I thought I’d start a regular feature called “Focus On,” in which I’ll post information on the various types of stage curtains out there, as well as other related products. Today I’ll start with the front curtain.
The front curtain – known also as the grand drape, act curtain or house curtain – hangs just upstage of the proscenium arch and is used to close the acting area from the audience’s view when the acting area is not supposed to be seen. The Grand Drape is typically part of the formal opening of a stage production – the house lights dim, the audience settles and the grand drape is removed from the scene revealing the stage and its contents behind.
There are several types of front curtains. The drape may part, rise, fold, drape or sink. The different types of front curtains include:
Brail / Austrian Curtain
Tab (aka Tableau) Curtain
The type of front curtain that a theatre or show decides to use is based on a number of factors, including whether there is fly space above or stacking space on the sides, as well as on the appearance that is desired. I’ll discuss each of these types of front curtains in detail in future posts.
Interesting theatre fact: Historically, ” grand drape” referred to the most downstage drape that would be raised to become the main teaser just downstage of the act curtain. Current theatre scenarios however have led to the main teaser being a permanently mounted valance, and the act curtain is now known as, and acts as, the grand drape.