Analysis of the Proscenium Arch, Arena, Thrust, Traverse and Open stages

Essay by jarrah May 2007

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a)The Proscenium Arch StageThis stage is the traditional stage, where the audience is seated in one large block facing the stage, with a definite division between the audience and the stage. This division is usually in the form of an arch or a frame, called the proscenium arch.

Advantages: This stage is the most common, and most of the world’s scripts were designed with this kind of staging in mind. It also allows much more realism and special effects, as the audience only watches from one side, so “tricks” can be concealed and props/scenery/actors can be positioned, ready for action, only just out of the audience’s view. A curtain at the back allows actors to run from one side of the stage to the other without being seen, while elements of the play can easily be brought into view or taken out from above, below, or the sides.

Disadvantages: The proscenium theatre is the most expensive to build and maintain.

Because of the high production costs, plays for the proscenium stage are often written for small casts and minimal scenery. Also, the proscenium stage is not flexible; it cannot provide intimate contact with the audience, or give a different stage orientation.

b)The Arena Stage/Theatre in the RoundAn arena stage is an open stage where the audience surrounds the stage, similar to the Colosseum. The stage may be any shape and provides access for actors and audience alike with aisles through the seating. Some stages have tunnels instead of aisles, to hide actors as they move towards and away from the stage.

Advantages: The arena stage is best for amateur groups with low funding, as it is a cheap stage to produce, the focus is solely on the actors, scenery costs are reduced to a minimum, and the audience, being close...