What Are Stage Directions? – Learn Stage Lighting .com

What Are Stage Directions?

Whether you are working directly with musicians, setting up equipment, or planning your next staging design, clear communication is really important.  I can’t count the number of times I have spent going over “which side of stage again?”, when in a production meeting or while setting up equipment and it takes up valuable time in the design process.stage directions

Today, I want to quickly go over stage directions and house directions with this little guide to help you teach and communicate with your volunteer crews in “stage language” so that you can be more effective in your directions.  Plus, it’ll help immensely when a tour comes to your church.

When you are describing things that are onstage, you typically want to give directions as if you are standing as a performing, facing the audience.  The terms we use for that are:

  • Stage Left (Left of the performer from their perspective)
  • Stage Right (Right of the performer from their perspective)
  • Center (same from stage perspective and house perspective)
  • Upstage (the rear of the stage, behind the performer)
  • Downstage (the front of the stage, closest to the audience)
  • Midstage (In between Upstage and Downstage)
  • Onstage and Offstage (used to direct fine adjustments, same from both house and stage positions)
  • House Left (Left from the audience perspective, usually describing something NOT on stage)
  • House Right (Right from the audience perspective, ditto)
  • FOH (describing the control position and/or house lighting position)

If you’ve ever been to an “old-style” theatre with a raked stage, this makes a lot more sense.  I encourage you to begin learning these stage directions yourself and teaching them to your volunteers too.  Though it does take some time to get the hang of, it’s so worth it.  Using these terms really can help your communication with your crews and help you see things from the performers perspective.


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  • Tyler says:

    Would you know where to find a list of the terms used to tell people how to position and move lights while lighting a set? For example, how does a DOP tell a gaffer in the rigging how to change the direction a light is pointing when there are 5 lights near him?


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