Stage Directions: Definition, Examples and also Abbreviations

Estragon, sit on a short mound, is trying to take turn off his boot. He traction at it v both hands, panting.

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From the right, Willy Loman, the Salesman, enters, carrying two big sample cases.Presently the phase MANAGER, cap on and pipe in mouth, enters and also begins place a table and also three chairs downstage left and also a table and three chairs downstage right.Exit, pursued by a bear.

What execute each of this lines from renowned plays have in common?

They’re all instances of stage directions.

As you can see, some room quite basic (a man walks across the stage; who tries come take turn off a boot), while others room more complex (just what execute “downstage left” and also “downstage right” mean?).

One the the very first things every actor demands to learn is what stage directions mean, why they exist, and also how to translate them.

What room Stage Directions?

Stage directions space instructions in the manuscript of a play the tell actors just how to enter, where to stand, when to move, and so on.

Stage directions can likewise include instructions around lighting, scenery, and sound effects, however their key purpose is to overview actors through their activities onstage. (Onstage movement and also positioning is referred to as blocking).

For example, phase directions might tell an actor to pace while transferring their lines, to pick up a prop at a specific moment, or come sit down while listening to an additional character speak.

Movements favor these can include tension, humor, or emotion to a scene, communicate the audience’s attention, and make a personality come alive.

The Basics: Right, Left, Up, Down, Center

Upstage, downstage, stage right, phase left—to brand-new actors who aren’t acquainted with the language of phase directions, these terms can be confusing. What perform they every mean?

First the all, it helps to understand that phase directions are given from the view of one actor dealing with the audience. So, stage right and also stage left are the actor’s right and also left, not the audience’s.

When she standing in the center of the phase with your challenge toward the audience, stage right is the area of the stage to your right, and also stage left is the area the the stage to your left.

What about center stage? as you deserve to probably guess, this is just the middle of the stage. As soon as you’re standing center stage, you’re in ~ the facility of all the action: in between right and also left and also up and down.

Speaking that which, the other key terms are upstage and also downstage. Upstage refers to the part of the phase farthest native the audience. Downstage is the component of the phase closest come the audience.

These state make more sense if you know a small theatre history.

Welcome come the Renaissance

During the Renaissance, theaters weren’t fairly as sophisticated as they are today, and also many audience members would have to stand for the entirety of a play.

Imagine being among Shakespeare’s groundlings: the common human being who couldn’t afford a seat at the theatre and had to stand on the floor in former of the stage. Her head could be level v the stage, and also there would probably be civilization standing in front of you. If an actor stood at the front of the stage, you could see them, yet if they checked out the ago of the stage, away from you, you’d barely even catch a glimpse.

To settle this problem, stages were tilted so that the earlier was greater than the front, enabling the audience to watch the gibbs at all times.

This intended that an actor walking away from the audience would literally it is in walking increase an incline, while an gibbs coming towards the audience would certainly be going down. And that’s exactly how we acquired “upstage” and also “downstage.”

Putting It all Together: Right-Center, Left-Center and More

Now that you know the basics, try to visualize a stage separated right into several sections. Indigenous front to back, you have actually upstage, center stage, and downstage. From ideal to left: stage right, center stage, and stage left.

If you’re exhilaration on one especially large stage, you could hear the terms “left-center,” “right-center,” or also something like “downstage right-center.”

Before your head starts to spin, simply think ago to the basics.

If you know where facility stage is and where phase right and left are, friend can number out the the area in between center stage and stage right is right-center stage, and the area in between center stage and also stage left is left-center. Downstage right-center would be the downstage area between center stage and stage right, and so on.

Abbreviations for phase Directions

To save time, playwrights and directors sometimes use abbreviations. Luckily, these are pretty straightforward:

*

But wait! there’s more: DRC: Downstage right-center, DLC: Downstage left-center, RC: ideal center, LC: Left center, URC: Upstage right-center and also ULC: Upstage left-center

Stage Directions: much more Guidelines than Actual Rules

Now that you recognize your stage directions, this is a last note: stage directions room meant come help, not hinder.

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A playwright adds these instructions as guidelines to assist shape a performance, however ultimately, the last say rests v the actors and director.