Theatrical Curtains

Types of Stage Curtains


Front-of-House curtain (main curtain) is the visual and sound barrier between the audience and the stage. The most common type of main curtain is a bi-parting curtain i.e. a pair of curtains that overlap and split at the centre of the stage, and open to the sides. The main curtain is usually manufactured from heavy weight velvet or wool.

Valance curtain is a horizontal masking curtain usually made from the same material as the front-of-house and is suspended on a batten in front of the main curtain. Masking curtains are used to hide the off-stage areas, divide the stage, and provide access to the main stage area.

Masking curtains include Borders, Tabs and Legs (wing curtains)

  • Border curtains are curtains that conceal lights and other equipment above the stage. Their size is usually determined by sight lines.
  • Intermediate tabs (tab curtains) are stage curtains used to divide the stage into smaller sections. They can also be used to hide equipment and backdrops at the rear of the stage.
  • Leg Curtains (wing curtains) are used to hide the side of the stage from the audience's view. They also provide concealed wings for actors to enter and exit the stage.

Backdrop curtains are usually manufactured from a seamless cotton fabric and they provide a scenic element to the stage. The seamless cotton is available in widths of up to 10 metres and is suitable for painting.

Floor cloths can be manufactured in seamless 6 oz canvas or a heavy-duty 12 oz canvas with seams.

Cycloramas are backdrops at the rear of the stage and are used primarily for lighting and projection purposes. They are generally manufactured from a white seamless Filled Cloth or white Nessel canvas.

Gauzes are open weave fabrics that when lit from the front (and the stage behind the gauze is totally dark), the gauze appears opaque and renders the scene behind the gauze invisible. When the scene behind the gauze is illuminated and the front lights on the gauze are dimmed, the gauze becomes invisible, revealing the upstage scene. The most common type of gauze used in Australia is called sharkstooth gauze.


Eastside Arts                                                            Pittwater High School

Curtain Stacking Space Calculator

If you have limited space either side of the area where you want to hang your curtain, here's a handy tool to see how much space your curtain will take up once it's "stacked" (or fully open).  There are different options for Single Curtains, Hand Drawn Curtains and Cord Pulley Drawn Curtains.

Download the Curtain Stacking Space Calculator.

Need your curtains cleaned?

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Are you using curtains close to lights and other heat sources? Protect yourself against fire!

See here for more information about fire retardant curtains.