instead of the cables being tied off at the pin rail, they are secured to the top of a counterweight arbor, or carriage When the batten is lowered to the stage level, the arbor raises to the level of the loading platform just below the grid—thus allowing the counterweights to be loaded safely

16 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Loading platform: a walkway, suspended just below the grid, where counterweights are loaded onto the arbor Counterweight arbor: a metal cradle that holds the counterbalancing weights used in a counterweight flying system

17 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Motorized Flying Systems Motorized rigging systems are generally used to fly heavy loads such as orchestra shells, light bridges, and so forth There are three basic types of motorized flying systems: drum winches, line shaft systems, and counterweight-assisted systems

18 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Motorized Flying Systems Drum winches Drum winches are used to “dead lift” a load (lifting a load without counterbalancing) They are usually located to one side of the stage The cables are fed through a series of blocks up to the grid and down to the battens

19 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Motorized Flying Systems Line Shaft Line shaft rigging is another type of dead lift system Mounted on the grid, these systems use a motor to drive a rotating shaft equipped with multiple drums Depending on the length of the batten, the shaft will normally have between four and eight drums Steel cable runs from each drum to support the batten When the shaft is rotated, all the drums move simultaneously to raise or lower the batten Counterweight-assisted These motorized rigging systems replace the operating line of a hand-operated counterweight system with a cable that is driven by a drum winch

20 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Stage Drapes The proscenium stage uses more drapery than the thrust and arena Although they have specific functions, all stage drapes are designed to hide or “mask” backstage areas from the spectators Stage drapes are usually made of black, light-absorbing material such as heavyweight velour

21 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Stage Drapes Grand Drape The purpose of the grand drape (also known as the main curtain or grand rag) is to cover the opening of the proscenium. In theatres with a fly loft, this drape can usually be flown (vertically) or traveled (horizontally)

22 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Stage Drapes Grand Valance Normally located just downstage of the grand drape, the grand valance is made of the same material as the main curtain. It is much shorter, however, usually only 8 to 12 ft. high. It is used to mask the equipment and scenery that are flown immediately upstage of the proscenium

23 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Stage Drapes False Proscenium The false proscenium is located immediately upstage of the grand drape and valance. It is normally mounted on a rigid frameword. The “flat” structures of both the hard teaser and tormentors are covered with thin plywood, which is then covered with a velour-type fabric. The primary purpose of the false “pro” is to mask Hard teaser the horizontal element of the false proscenium; usually hung from a counterweight batten so that its height can be adjusted Tormentor the vertical flats that form the side elements of the false proscenium

24 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Show Portal a false proscenium that visually supports the style and color palette of a particular production

25 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Stage Drapes Legs and Borders Legs are narrow, vertical stage drapes that are used to mask the sides of the stage upstage of the arch. They are made of the same material as the other stage drapes. Borders, also called teasers, are short, wide, horizontal draperies used to mask flies

26 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Stage Drapes Sky Drop Also known as the “sky tab”, the sky drop is used to simulate the sky. It is a large, flat curtain usually made of muslin or canvas. It is usually hung on a batten as far upstage as possible. After the 1960s, it became the lighting designers job to make the off- white muslin look like the sky (rather than paint it blue)

27 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Proscenium stage Stage Drapes Cyclorama Also known as the “cyc” The cyclorama is an expansion of the concept of the sky drop. Sky drops cannot surround the set with the illusion of vast expanses of open sky. The “fly cyc” is made from one unbroken expanse of cloth. Sometimes scrims are used in conjunction with cycs and skydrops A scrim is a drop made form translucent or transparent material. When light is shone from the back onto the scrim, the scrim becomes transparent. When light is shone on the front of the scrim, it appears to be opaque

28 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Thrust stage The thrust stage is not a new development. From the Greeks through the Renaissance, audiences gathered on three sides of the playing stage to watch theatrical productions

29 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Thrust stage The stage of the thrust theatre projects into and is surround by the audience, so tall flats, drops, and vertical masking cannot be used

30 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Thrust stage The lighting grid in a thrust theatre is usually suspended over the entire stage. Depending on the design, the lighting grid and instruments can be hidden from or in full view of the audience.

31 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Thrust stage Access to simpler grids is usually from a rolling ladder or scaffold placed on the stage. More complex grids frequently have access from above to a series of catwalks and walkways

32 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Thrust stage Some thrust stages retain a vestigial proscenium arch on the upstage wall as well as a small backstage area. Although battens are frequently “dead hung” and unable to be raised or lowered, some theatres have installed ratchet winches, rope sets, or counterweight sets to move the battens Ratchet Winch A device used for hoisting with a crank attached to a drum

33 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Arena stage The arena stage is an even more intimate actor-audience theatre than the thrust. With the audience surrounding all sides of the stage, they are much closer to the action

34 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Arena stage The scenery used on an arena stage is extremely minimal so as not to block the sightlines of the audience. Any design element must be carefully and accurately constructed because the audience is close enough to notice

35 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Arena stage As in the thrust stage, the space above the arena stage has a lighting grid that frequently covers not only the stage, but also the auditorium

36 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. Black Box Theatres Black box theatres allow for flexible staging. Literally a blank, black box, this space can be transformed into a proscenium, thrust, or arena stage Stage

37 Theatrical Design and Production Chapter 4: The Stage & Its Equipment © 2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights reserved. “Found” Spaces Found theatre spaces are housed in structures that were originally designed for some other purpose. Almost any and every conceivable space can be and has been converted into a theatre space Supermarket Lumberyard Office building Library Restaurant Just to name a few…


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