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Stage Directions

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Shelley Crosby

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of Stage Directions

Stage Directions
What Are These Areas Called?
A stage is divided into two major playing areas or directions—upstage and downstage. Away from the audience is considered upstage (U); towards the audience is downstage (D).
The stage is divided up into Left (L), Center (C), and Right (R), with the directions corresponding to the actor standing on the stage’s point of view. The stage is therefore be divided up into fifteen playing areas:

Blocking Shorthand
Directors use the shorthand listed on the chart to indicate where actors move on stage; deciding and recording where an actor moves on stage is called blocking. For example, if a director wanted an actor to enter up right and walk or cross down left center, the shorthand symbols for the stage directions would look like: Enter UR X DL.
Up Right (UR)
Up Right Center (URC)
Up Center (UC)
Up Left Center (ULC)

Up Left (UL)
Right (R)
Right Center (RC)
Center (C)
Left Center (LC)
Left (L)
Down Right (DR)
Down Right Center (DRC)
Down Left (DL)
Down Center (DC)
Down Left Center (DLC)
It's Important!
Stage directions are the terminology used to direct traffic on stage. All stage directions are given in reference to facing the audience while standing on stage (much like port and starboard on ships)
Stage Diagram
Getting to Know the Stage
Absorb Activity
Shelley Crosby
Dr. Linda Ellington
March 31, 2014
Translate the following stage directions on a separate piece of paper. Showing the trail of travel by drawing arrows on the stage diagram.

Enter L X URC X DL
Enter DR X UL Exit L
Enter UL X DLC X UC X DR Exit

On Stage Body Positions
Understanding how and where to stand on stage so that the audience can see you and hear you is an important part of being on stage. If they cannot see your face and hear your voice, you are not allowing the audience to see and hear the story being told.
Body Position: Full Front
For the body position lesson, assume you are the audience and the actors are on the stage facing you.
This is considered a strong position. Our character is fully "open" to the audience. He can best be seen and heard by the audience.
To "open" is to face toward the audience. Depending on the intent, this can mean to turn a little bit toward the audience or to face the audience in the "full front" position.

1/4 Left & 1/4 Right Positions
These positions are fairly open, and are also strong positions, though not as much as the full front position.
To achieve the 1/4 left or 1/4 right position, just move one of your legs more upstage (toward the back wall) then the other. This forces you to turn your body a bit. Which way you turn depends upon which leg you move upstage.
Stand up and try it!
1/4 Stance Explained
When two performers "share" a scene on stage (they are both open to an equal degree), this is generally the position they will take. If they faced full front, like our character, and talked to each other while looking straight out to the audience, that would not look "natural".

If they turned and faced each other directly ( profile ) they would look "natural" but they would not be seen or heard very well by the audience. So when two actors "share" a scene, they will usually assume the 1/4 position.
While this position does not look totally natural, it is a theatre convention readily accepted by the audience. The trick is to be open enough to still be seen and heard well, but to be turned enough toward the other performer to appear to be looking at each other.

Left And Right Positions
Profile is not a strong position because the audience members in the far left or right of the "house" (the audience area) will only see the back of the performer who is facing away from them. They will also have a harder time hearing and understanding them.
Unless there is some specific reason you need to be in profile as directed, you should strive for more "open" positions.
3/4 Positions
These are generally weak positions that should be avoided. Typically, no one in the audience can see the performers' faces (all facial expressions are lost) and the performers are talking upstage, which makes it hard for the audience to hear all that important and meaningful dialogue.
Full Back Position
By far the weakest position. The audience cannot see the performers faces and their lines are being said to the back wall. Unless the director has a dramatic reason, always...

Upstaging! Oops!
When actors are sharing a scene, each performer has equal importance and focus. Note that in the drawing, one actor is "upstage" from the other. It forces that actor to:
1. move upstage to the actor which takes them further from the audience.
2. He can direct all his lines out to the audience or into the wings away from the actor.
3. He can turn upstage to the actor but his face will be away from the audience
The geography of the stage and the proper way to present yourself on stage is one of the basic essentials for any type of acting or stage work. The proficiencies outlines in this exercise will ensure facility with this language and also an increased comfort level when auditioning, rehearsing and performing.
Handout Stage Directions. Retrieved from: Folgers Shakespeare Library www.folger.edu.education 2007

Horton, W., E-learning by design. (2e) San Francisco, CA 2012

Stage Directions. Retrieved from: www.controlbooth.com

What is an Absorb Activity?
"Absorb activities are best for highly motivated learners. They are not inherently interesting. However, they are highly efficient for individuals who can focus their attention and are motivated enough to expend the effort to learn from "mere information" (Horton, W. 2012 pt.68).
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