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Acting Positions on a Proscenium Stage
Most of the time, you will be acting on a proscenium stage. That is a stage that has a large arch (proscenium arch) that frames the front-most portion of the acting area.
Almost all the acting takes place on the stage behind the area framed by the arch (This is the area with the various letter labels.) The shallow stage area in front of the arch is called the apron. The apron can also be used as an acting area.
The letter labels define general stage areas.
"C" is the "center" of the stage.
"D" is "down" stage, meaning closer to the audience.
"U" is "up" stage, meaning closer to the back wall.
"R" and "L" are "stage right" and "stage left".
The following is really important to understand:
Stage right is the actor's right as the actor stands on the stage facing the audience.
Stage left is the actor's left as the actor stands on the stage facing the audience.
If the actor is facing up stage (toward the back wall), stage right and stage left are determined as if the actor were standing on the stage facing the audience. So the left side of the stage is always the left side. It doesn't change when the actor faces different directions. The right side of the stage is always the right side. It also doesn't change when the actor faces different directions.
Now we are going to confuse things. The term "house" is used to describe the seating area for the audience. In a proscenium theatre, that would be everything in front of the apron.
"House left" and "house right" refer to your left or right as if you were sitting in the audience looking at the stage.
This left and right thing can be confusing. Try this simple exercise:
Stand up. Make believe you are standing on a stage in a rehearsal. Your computer screen is the audience.
Now stretch your left arm out to your left. Your arm is pointing "stage left." It is also pointing "house right."
Keep you arm out there and turn around; face away from your computer. Make believe you are facing the back wall of the stage with the audience behind you. Your left arm is now pointing "stage right." It is also pointing "house left." Stage left and stage right, and house left and house right will always be the same, no matter which way you are facing.
Most stage directions refer to your position on the stage, looking out toward the audience. So, if you're at an audition, on stage, facing the back wall and the director says "Hey you, in the yellow jeans and the platform shoes, move left.", quickly visualize yourself facing the audience then move to the "left" - which will actually be your right. Got it? You do? Whew! You're brilliant! We love ya, baby!
THUNDEROUS ROUND OF APPLAUSE!!!
OK, back to work.
Now practice all the different stage position until you can go to each one without thinking too hard. Make believe the room you are in is a theatre. Pick a wall to be the audience (the "house".) Cross (on stage, to move from one place to another is called a "cross") to the various stage positions. This works better if you have a buddy to help you, but if there isn't anyone else there, do it anyway.
Learn this this. Get comfortable with this. This is what actors need to know.
You Are An Actor
It is important to develop your identity as an actor. We identify ourselves as many things. Students, workers, friends, lovers, sisters, brothers, uncles...many things.
If you're like most people, "Actor" is not one of those things that you are regularly identified as. And you probably don't get a lot of reinforcement for your desire to be an actor. (Does this sound familiar? "An actor? You want to be an actor? Be sensible. Be an accountant maybe, or a doctor, or something where you can earn a living! An actor? Be sensible!")
When you get up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror. Look into your own eyes and say to yourself...
"I Am An Actor."
Say it like you mean it. Say it often. Even if you don't want to be a professional actor. Say it. It is important to identify yourself as an actor. Believe it.
That's the end of this section. Other sections in this lesson...
WHAT EVERY ACTOR NEEDS TO KNOW