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 it’s contents behind.
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.
There are several types of front curtains. The drape may part, rise, fold, drape or sink.
>The traveler curtain or draw curtain, is composed of two sections of curtain suspended from a traveler track, allowing the curtain to part in the middle and pull offstage into the wings. This type of grand drape is used when there is insufficient fly space to permit lifting the curtain, or when there is some design or visual value to having the drape move horizontally rather than vertically. Where the drapes meet in the center there must be an overlap of at least 12 inches to block any light leak. This curtain will always be sewn with fullness or pleating. There are many types of curtain tracks that can be used for this type of operation. Factors considered in the track selection will include weight of the drape, width of the drape and also whether it is curved or straight.
> The Fly Curtain is used in large theatres where there is a fly system – a cavity above the stage with a mechanical system to raise and lower objects – and when the production design calls for a vertical reveal of the stage and it’s contents. Decorative fabrics are most often chosen and a lining fabric is usually sewn to the back to assist with the opacity of the drape. Fly curtains are sewn as one complete drape that is larger than th