You hear terms like “upstage” and “stage right,” but if you are a novice to the theatre, you may not understand exactly where those locations are on the stage.  Well, here is a brief primer on stage location terms.

Areas of the stage are based on if you are facing the audience.  So, if you are an actor, standing in the center of the stage facing the audience, stage right would be on your right  (the audience’s left).  Downstage would be in front of you, Upstage would be behind you.  Still confused?  Take a look at this diagram.


So, Stage Right and Stage Left make sense.  But why Upstage and Downstage?  The terminology comes from the days in which the audience seats were on a flat floor and the stage was tilted (razed) toward the audience, so that everyone on the audience floor could see the performance.  So, the area of the stage closest to the audience was the lowest part of the stage (hence, “downstage”), and the stage floor gradually angled upward toward the back wall of the stage, to the highest part of the stage (“upstage”).  Today, of course, the audience floor is angled and the stage floor is flat, but the terms “downstage” and “upstage” remain.

Hope this clarifies things a little for you!