You say “right”, I say “stage left”

in kamullen, planning tips
August 10th, 2011

Communication is the key to preparing any good event, but it is important that everyone involved is speaking the same language.  As the manager of the Tsai Performance Center, I interact with both theatre or artsy types as well as event planners or non-artsy types.  Both equally great, but often using different terms for the same thing. 

Consider this simple request:  “Setup 3 chairs on the left.” 

Hmmm.  Do they mean 3 chairs on the stage left side, which is the right side if you are in the audience looking at the stage?  Or they mean the left side of the stage if you are standing onstage looking at the audience, which would be stage right?  And did you know that Stage Left usually equals Camera Right and vice versa? It can be confusing.  Depending on what you are used to, it’s easy to “mis-hear” the information.  Always consider who is giving the information and CLARIFY it. 

Post-It diagramWhat works the best to clarify?  Draw it out.  Some people shy away from doing setup drawings because they have to hand-draw them or they won’t be in scale or they need some fancy computer program to make them.  Not true!  Sketching out a stage setup, however sloppy, can insure that everyone is saying the same thing and valuable setup time isn’t wasted.  If you are the person providing setup information to others, make sure you are consistent with terminology and try to include a diagram to compliment your instructions.  On a side note, if you are meeting in person, I’ve found that lots of hand gestures pointing to the area you think they mean also works pretty well. 


Left/ Right as seen from the person’s point of view on stage looking out to the audience. (ie Stage Left is the right side of the stage when looking from the auditorium.)

Left / Right as seen from the camera person’s point of view in the audience.  (ie Camera Left is the left side of the stage when looking from the auditorium to the stage.)