Body Positions on the Theatre Stage.

Body positions apply to the actor as he faces the audience. Not only do actors need to be familiar with where to go on stage, they also need to know how to position their bodies to create the desired effect in the play.


Full front

The actor faces directly front. This position is used for important lines. This is mostly used to present monologues, asides to the audience.

One quarter (1/4)

The body is a quarter turn away from the audience, Right or Left at a 45-degree angle. This position is the most frequently used when two actors share a scene, for it places each of their bodies so that the audience can easily see them, in this position.

To achieve the 1/4 left or 1/4 right position, just move one of your legs more upstage (toward the back wall) then the other. This forces your body to turn a bit.

When two performers "share" a scene on stage (they are both open to an equal degree), this is generally the position they will take. If they faced full front, and talked to each other while looking straight out to the audience, well that would not look "natural" (Although sometimes, an unnatural look might be the desired effect. Nothing in acting is set in stone.) If they turned and faced each other directly (profile) they would look "natural" but they would not be seen or heard very well by the audience. So when two actors "share" a scene, they will usually assume the 1/4 position. Although this position does not look totally natural, it is a theatre convention readily accepted by the audience. The trick is to be open enough to still be seen and heard well, but to be turned enough toward the other performer to appear to be looking at each other.



Two actors face each other directly with the upstage foot advanced slightly toward center. This position is used for intense scenes such as quarreling, accusing, romancing, etc. It is sometimes used to obtain comic effects.

Profile is not a particularly strong position because the audience members in the far left or right of the "house" (the audience area) will only see the back of the performer who is facing away from them. They will also have a harder time hearing and understanding them. Unless there is some specific dramatic reason you need to be in profile, you should strive for more "open" positions.


Three quarter (3/4)

The actor turns away from the audience so that they see three quarters of his back and only one quarter of his face. This position is used when it is necessary for an actor to "give” a scene, or turn all attention to another actor upstage who “takes" the scene.


Full back

 The actor stands with his back to the audience. This position is used only in special cases.



The term applied when one actor takes a position above another actor which forces the second actor to face upstage, or away from the audience. Since the downstage actor is put at a disadvantage, “upstaging” has an unpleasant connotation and is generally to be avoided. You should take positions on the exact level of the actor with whom you are playing. Learn neither intentionally nor unintentionally to upstage another actor unless you are directed to do so.

Notice that the one quarter, three quarter, and profile positions can be turned toward the right or left. For example, one quarter right would be when the actor assumes the one quarter position with his body slightly facing the right.


Open Position

An “open” position is one in which the actor is facing toward the audience, or nearly so. To “open” is to turn toward the audience. Since effective communication requires that the actor be seen and heard, he must-without sacrificing believability-keep himself as “open’ as possible. You should follow these practices unless there is reason for doing otherwise:

1. Play shared scenes in a quartered position.

2. Make turns downstage.

3. Do not cover yourself or other actors in making gestures or passing objects. In other

4. Kneel on the downstage knee.


Closed Position

A “closed” position is one in which the actor is turned away from the audition. To “close in” is to turn away from the audience.


Give, take

When two actors are not equally “open” and one receives a greater emphasis than the other, the actor emphasized is said to take the scene. The other is said to give the scene.

Body positions play a major role in theatre drama as it helps the character and the audience to project and perceive the message in the drama. Using correct body position not only enhance the level of the drama as well as the voice projection. Therefore, they must be used with a meaning to get the maximum out of a character.

If you have ideas and experiences related to body positions, let’s share them with our readers. If you have any questions regarding this, let us know by commenting below.


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