Different venues can have a huge effect on a production. They can create beautiful and intriguing staging options for directors and designers, and really surprise and enchant audiences. They can also pose many challenges to the production.
For this exercise, students will compare and contrast different types of stages/venues and look at how different stages can affect how a show is performed. This exercise will help students think outside the box and come up with creative ideas about staging a show.
Here are seven different types of stages/venues that shows could be performed on/in:
You might want to start this exercise by showing pictures of the seven types of stages. Project them on a screen so everyone can see.
1. Students select partners. Have each pair select a play or musical that they would be interested in staging. Each partner will then draw out of a hat one of the seven stages/venues listed above. That way, each pair has two different locations to compare.
2. Students will create a pro and con list for both venues they selected, comparing and contrasting strengths/weaknesses and advantages/disadvantages. Students should aim for a minimum of three pros and three cons per stage/venue. Here’s an example:
Romeo & Juliet on a Thrust Stage PROS CONS
- Easy to create a large unit set.
- Can have a huge audience; lots of seating available around the stage.
- Reminiscent of Stratford Festival, which is a classic venue for this kind of show.
No need to create extensive sets if we use a venue that is already beautiful (i.e. university courtyard).
What if it rains?
Can be difficult to hear outside; actors will really have to project.
Do we need special permission and/or a permit to perform stage combat outdoors (could be perceived as violence)?
3. Once students have created their charts, each pair will join another pair (to make a group of four) and the groups will share their charts with each other as well as make suggestions and thoughts. Once each group has completed their discussions, students will complete an individual reflection.
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer, and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. Check out her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.