Movement on the stage

Movement expresses ideas and conveys messages to an audience. Objective of this post is to look at movement technically, creatively, and with motivation, by using your bodies and movement to tell a story and encouraging the fact that not all stories need to be told with speaking.

When writing the script of the drama it is necessary to write guidelines of the movement. For that it is necessary to identify the acting space and planning according to it. Usually, we see the Proscenium TheatreStage for stage dramas. The proper planning of major actor movements called Blocking. For example: entering the stage and exiting, moving one place to another with a meaning. As mentioned before: not all stories need to be told with speaking; it can be done by properly planned movement of the stage.

Read the basics of theatre dramas here.

Stage Directions:

In order that a director may designate an actor’s position onstage precisely. The acting portion of the stage is divided into areas:

Stage Right: The actor’s right as he stands onstage facing the audience.

Stage Left: The actor’s left as he stands onstage facing the audience.

Downstage: Toward the audience.

Upstage: Away from the audience.

Below: Toward the audience. Same as “Downstage of.”

Above: Away from the audience. Same as “Upstage of.”

In: Toward the center of the stage.

Out: Away from the center of the stage.


Stage Directions Abbreviations

X- to cross to another area of the stage

C- Center Stage - midway between front and back, up and down, right and left

DS Down Stage - The area closest to the apron in the center of the stage

US Up Stage - The area closest to the back of the stage in the center

R Stage Right- in the center to the right of the actor

L Stage Left - in the center to the left of the actor

DR Down Stage Right - The area closest to the audience to the right of the actor

DL Down Stage Left - The area closest to the audience to the left of the actor

UR Up Stage Right - The area closest to the back wall to the right of the actor

UL Up Stage Left - The area closest to the back wall to the right of the actor


Stage Areas:

Apron: The segment of the stage in front of the main curtain.

DSR: The strongest area of the stage. In our culture, we read left to right. The innate

habit is to look left first when in the audience, then survey the rest of the stage. The

audience left is stage right. Downstage is stronger than upstage, because it's closer

to the audience.

Onstage: That part of the stage enclosed by the setting which is visible to the audience in

any particular scene.

Plane: A segment of the stage running the full width or depth, as in "the downstage


Offstage/Backstage: All parts of the stage not enclosed by the setting.

Wings: the offstage areas to the right and left of the acting area.

Out-front/House: the auditorium where the audience sits.


Major Stage Movements.

Entrances (= Ent)

You should get into character BEFORE the entrance. Begin your entrance in the wings. At least 5 to 6 feet away. Focus in the Wings before you make your stage entrance.

Exits (= Ex)

Remain in character until you are 5-6 feet into the offstage area. If the exit requires a long cross, make sure the last few lines are spoken near the exit.

Crosses (= X)

Stage Crosses means movements from one stage area to another. Generally, the actor takes the shortest, most direct route, which is a straight cross. Straight crosses convey strength and determination (strong). At times a curved cross is necessary to convey casualness, hesitation, or doubt (weak).

Take “strong” crosses downstage (below) other actors, “weak” crosses upstage (above). Most crosses are made downstage (below) of the standing character and upstage (above) seated characters. “Strong” and “weak” crosses are determined by the purpose of the movement and the lines spoken. The shortest distance between two points is usually the best guide for a cross. A cross can be softened by moving in a curved pattern. Curved crosses can be used to convey a casual approach, hesitation, or doubt.

Counter-Cross (= coX)

To counter is to move from behind someone so one person will not be blocked by another.Actors adjust to each other’s cross by using a counter-cross. A counter-cross is a movement in the opposite direction to balance stage picture

Crossing on a Line

If you are speaking and must cross the stage, walk in front of the other characters. It is generally best to avoid moving when another character is talking, as your movement you will steal attention from the speaking actor. If you need to cross when others are speaking, cross quietly behind them. Keep in mind; The moving figure dominates! 

Turning (= ∞)

Always turn toward the audience unless your director tells you otherwise. Read about body positions on the stage.


Backing Up (=ß)

This is a weak move and should be avoided unless the move backward makes a dramatic point.


Sitting (=Š)

Approach the piece of furniture without staring at it. Don’t telegraph the move. Stop in front of chair touch BOTH calves to the chair without moving it. Avoid plopping or slumping into an easy chair or sofa (unless your character would do so). Sit near the front edge of the chair to make rising easier. Avoid crossing your legs onstage. Females sit with ankles crossed or one foot slightly in front of the other males sit with legs slightly apart.


Kneeling (= K)

When kneeling with only one knee. The downstage knee should touch the floor, helping to keep an “open” position. When kneeling on both knees, the downstage knee should be lowered first; then the upstage leg can be lowered into position.



 An actor is said to be covered when another actor moves into a position between him and the audience, thus obstructing him from view. Covering is usually to be avoided. These principles and practices are generally to be observed:

1. The responsibility is on the downstage actor. In other words, do not stand in front of another actor.

2. If another actor does stand directly below you, make a small adjusting movement.

3. Since a moving actor usually should receive attention, make crosses below other actors so you are not covered. This rule does not apply if the moving actor should not receive attention.


Movement of the stage is a major area if you are serious about the quality of the drama you stage. Prior planning not only makes the play technically advanced but also easier for the actors to understand their movement on the stage.

If you have any doubt or things to clarify, let us discuss them in the comment section below. Subscribe to the blog to receive new posts right into your mailbox; do not forget to share the post.

Post a Comment