STAGING STYLES - PART 2
1st July 2019
Following on from
last weeks staging styles article, where Saatvika covered ‘Proscenium’ &
‘In-The-Round’ staging, this week she talks about ‘Thrust’ & ‘Traverse’
staging. If you missed last week’s article, you can find it here.
This configuration is the oldest known fixed type of staging in the world, widely seen in Greek theatres! The acting area extends into the audience, with the backstage still remaining connected from the upstage end. This performance area may not always be square but semi-circular or half a polygon with numerous sides. Audience is traditionally seated on 3 sides or in a semi-circle around the stage.
There are many benefits and challenges to this style. It serves as a flexible space that provides intimacy with audience around the stage, while still being connected to the backstage allowing limited entries/exits and more design options. Since this stage extends into the audience, the set must be 3D, working from all angles and attention to detail must be far greater due to the same proximity.
Image Credits - Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
It was considered the preferred staging style for William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s Globe in London is designed with a thrust stage and has had many iconic Shakespeare productions on it. The two theatres at the Royal Shakespeare Company are also designed with thrust stages. In India, the Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai and Jagriti Theatre and Ranga Shankara in Bangalore are famous for their thrust stages.
Productions that have been designed with thrust staging include Peter Brook’s Battlefield, RSC’s King Lear, Playmaker Repertory Company’s Sweeney Todd.
A unique staging option that is seldom used, a traverse stage is a column with audience on opposite sides facing each other. It is also known as an alley or corridor style. It is an unusual form of staging for theatre, but commonly used in fashion shows called a catwalk.
A performance at Aadyam Season 3, Guards at the Taj, used a reverse-traverse staging – with audience in the centre and action on opposite ends!
Productions that have been staged in traverse include the Royal Court’s Pah-la, National Theatre Scotland’s Black Watch, Young Vic’s Hamlet and Royal National Theatre’s People, Places and Things.
An advantage of this style of staging is that it is intimate, allowing the actors to use the audience for effect. It is not possible to build a traditional set and design is frequently treated like in-the-round with minimal, transparent or 3D set. All set changes will happen in view of the audience. Audience on either side of the stage will always see opposing views of the action, giving them very different experiences. Similar to theatre in-the-round, lighting must at least be 3-sided to allow audience to view them evenly from opposite sides. Actor’s must work harder to project as well, so that their voices can travel to the opposite audience bank when they’re facing one set of audience. Sound mixing can also challenging to ensure the entire room gets the same experience.
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