Typical Box or Composite Set

This diagram represents a typical box set. It is a domestic setting, with most of the stage area taken up by a lounge with furniture, and a fireplace stage left. Upstage right are French windows, just behind which are three pieces of scenic groundrow representing a garden wall. Further upstage is a cyclorama for a sky background. Upstage left, beyond the door is a hallway with an interior backing. The designer has left space behind the set to access the stage from both sides.

A composite set would represent more than one room, for example, it might also show the kitchen next to the lounge.

Diagram of a Box Set
Diagram of a Box Set

The angles between the flats representing the walls are almost never right angles, unlike a real house. If the walls each side were at right angles to the front edge of the stage some of the audience would not be able to see the walls or anything on them. Making them angle slightly inwards means that people sitting on the stage left side can just see the stage left wall, those on the stage right can just see the stage right wall. The audience will not usually be aware of these odd angles.

Acting Considerations

The director has chosen this layout to allow for a variety of different groupings of the actors. It also gives the actors room to move about the stage freely, there are clear routes for the action to flow. Most of the activity would probably be around the settee, by the fire or at the desk.

An interesting grouping could be achieved with one actor sat at the desk and another on the settee. As they would appear to almost have their backs to one another, the actor on the settee could lean over the stage right end of the settee, or even sit on the arm. The actor at the desk could write or use a telephone, leaning on the stage left arm of the chair to speak to the other actor.

Sight Lines

You need to be aware of sight lines, these are the extreme edges of the stage area visible to the audience. The backing and cyclorama must extend far enough to hide anything the audience is not supposed to see.

  • A person sitting in the seat on the front row at the far stage right side of the stage (red blob) must not be able to see past the door (upstage-left) to the backstage area.
  • A person sitting on the front row at the far stage left (green blob) should not be able to see anything backstage through the French windows (upstage right) nor the door (upstage-left).

Diagram showing sight lines for a Box Set

Diagram showing sight lines for a Box Set

The furniture has been omitted from this diagram for clarity

These are not the only seat positions you should check, make sure you try other seats throughout the auditorium.