Stage Directions Cheat Sheet

Stage Directions

Stage directions are instructions given by the director or stage manager, or instructions in the text of a play. Stage directions indicates the positioning, movement, or tone of an actor, and can also include notes on sound effects, music, and lighting.


As a new stage actor, one of the first things you’ll need to learn is what to call the different parts of the stage. This is important because the director will give instructions to the actors on where the actors should place themselves on the stage in every scene. This also includes where and how the characters travel from one part of the stage to another. This is known as blocking.

Upstage, Downstage, Center

Theater stages used to be tilted downwards towards the audience. Because of this, the part of the stage closest to the audience is called downstage, and the part furthest from the audience is called upstage. Stage left and stage right are from the actor’s point of view.

Stage Directions with abbreviations

Write down stage directions in your script

When rehearsing, you should always keep your script and a pencil within reach, so you can write down the director or stage managers stage directions. Save time by memorizing and using the abbreviations:

Upstage right
Upstage Center
Upstage Left
Stage Right
Center Stage
Stage Left
Downstage Right
Downstage Center
Downstage Left

6 tips for new actors

1. Print out this Stage directions cheat sheet and memorize the abbreviations by hanging it somewhere you’ll see it regularly.

2. Use the abbreviations (USR, USC, USL etc.) to write in the script where to position yourself in each scene.

3. Keep your script and a pencil close by at rehearsal, so you can write down stage directions from the director or stage manager.

4. Mark your lines with a highlighter.

5. Write down your name on your script, so it doesn’t get lost.

6. It’s always better to rehearse your lines a little bit every day, than to spend two hours panicking before the rehearsal.

7. Have fun!!

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