A common term for laying out the various portions of a theater stage.

Stage directions refer to the stage in nine general areas. The 'left' and 'right' are from the perspective of the performer, not the audience. 'Upstage' is near the back of the stage, and 'downstage' is closer to the audience.

    upstage right      upstage center       upstage left
    stage right             stage center           stage left
    downstage right     downstage center     downstage left

To 'upstage' someone is to stand between them and the audience; they are then less visible. Many confuse this, and think that the edge near the audience is 'upstage'.

Stage directions are instructions the playwright leaves in the script for the actors, other than the dialogue. Depending on the writer's personal preference, these may be rendered in:

  • Italics
  • Bold
  • (Parentheses)
  • Just about anything else. It's generally clear from context what's a stage direction and what isn't.

Some actors or directors may chooes to ignore these directions: they are merely suggestions from the playwright on how best to perform the play.

Stage directions can tell the actor anything the author thinks is pertinent, not just blocking. For example:
GLORIA (sobbing): No, my dear! Don't leave me! (GLORIA collapses on the floor)
STEFAN is indifferent.
GLORIA: How could you be so cruel? (She hurls her book at STEFAN) I thought you loved me! Exit through upstage arch

As you may have noticed, stage directions actually often function just like emotes! So, you too can write a play: just pretend it's a chat room, and then later do a regex Find & Replace to fix the formatting.

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