STM Studio Supplies by Professionals for Professionals
Home | Curtains | Stage Curtains
This is the typical stage layout for curtains and track to achieve a fully dressed stage.
Dimension and Fullness
In general, the larger the curtain dimensions, the greater the cost of the curtain. How you specify the "fullness" of a curtain can significantly change the amount of fabric required and therefore the cost.
Fullness is the extra fabric used to create the folds in a curtain. In the theatrical world, we speak of fullness as the added percentage of width pleated into the curtain. If you start as a baseline measurement at a flat curtain = 0% fullness, then 50% fullness is half as much again.
For example, a 10 metre wide curtain with 50% fullness, would start out at 15 metres wide and be pleated into the finished width.
When specifying fullness, always refer to the finished width of the curtain. The amount of fabric that needs to be added will be understood from the fullness percentage
The optimal fullness for a Main Curtain is 100% (2x the width pleated in), 75% will work, and 50% is adequate if that’s all that the budget will allow. A flat Main Curtain is not recommended.
Main Curtain Front of House
Can be of various types of material, usually decorative cloth. This curtain is intended to provide both a decorative cover for the proscenium opening and a means of blocking both light and sound from the stage during the presetting of a show and/or scene changes during the show. In fabric and colour the front of house curtain should enhance the appearance of the auditorium and coordinate with the seating, carpeting and architectural details
Valance or Pelmet
A curtain used to reduce the height of the proscenium opening to balance and satisfy the sight lines. A pelmet border that matches the front of house curtain is most desirable.
These require careful planning to ensure complete masking of rigging, tracking systems and lighting configurations from audience view. The drop or height of borders will vary according to individual stage sight lines.
Used to divide the stage into sections. Used when a smaller stage area is desirable for more intimate performances.
Backdrop Curtains Cycloramas and Scrims
Rear of stage curtains are usually black to match the other stage masking and are used for a partial or a complete mask of the rear of stage from the audience. Cycloramas can be used in conjunction with the back stage curtains for a variety of lighting and staging effects. These are often used as a surface with a colour flood or as a neutral cloth if required in lieu of black masking curtains and may be a sharks tooth scrim.
A scrim curtain, lit only from the rear, becomes translucent and is used for shadow and special effects. When the scrim is lit from the front, it becomes opaque and is often used as a backdrop. In order to be effective, scrim curtains must be sewn without interior seams. The scrim is often placed in the mid stage area for special effect purposes. In order to be most effective, careful lighting placement and choice of fixtures is essential.
Backdrops and scrims are often painted for effects or scenery. Backdrops and scrims which are going to be painted should be fabricated from plain, not flame retardant treated,
Backdrops can be painted over several times using scenic paints. Scrims usually cannot be repainted. Backdrops are available both seamed and seamless. When seams are used, the preferred arrangement for the seams is horizontal. The horizontal seams allow the eye to travel across the curtain without the interruptions of vertical lines. Seamless Backdrops are more expensive, but a seamless curtain provides the best surface for lighting and allows for more realistic effects.
Are also known as tormentors and tabs and are placed down each side of stage to mask the stage sides from audience view. They also provide unseen entrance and exits channels for performers from wing space to main stage. These can be mounted on swivel brackets allowing the angle to be changed as required and can provide a forced perspective or creating a narrower stage.
False / Adjustable Proscenium
On occasions a teaser and a pair of tormentors may be used to reduce the proscenium size to suit a set. A teaser is border curtain usually hung directly upstage of the main curtain. Tormentors are vertical legs located on both sides of the proscenium behind the teaser. Teaser and tormentors can be supplied as curtains or as rigid flats if permanently installed on adjustable rigging.
Sight lines depict the width of leg curtains and drop, or finished length, of the border and valance curtains required to fully conceal all roof rigging, tracking systems and lighting from audience view. Sight lines are as viewed from the auditorium, usually considered from eye level at the extremities of front row seating.
The following diagrams are a reference to how curtains, when properly constructed in sizes appropriate to sight line requirements, totally mask of all unwanted areas from audience view.