(No) curtains for you!
February 1, 2019 8:52 AM   Subscribe

What's the name for a theater set that is always exposed to the audience?

I'm writing a theater blog post about iconic set designs. While traditional shows have a curtain that raises and lowers to reveal and conceal a set, respectively, some productions allow the audience to see its set at all times and use a blackout to end scenes and/or acts. It seems like there should be a name for this type of always-visible set, but damned if I can find out what it is. Any clues?
posted by DrAstroZoom to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think theatre "in the round" might get you part of the way there - by design, seats completely surround the stage, so there is no place for curtains to really be "drawn" the way it is on a traditional stage.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 9:06 AM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

A typical black box theater wouldn't have a curtain.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:36 AM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Honestly to cover any general theatrical production regardless of where and how it is set, I'd simply use "curtainless". If it's a particular style of theatre (either the art, or the location) you refer to, it may be a given that it's curtainless. But I don't think there's another blanket way to refer to no curtain, regardless of architecture or mode.
posted by wellred at 9:39 AM on February 1, 2019

Best answer: Hi, I am a set designer, and a professor of technical theatre!
I don't have special word for this situation. It seems like you're only talking about a traditional theatre set up, with a large seating area and then a stage with a proscenium arch, which may or may not have a curtain that opens or raises. If I were describing this to someone, I would say something like "We're not using the main rag* in this show."
If it was a different setup, like 3/4 or in the round or black box, I wouldn't note the curtain situation at all, because curtains wouldn't be used in those in the first place.

*Main Rag= the curtain that conceals the set, right at behind the proscenium arch, which is the wall with a big hole in it that separates the audience from the stage. Main rag is sort of a slangy term, and it could also be called main curtain or show curtain.
posted by Adridne at 10:47 AM on February 1, 2019 [12 favorites]

Are you thinking of a thrust stage? Check the Stratford Festival Theatre for a glimpse of one. It is considered essential for Shakespeare's plays.
posted by Enid Lareg at 1:42 PM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Adridne: Thanks for that.

I've wondered if that had a name. I saw a performance of Richard Strauss' opera, "Intermezzo" that was staged in that way. A very simple set of a dining table and two chairs, and at scene end they'd go to blackout. I had never seen anything like that before or since. I enjoyed it very much.
posted by james33 at 4:28 AM on February 2, 2019

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