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Exit, Stage Left

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If you’ve ever worked on a stage, read or wrote a script, or have ever watched the Hanna-Barbera cartoon featuring the wanna-be stage actor, Snagglepuss, you’ve most likely have heard the phrase, “Exit, Stage Left”. But what exactly does that term mean?


Here’s a quick glossary of stage terms that describe the locations and directions in a theater. Many of these terms actually come from the descriptions of stage actions in a play script.

HOUSE LEFT: the left side of the auditorium from the spectator’s viewpoint facing the stage; toward or at the left side of the auditorium from the spectator’s viewpoint facing the stage. Also known as Front House Left or Rear House Left.


HOUSE RIGHT: the right side of the auditorium from the spectator’s viewpoint facing the stage; toward or at the right side of the auditorium from the spectator’s viewpoint facing the stage. Also known as Front House Right or Rear House Right.


STAGE LEFT: the left side of the stage from the actor’s viewpoint facing the audience; toward or at the left side of the stage from the actor’s viewpoint facing the audience.


STAGE RIGHT: the left side of the stage from the actor’s viewpoint facing the audience; toward or at the left side of the stage from the actor’s viewpoint facing the audience.


DOWNSTAGE: the part of the stage nearest the audience; toward or at the front part of the stage, nearest the audience. Often used in conjunction with Left or Right: Downstage Left, Downstage Right.


UPSTAGE: the part of the stage farthest from the audience; toward or at the rear part of the stage, farthest from the audience. Often used in conjunction with Left or Right: Upstage Left, Upstage Right.


OFFSTAGE: away from the stage center; toward or at the part of the stage that is out of view of the audience. Often used in conjunction with Left or Right: Offstage Left, Offstage Right.


ONSTAGE: toward the stage center; toward or in the part of the stage that is in view of the audience.


OUT: away from the stage floor and toward the gridiron, referring to vertical movement of scenery, etc.


IN: toward the stage floor, referring to vertical movement of scenery, etc.


Source: Theatre Projects Consultants

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