Setting the stage for success


Stage setup is a very important, yet often neglected, element of an event. The stage needs to meet the unique needs of your performers, while allowing the audience to enjoy the best possible view and sound quality. There are various considerations to take into account when planning your stage setup.

Firstly, your stage needs to be large enough to accommodate the biggest group of performers at your event. You might be able to get away with a small stage for a jazz trio, but you will need a big performance area if you are planning to show off a corps de ballet. On the other hand, a very large stage could dwarf individual speakers if it is not set up properly.

Secondly, you need to find out from performers exactly what equipment they will need (for instance, PA’s, microphones, smoke machines, props, etc.) and thirdly you have to determine the order in which your performers will appear. This will make it easier to arrange equipment on stage. When deciding on the order of appearance, keep in mind that musical acts might have large and heavy instruments and equipment that could get in the way of more physical acts. Plan your event so that a dancer does not have to perform straight after a large band.

Lastly, remember to arrive early for stage setup in case something goes wrong and, if at all possible, run a full stage rehearsal a day or two before the event.


Useful stage lingo:

  • Apron
    The part of the stage juts out into the auditorium.
  • Backstage
    The area in the theatre which is unseen by the audience.  It includes the space in the wings as well as the dressing rooms.
  • Downstage
    The area on the stage that is closest to the audience.
  • Stage Left/Stage Right
    Refers to the stage from the actor’s perspective. That is, when an actor stands on stage and looks into the audience, it is his or her left and right.
  • Upstage
    The part of the stage that is the furthest distance from the audience.
  • Wings
    The spaces which are usually on the side of the stage, typically out of the sight of audience members. Actors can wait here when preparing to make their entrances.