What are the Types of Theatre Stages and Auditoria?

Different types of productions require different layouts in theatres. Below are the most popular stage arrangements.

Stages for the promenade

The proscenium arch is an architectural framework that supports the stage. It can be arched or not. The stages are often deep and sometimes raked. This means that the stage gently slopes away from the audience. Sometimes, the stage’s front extends beyond the auditorium into the proscenium. This is called an apron or forestage. Proscenium arch theatres are theatres that contain the proscenium stage. They often have an orchestra pit to play live music and a fly tower to control the movement of scenery or lighting.

Thrust stages

These ‘thrust’ the audience into the auditorium, with them sitting on three sides. Although the thrust stage is usually rectangular, it can also be semi-circular or half an oval with as many sides as you like. These stages are used to enhance intimacy between the actors and the audience.

Theatres in the round

They have a central performance space that is enclosed by the audience from all sides. It is rare for the arrangement to be ’round’. Rather, it is more common for the seating to be in a rectangular or polygonal configuration. Actors enter the theatre through passageways or vomitories. The scenery is kept minimal and placed in a way that does not block the audience’s view.

Arena theatres

Arena theatres are auditoria that have large audiences and a central stage with audiences from all sides. They look similar to theatres-in-the-round. The stage area is rectangular and more like a sports arena with tiered seating.

Studio theatres or black-box

These spaces can be used as flexible performance areas. They are usually a single room with a black floor and the audience at the same level. These spaces are often flexible enough to allow temporary seating to be set up in many different configurations, allowing for various productions.

Platform stages

They usually have a raised platform that is rectangular at one end of the room. You can choose from a flat or raked floor. The audience is seated in rows facing the stage. Platform stages are often used in multi-purpose halls, where theatre is not the only use. They are also known as open or end stages.


Hippodromes look similar to circuses. They have a central circle arena with concentric tiered seating. The arena is often separated from the audience by deep pits or low screens.

Theatres open to the public

These outdoor theatres do not have roofs, but some stage and audience seating parts may be covered. These stages can make full use of natural light, especially at sunset.

Site-specific theatre

Site-specific theatre is often performed in non-traditional spaces such as a home, pub, or warehouse. It often reflects the history, atmosphere, or experiences of a particular place.

Promenade Theatre

The audience follows the performance of the actors and moves from one place to the next.

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