Acting on a thrust stage


What is a thrust stage?

The acting area of a thrust stage juts or “thrusts” out into the audience. This distinguishes it from a proscenium stage, which is located at one end of the theatre with all audience facing it head on. Thrust stages were the traditional configuration of Elizabethan theatre and afforded great intimacy between actors and audience, greatly reducing the need for scenery and giving the audience a three-dimensional view of the action.

To find out more about how best to use a thrust stage, see here.

What plays are suited to a thrust stage?

The basic answer is any play, really. Even a play that is set in a particular room with specific décor and furniture can be set on a thrust – just ditch the décor. Or most of it. And keep the furniture low.

The question to bear in mind when choosing a play is: will this play work when seen in 3 dimensions? That is, with an audience on 3 sides. There are few places to hide on a thrust stage – unless it’s intended that the audience see what is ‘hidden’. But there are many places to shine and be seen. So take the audience on a theatrical adventure using as little décor as possible to show where the action is taking place, and let the rest be done by the actors, evoking the imaginative powers of storytelling. And your genius, if you’re the director.