Elements of Drama: Space

The Lighthouse, photo by Mark Gambino

Space in Drama

The element of Space in Drama means:

The performance and audience area. Space involves the way the performance area is used to communicate meaning, define settings, represent status and create actor and audience relationships.

- SA Department of Education Drama resources, 2021

Space and Patch Theatre

Space is very important in Patch Theatre’s work. In our theatre shows, we use lighting, sound and stage design to make the space itself just as magical as what the performers are doing. Sometimes the theatre space becomes a character in its own right! We also create interactive installations, where the space itself is a work of art.

Stage directions

Have you heard terms like ‘upstage’ and ‘stage right’? Do you know what they mean?

Areas of the stage are named from the perspective of a performer facing the audience.  If you are an actor, standing in the centre of the stage facing the audience:

  • Stage right is on your right (the audience’s left)

  • Stage left is on your left (the audience’s right)

  • Downstage is in front of you – towards the audience

  • Upstage is behind you – towards the back of the stage

Performers can also use horizontal and vertical space onstage!

Performers using vertical space – I Wish… photo by Andrew Beveridge

Drama Game: Upstage, Downstage, Take a Bow

  • First, define a stage space and audience area.

  • Everyone starts at centre stage

  • One person calls out stage directions (Upstage Left! Downstage right! Centre stage! etc.)

  • Everybody runs to that area of the stage

  • Whoever arrives last (or goes the wrong way) is ‘out’ and sits in the ‘audience’

  • Additional directions

    • Steal the Scene – everyone heads downstage, jostles for the front and strikes a dramatic pose.

    • Hide – everyone heads upstage and tries to hide behind each other

    • Take a Bow – everyone lines up across the stage, facing the audience. Count to three together and try to bow at the same time!

Mirror Mirror, photo by Play & Go

Interactive Installations

Not all of Patch Theatre’s work is shown in traditional theatre spaces. We also create immersive environments full of amazing things to see, hear and even touch. These are called interactive installations.

The audience are inside the art space rather than watching from the outside. Instead of sitting in seats, they can move through the environment and participate in their own way.

Have you ever visited an interactive installation?
What was the space like? What did you do there?

Mirror Mirror, photo by Andrew Beveridge

Some of our installations, like The Lighthouse, feature actors, musicians and singers who bring the space to life. The performers and the space are equally important. In other installations, like Mirror Mirror and Sea of Light, the space itself is the work of art. Visitors are invited to engage with the space and create their own unique experience.

This kind of art is accessible to everyone from tiny babies in arms to kids, teenagers and grown-ups too. Not everyone can sit still in a theatre for an hour… and even those who can, don’t always want to! Moving through an installation space is an active experience of curiosity and wonder.

Space in The Lighthouse…

The Lighthouse is an interactive performance installation. Across a series of immersive, connected spaces, young people and their adults are invited to explore the endless wonders of light.

Watch the trailer for The Lighthouse

  • Describe some of the spaces in this video.
    What did you see? (Lights on the floor, shining bubbles, darkness etc…)

  • Did you see any performers? What did they look like? What were they doing?

  • Who do you think was the audience? Where were they? What were they doing?
    What would you do if you were there?

  • Think of an amazing space that you have been in.
    What did it look like, sound like, smell like? What made it special?

More activities to try

Shadow Tableaux Create shadow tableaux in groups, capturing scenes and exploring relationships.
Try It
Storytime with Temeka: The Dark Temeka reads The Dark by Lemony Snicket
Try It
Shadow Drawing Create artworks of your favourite toys using their shadows!
Try It