Different Kinds Of Theater Architecture

There are many types of theater architecture and the most popular kinds have different effects on the way the audience is allowed to see the performance.

The art of theater is one of the oldest and most popular forms of entertainment. Productions can be small, simple affairs involving a few actors and props, or they can be large, using dozens of performers, elaborate sets, and huge audiences. One element common to all productions is the environment in which the actors perform. Theaters use many types of stages for different productions and the different kinds of architecture can have a great effect on how the audience perceives the action.

The proscenium, or picture-frame, stage is the most commonly used. This theater is named for the proscenium arch at the front of the stage through which the audience views the performance. All action takes place behind the arch and a curtain can be used to hide the area from view of the audience for scene changes.

The extended apron, or thrust, stage projects out into the audience past the proscenium arch. The actors can move either in front or behind the arch, or perform exclusively in front of it. Because there is no curtain, scenery is either changed quickly or not at all.

The three-sided arena extends far enough into the audience that the side seats are turned to face the stage. All action must be on the projected area; otherwise part of the audience would be prevented from seeing it. The scenery is done much the same as with the extended apron stage.

The full arena is created when the audience surrounds the stage on all sides. The actors are allowed more natural movement, not having to focus on an exclusive direction. Scenery must be kept to a minimum to prevent obstructing the view for the audience and scenery can only be changed by moving the pieces up the isles between the audience.

An amphitheater is an open-air structure with tiers of seats surrounding a central area. The seats can curve around the front of the area, as in most musical amphitheaters, or surround it completely, as in the Roman Coliseum.

The black box theater consists of a large rectangular room, usually painted black or another neutral color, with seats on one side for the audience and a space for the actors to perform in front of them. Scenery and props are minimized to allow the audience to focus completely on the actors and their performance without distraction.

These are generally regarded as the most popular types of theaters, having held the most performances and enjoyed popularity as means of presenting drama. There are, however, many more less widely known stages, from complex structures of many leveled mazes to simple open areas in fields and empty parking lots. It's all a matter of finding the right place for the right piece.

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