Musical Term of the Week
by Melissa Wimbish
Sometimes singers appear to be fish out of water when it comes to stage direction. I have been in dozens of rehearsals in which the director asked someone to simply, “Come downstage…no downstage…NO DOWNstage!” while the singer moved everywhere but downstage. Also, the phrase: “You’re upstaging yourself.” After a director tells you that and you nod your head in agreement, do you really understand what the heck they meant? This may seem rudimentary but it is perfectly normal to get mixed up occasionally so take a moment to review.
stage areas - The various sections of the stage. Left and right are as seen by those on stage, not in the audience. Since many stages are raked, that is higher in back than in front, upstage is at the back and downstage at the front. If an actor stays upstage, all the others have to turn their backs to the audience when speaking to him. This is the origin of the phrase “to upstage someone.” (Definition provided by Opera America)