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Theater Definition of Stage Right

Updated on April 18, 2013

Stage Right is a term used in performing arts to define a certain performing area according to the viewpoint of the performer. Performing space on the stage is divided into different parts. The division of the stage is for the actors to make director’s instructions easy to follow, and for the theater technicians to design stage plan and light plan. Stage is divided horizontally and vertically into different parts. The division such as Stage Right, Stage Left, Upstage, Centerstage, Downstage is according to the viewpoint of the actor.

Stage Left and Stage Right in Thrust Theater
Stage Left and Stage Right in Thrust Theater | Source
Nepal Academy Proscenium Theater Design
Nepal Academy Proscenium Theater Design | Source

Definition of Theater Terminologies

Stage Right is the area on the stage, on the actor's right, when he/she is facing the audience.

Stage Left is the area on the stage, on the actor’s left, when he/she is facing the audience.

Upstage is the area behind the actor, when he is facing the audience. The rear end of the stage is Upstage.

Centerstage is the area in the middle of the stage.

Downstage is the area, in front of the actor while he is facing the audience.

House is the auditorium, which can be raiser, leveled with the stage, or below the stage.

House Left is the area left to the audience while they are facing the stage.

House Right is the area right to the audience while they are facing the stage.

Theater definition of Stage Right, Stage Left, Upstage, Centerstage, Downstage do not change according to the actor’s changing of position during the performance. Therefore, even if the actor turns his back to the audience, or turns left or right on the stage, Upstage and Downstage, Stage Left and Stage Right will always remain the same.

Proscenium Stage set for a play performance
Proscenium Stage set for a play performance | Source

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Stage Left and Stage Right

The terminologies such as Stage Left, Stage Right, Upstage, Downstage etc. are used in theater to give directions to the actors, and theater technicians such as lightman, art director etc. for a stage production. These theater terminologies are commonly referred as blocking. Theater director uses blocking to choreograph actors’ movement during rehearsals. Lightman uses blocking to plan lighting arrangement according to the actors’ position and movement. Art director uses blocking to design the stage and props.

Stage directions such as Stage Left, Stage Right etc. are used in stage productions to set the scene, stage action, design the performing space, do the lighting etc. These directions are designed according to the performing space in the proscenium theater, and also used in other types of theater stage.

Arena Theater (Theater in the Round)
Arena Theater (Theater in the Round) | Source

Stage Directions in Different Types of Theater Stage

In proscenium theater, there is a proscenium arch, the performing space is closed from three sides by the walls or curtains, and audiences watch the performance from the front. Even though stage directions come from proscenium stage, these stage directions can also apply to other types of theater. For instance in Thrust Theater, audiences sit on three sides, however, the stage design is similar to proscenium theater.

Like in Proscenium, the front part of the Thrust stage is Downstage, rear end is Upstage, actor’s left is the Stage Left and actor’s right is Stage Right. The area behind the Upstage is called backstage, which is used as green room, or enter/exit point. In Thrust Theater, when the audience is facing the Stage Left, they are actually in House Right, and when they are in House Left, they face the Stage Right.

In Arena Theater, or Theater in the Round, audiences watch the performance from four sides. The stage is set in the middle, which is either raised from the Floor of the House (the auditorium floor) or at the level of the audiences. There is no backstage, and the actors enter and exit the stage from the House. Stage direction is hard to apply in the Theater in the Round, because audiences are on all sides.

House/Auditorium
House/Auditorium | Source

House Left and House Right

Stage Left and Stage Right are directions used onstage for a theater production. Left and right on the stage is determined from the viewpoint of the performer as he/she faces the audience. Performer’s left is Stage Left, and performer’s right is Stage Right. However, the spectators’ perspective will be just opposite. Audience, normally denoted by House in theater terminology, faces the stage.

The performers and spectators are face to face, therefore their perspective of left and right are just opposite. That is why when the actor enters the stage from the Stage Left, the audience will see the actor entering from the right. Similarly, if the actor is entering the stage from Stage Right, audience will see him entering from the left. Audience’s viewpoint is denoted by House Left and House Right. House Left is Stage Right, whereas House Right is Stage Left.

House Left and House Right is also the viewpoint of the cinematographer, especially when he/she is shooting the performance. In the cinematographer’s perspective, Stage Left is Camera Right, and Stage Right is Camera Left. These instructions are given to the cinematographer by the director to make him/her shoot the performance with ease.

Blocking in a play
Blocking in a play | Source

Stage Directions: Stage Left, Stage Right, Upstage, Centerstage, Downstage

Stage directions such as Stage Left, Stage Right, Upstage, Centerstage and Downstage are according to the viewpoint of the actor. The viewpoint of the actor is based by assuming the actor is in the middle of the stage and faces the audience. Therefore, when the actor is facing the audience, the area on the stage to his/her right is Stage Right, and the area on the stage to his/her left is Stage Left; back of the actor is Upstage, and in front of him/her is Downstage.

Director uses Stage Right, Stage Left, Upstage, Centerstage and Downstage as stage directions to position the actors, choreograph their movement, and make them enter or exit the stage.

Art director uses stage directions such as Stage Right, Stage Left, Upstage, Downstage etc. to design the stage, set the scene, and arrange the props.

Light technicians use stage directions to give proper lighting to the performers and the performing space.

Stage Left, Stage Right etc. are used as cues by the actors to position or change positions on the stage during the performance.

Adaptation of Western drama in Nepali Theater

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    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Good information. I've never paid mch attention but this hub and its diagrams are thorough in its explanations. Makes perfect sense now!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile imageAUTHOR

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      5 years ago from Nepal

      @Christy, great minds think alike,wow! I hope this hub helps theater people. Thanks for your comment.

      @Angel, theater is an ancient art, and it took thousands of years to take this form. Thanks for being here.

      @DDE, thanks for reading and commenting.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great insight to the Theater Definition of Stage Right, and have a view of all sides too

    • Angelme566 profile image

      Angelme566 

      5 years ago

      Oh my a theater stage have different parts ? I thought a stage is just a platform , no particular name of parts . Thanks for supplying my knowledge ! Now only i know these things. A very useful hub you are always making writer ! again. Happy birthday writer !

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Well done, Vinaya. What a coincidence that I recently wrote a poem and called it Stage Right - great minds think alike! There are so many terms to learn so I know this hub will help lots of theater people. Vote up!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile imageAUTHOR

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      5 years ago from Nepal

      @Billy, I love performing arts. I regularly visit theater. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      @always exploring, in a way you can say that because theater is one of my subjects of interest and I'm a regular theater goer. Thanks for your comment.

      @Faith, one of the prestigious theaters in Nepal is in my neighborhood. I trying to learn theater art.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Hello Vinaya,

      Thanks again such an informative hub here. I was going to ask you the same question as always exploring did, are you? You sure do have a lot of knowledge about live theater.

      Voted up +++ and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very enjoyable read. Are you involved in live theater? I would love to see a live theater performance. I have only seen one and i loved it. Thank's Vinaya..

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for the education. I have not seen nearly enough live theater over the years. I don't know why that is because when I have gone I have completely enjoyed it. Anyway, thank you for this.

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