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Samantha Esquivel
3 years ago

What are the advantages and challenges of each space ?

5 years ago

Hi I really need disadvantages for a thrust stage. I can’t think of any please help!!!

Mark Howell
Reply to  EL
2 years ago

There aren’t any. The biggest problems with this stage layout is that teachers & students & professional performers don’t know and have little skill and knowledge in how to make it work best. Audience on three sides:
A. Immediately awakens performers to the inclusion of spectators/audience in every single scene of any play being performed.
B. Is NOT the same as “Audience Participation,” like we see in Pantomimes, today.
C. Obliges performers to see, speak to, and hear every single spectator/audience member in every moment of any play being performed.
D. Can be harmed and undermined by directional stage lighting, which tends to blind perfomers to audiences, even when they’re on three sides.
E. Was the format Shakespeare chose for performing his plays, so arguably the best model for performing any play today, not just Shakespeare.
F. OBLIGES movement in performers. It thus heightens imaginative performances.
We all know the poor student performer who “can’t think of any movement to do in this speech, Miss… can you help please?” Audiences ONLY to the FRONT limits these student’s ability for movement because, quite simply, this audience arrangement doesn’t REQUIRE or OBLIGE any movement from performers! In contrast, audience on three sides has the opposite impact: it OBLIGES performers to MOVE.

Performers turning to face each side of the audience during the delivery of Shakespeare’s KEY lines demonstrates just how significant this arrangement can be:
“To be” (to one side)
“Or not to be” (to the other side)
“That is the question” (to the front).

The best version is the mysterious
“Romeo” (to one side)
“Romeo” (to the other side)
“Wherefore art thou Romeo?!” (to the front)
…because performing these lines like this immediately reveals Juliet means “WHY are you called Romeo?” not “WHERE are you Romeo?”
Performing these three lines only to the front misleads students into believing Juliet is SEARCHING for Romeo, because the performer gazes out in only one direction.

Audience on three sides of performers has always been the most common form of professional theatres “over the last 400 years” according to Iain Mackintosh, Architecture, Actor and Audience (Routledge 1993, 25) categorically identifies a “continuity of character” in England’s (or the UK’s) most inspiring professional theatres “over the past 400 years.” These characteristics include being:
1. Small scale.
2. Uncomfortable.
3. With “audience on three sides of the main acting area, with the greater proportion to the front.”

Be VERY CLEAR in your teaching: these characterise every single one of England’s most inspiring theatres over the last 400 to 450 years.

Mackintosh and I disagree on what is CORE to these performance spaces. My own publications emphasise the significance of “on three sides.” Mackintosh agrees this is significant, but not CORE. He prefers to emphasise the “small scale” factor. The so-called “Thrust Stage” is a term dating from c,1890 (not earlier – see Oxford English Dictionary), when Parliament ORDERED the closure of all theatres where performers & audience shared the same space. New laws passed from 1876 -1892 directed Theatre Managers and owners to build a masonry wall, 3ft deep (stretching from basement through the roof line), categorically banning audiences from being anywhere near the stage floor. “Fire protection” was the specious grounds of ).

5 years ago

Hi, are there any more advantages of a thrust stage? I need two for my homework.

Thank you

Mark Howell
Reply to  Justin Cash
2 years ago

Is Justin Cash’s reply an error? He wrote (September 12, 2018 at 12:59 pm), “…there’s probably more disadvantages to performing on a thrust stage, than advantages,” yet what he lists as “disadvantages” categorically HELP improve performances. (1) “Intimate actor-audience relationship” (2) m”ore audience numbers closer to the stage” (3) “no need to mic actors” (4) “…no need for large sets”. Isn’t that how Shakespeare chose to stage plays? If they’re an advantage to Shakespeare, they’re also an advantage to performing ANY play. Iain Mackintosh, Architecture, Actor and Audience (Routledge 1993, 25) specifically identifies a “continuity of character” in England’s most inspiring professional theatres “over the last 400 – 450 years” as (a) small-scale (b) uncomfortable (c) audience on three sides of the main acting area, with the greater proportion to the front.” Anyone who mistakenly believes audience only to the front is an “advantage” sadly prioritises performers as “Speakers” or “Orators” lit by directional lighting, which blinds performers to audiences. In effect, this arrangement cuts out the audience. Anyone seeking to do this (on the specious grounds of so-called “Naturalism” or “Fire protection”) reduces the significance of audiences. No Audiences = no Performance = no Professional Theatre. Wake up and smell the audience as the most significant people in any performance. It’s the only way to teach theatre or performance or acting…. Audiences ALWAYS increase when they’re embracing performers (in promenade, on three sides, in-the-round) because they feel valued.

Reply to  Ella
5 years ago

Do you go to high school?

Reply to  Lucy
5 years ago

I’m not Ella but that is pretty creepy.

Angelina sky lopez
6 years ago

Hello, I’m Angelina Do you mind helping me out on 5 advantages on an arena, stage thank you for your time have a great day!

Ellie Kaye
6 years ago

Hi I am doing a project for school and I need to know a disadvantage and advantage of an arena stage many thx!!

Mark Howell
Reply to  Justin Cash
2 years ago

What’s wrong with “performers backs to the audience”? This falsely presumes audiences only to the front as the principal form of theatre space. Justin Cash, why would anyone presume this, when we know Shakespeare performed with the audience on three sides? If Shakespeare is NOT your model, it’s difficult to see how you value professional theatre or play performances. You seem more interested in performers and “set pieces” of scenery than in audiences. Wanamaker’s New Globe Theatre (opened 1997) is the world’s most popular venue – tickets sell out 6 months in advance both in the new indoor space and in the open air. Audiences are constantly SHOCKED by its performances, surprised at their ACTIVE nature. “Audience participation” (in the proscenium arch traditional format) rarely happens because it’s NEVER required: audiences are included in the performance by virtue of surrounding the main acting area on three sides. If we want our performances to be popular, and successful, we should follow Iain Mackintosh’s “continuity of character” evidence in England’s most inspiring professional theatres “over the last 400-450 years”: (1) Small scale (2) Uncomfortable (3) Audience on three sides of the main acting area, with the greater proportion to the front.” (Architecture, Actor & Audience Routledge 1993, 25)

6 years ago

What is a promenade theater

Mark Howell
Reply to  a-aron
2 years ago

Promenade Theatre happens when audiences STAND throughout the play performance. English Director Max Stafford-Clark restored promenade performance of plays in the 1980s at the Royal Court Theatre in London with “Road,” a fabulous striking play revealing the harms unemployment brings to whole communities. Britain’s National Theatre staged “The Mysteries” (Tony Harrison) its most successful sell-out performances (before War Horse Dir. Marianne Elliot & Tom Morris). Photographs of The Mysteries appear on the cover of the book by J. R Mulryne & Margaret Shewring “Cottesloe at the National, The: Infinite Riches in a Little Room” 1999 ( ) and these promenade performances were broadcast by UK Channel 4 and can still be seen on YouTube here:

Georgia McCabe
6 years ago

I was wondering if you could add a little bit more about Proscenium Arch stages and there advantages and disadvantages.

7 years ago

Hi, I was wondering what are some advantages and disadvantages of a black box stage.

7 years ago

hello i need to find ot

7 years ago

Are there any more advantages and disadvantages of thrust staging? I need three of each.

7 years ago

i am writing my project, and it is giving me a lot of problem, i need a help with ‘ found spaces and the challenges of aesthetic finishing

Nichole sweet
8 years ago

This is great. I like this because it gives you a lot of information and explains some advantages and disadvantages. Justin Cash you have done a great job.

9 years ago

great stuff m808

9 years ago

Hi there!
I’m doing homework for school and I was wondering what another use for a traverse stage was? (Not a fashion show?)
Thanks 🙂

Reply to  Maxine
7 years ago

I have seen a piece where Traverse was used to create a debate for an election and it made the audience feel like they were being persuaded into voting for each person. I hope this has helped.

Shibin Xavier
Reply to  Maxine
6 years ago

Am shibin Xavier from India.We have folklore festivals in which they uses travers for healthy art competitions like competing each other one by one. it can be usefull for other ‘two group’ competitions. For instance chessboard kind of structured play can be done in this way. Considering the fact this is a school,frame the event with a little bit fun so that the interraction will be high. Thank you