Learn Your Way Around the Stage!

Contributor: Morgan Haney. Lesson ID: 13348

Just like doctors or lawyers, people who work in the theatre use a lot of special words to talk about their jobs. Grow your theatre vocabulary by learning the words for the parts of the stage!


Theatrical Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Picture a theatre stage in your head.

  • Did it look something like this?


This is the kind of stage upon which most people think theatre is performed, but there are also lots of other kinds of stages that look very different from this one!

Today, you'll find out more about the different types of stages, and you'll learn how to talk about all the parts of them too.

The stage you see above is one of many different kinds of stages.

There are three main types of stages, and what makes them different is how the stage and the audience are situated.

Stage Types


Even though you probably don't know this word, you definitely know this stage! It's the one from above that you probably thought of first.

What makes a proscenium is that the audience is all in front of the stage, like they are at a movie theater.

The proscenium arch is like a picture frame for the stage. In the picture below, the big gold arch around the stage is the proscenium arch.

proscenium stage


A thrust stage literally thrusts, or juts, out into the audience, so that the audience sits on three sides of the stage, not just one like in a proscenium.

As you can see in the picture below, a thrust stage can still have an arch, but the important thing is that the stage juts out into the audience. This thrust stage is rectangular, but the stage can also have a round edge.

Pasant Theatre thrust stage

Image by Wharton Center, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.


Also called theatre in the round, an arena stage has audience on all sides, just like a sports arena has fans all around the field.

In an arena stage, the actors have to work hard to make sure that everyone in the audience gets to see their faces! Below is a picture of an orchestra concert performed on an arena stage.

ElbPhilharmonie in Germany

Stage Directions

  • How does an actor find their way around a stage?

In the theatre, people use special terms to talk about the parts of the stage.

Watch the beginning of Theater And Stage Directions || For Beginners, from Emily Workman, so you can find your way around a stage like a professional actor.

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Here's a game for you to keep practicing stage directions!

Four Sides

This game can be played with as few as three people and as many people as you want!

Find a room that has an open, rectangular space, and imagine you are on a stage. Pick a side of this stage, and make it the audience.

Now, find where upstage, downstage, stage left, and stage right are.

One person goes to the middle of the stage, faces the audience and closes their eyes. That person counts to 10. While they do that, the other players move around the stage as quietly as they can.

When the person in the middle gets to 10, everyone has to have chosen a side of the stage. In a game with four players or less, you cannot chose the same side as anyone else.

Without opening their eyes, the person in the middle calls out a stage direction. Whoever is on that side of the stage is out!

Repeat until you only have one person left in, and they are the next one in the middle. Have fun!

Once you're comfortable with the types of stages and stage directions, move on to the Got It? section to quiz yourself!

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