DESIGN GUIDE: MUSIC AND DRAMA CENTERS
CHAPTER 3: THE STAGE
keeping. Additionally, materials used in the
2. Hearing Parameters
stagehouse or stored there shall be fire-retardant.
If a flyloft is built, the proscenium wall must have
a 2-hour fire rating and self-closing incombus-
Size/shape of enclosing shell (if any).
tible fire curtain, roof vents (at least 5% of floor
Nature of coupled volumes (if any).
area) activated by smoke and heat detectors, au-
tomatic sprinklers, and 2" diameter firehose
Absorptive properties of enclosure.
standpipes at each side. Sprinklers are required
Location of sound source relative to enclosure.
below the stage, too. If there is no flyloft (stage-
house ceiling less than five feet above proscen-
The corresponding functional elements depend
ium) no fire curtain is required.
on the use for which the Stage is designed. A
few categorical terms will be of help in compar-
Stage floors are designed for 125-150 psf live
ative treatments of stage types. Performing (act-
load, gridirons for 75 psf with head and loft block
ing) area is the portion of stage space meant to
beams designed for 250 plf. All permanent floor
be seen. The stage enclosure defines a volume
structure shall be non-combustible except the
contiguous with the stage space, communicat-
stage floor deck, which in almost all cases should
ing with the house. Together, these constitute
be white pine or fir softwood tongue and groove,
the bare minimum Open Stage. The stage floor
totalling 2" thick. It should have a matte finish
may be stepped or sloped ("raked"). If a wall
and be built in sections enabling repair and re-
divides the stage space from the house the open-
placement. This construction extends six feet
ing in it is the proscenium and the volume behind
past the proscenium offstage.
it is stagehouse.
B. FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS
For Music, an enclosure within the stagehouse
is a shell, its overhead extension into the house
The following are desirable Stage characteristics
a forestage canopy. If a portion of the remaining
for various performance types. Also refer to re-
stagehouse volume communicates with the
spective sketches and to detail data of Chapter
house, it is said to be coupled.
4 regarding special equipment and construction
criteria. Discussion here stresses key functions
For Drama, scene space surrounds the acting
and design rationale.
space, and is surrounded by working space
within the stagehouse-around, above or below.
1. Legitimate Drama
An open stage can have scene and working
The medium includes speech, action and scenic
space, but scenic material may not be withdrawn
context. The human figure is extremely impor-
vertically unless there is a proscenium wall and
tant; scenic illusion refers to this for dimensional
flyloft-i.e., a stagehouse-separable from the
scale. Dominant movement across the acting
audience house by a fire curtain closure. Be-
area, entering left and right, makes other entries
lowstage working space (trap room) must also
special events. Drama usually works through
be separated from the house except through the
proscenium. An orchestra pit communicates
developing events and situations; the ability to
with the house in front of the proscenium and
control changes in context, pace, center of at-
tention and atmospheric tone is essential.
The reader will find it necessary to refer to other
Performance Space: Acting area is approxi-
sections of this Guide for a more detailed treat-
mately 35' w x 20' d (40' x 25' usual maximum).
ment of some topics, such as performance ac-
This defines the downstage zone of most ac-
cessory equipment, environmental systems and
tion; however, the full stage depth is utilized.
access considerations. However, there are a few
It has a level floor that can be built upon, nor-
" n o o p t i o n " requirements that relate to stage-
mally 30-36" above front row of house. Traps
house construction especially. Safety is one;
are recommended in key acting area.
quantities of scene materials and fabrics sus-
pended over hot lights, wood flooring, rigging
Enclosure: A stagehouse is recommended,
lines, wiring and electrical equipment, power
with a proscenium portal 35' w x 26' (can be
tools, and a lot of independent activity makes
larger). Stagehouse configuration is related to
the theater stage a potentially hazardous region.
scene handling methods; flyloft is recom-
The best protection is alertness and goodhouse-