Stage Location and View Angles
You have chosen the perfect venue for your event! Now you need to decide on the location of your focal point, or centre of attention. In this case, your centre of attention is a performance. Ideally, the performers will be situated on a stage, and so the stage should be located in a distraction-free space. Avoid high traffic areas, such as entrances, bathrooms, or kitchens. This can distract from the focal point of your event and take the attention away from your audience.
In turn, your audiences experience should be effortless. If you have lunch/dinner entertainment with tables set up in the room, try to leave the seat with its back to the stage empty. In truth, one less guest at the table is better than one unhappy guest because they had to keep turning to see the stage. On the other hand, should the stage be set up for a background band or DJ to create ambience, a more inconspicuous area of the room is more suitable. The band or DJ may not like it, but it’s not about them, it is about the guest experience!
Staging size is just as important as the position. You don’t want an 8-piece band on a 3m x 2m stage – they are musicians not contortionists!
Here are some starting points to choose the right size:
A small stage area could be all you need if you are only having one performer/speaker at a time. A 2m x 2m or 2m x 3m may be enough if they are using the stage for a presentation or demonstration. Remember, just because the stage is small does not mean you do not need steps.
A medium size stage, say a 5m x 4m or 6m x 4m or 6m x 3m, is perfect if you have multiple people performing. For example; a four-piece band, or a panel discussion with a table of up to six to eight guests. Similarly, medium stages would also suit a bridal table for a wedding, although you may want to consider a white finish.
Large stages are perfect for bigger or even smaller events where a big band is performing, like an orchestra or a choir. In turn, the best solution for a dance performance where you have multiple performers on stage at any given time, similarly to outdoor concerts or indoor theatre performances. Over the years I have found that many schools prefer large stages like 12m x 10m. They want to be able to have one class at a time on stage, and large stages make for easier transitions from one class performance to another. For these stage sizes, don’t forget to consider two sets of steps. Large stages demand attention, and create an impressive focus for even solo performances. DJs or those big comedian egos utilise large stages for flamboyance and effect!
Wheelchair Access, Steps and Safety
From time to time you will be required to supply a ramp for wheelchair access. Consequently, there are strict guidelines on the angle ratio, length vs height and minimum width. To start, these are Australian standards, other countries may have different regulations. In Australia the maximum gradient of a ramp, with a length greater than 1900mm, is to be no greater than 1:14. For example, if your stage is 400mm high, the ramp needs to be at least 5.6m long.
Don’t forget about the steps, as per the ramps, there are minimum requirements as per Australian standards. You can find all documentation on SaiGlobal website https://www.saiglobal.com/.
Another thing to consider is a landing area and handrail requirements. Your staging suppliers will be aware of all the regulations and will be able to make sure all is done as per Australian standards.
Make sure that your stage company supplier has all the certifications, engineering and licenses to build the stage you want, the last thing you want at your event is something like what happened at the USA Indiana state fair, check out this link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_State_Fair_stage_collapse.
Stage Shape and Colour
The shape of your stage will largely depend on the entertainment you plan to have. Should you have a speaker front and centre, a wider rather than a deeper stage would work better. Alternatively, for a band you may consider a deeper stage to be able to fit the full ensemble. For fashion shows, you may think about a “catwalk” – more or less like an inverted ‘T’. Commonly catwalks are raised for the models and the crowd is seated on the sides and at the front. For creativity sake, perhaps consider doing it the opposite way. The models walk at ground height and raise all the crowd seating “theatre” style. This would make your event even more memorable and break convention!
Indicative of breaking convention, I have experienced many non-conventional settings. On the top of fountains, at water level inside a swimming pool, on sandy beaches, and moving trams just to mention few! Additionally, something different could also be a round stage or 360* viewing. The most famous round stage set up I can re-call is a video of the King “Elvis” in 1974 when he performed for a small crowd. If you considering something like this, make sure you speak to your AV supplier. They will have to come up with a solution to cover the 360* audience.
Enjoy the Process!
At the end of the day, if you imagine it, your professional stage builder will be able to build it…. the only constraint I can see is budget!!!!
Enjoy your event, love what you do, and always make sure whatever you do, you do it safely!
For more staging options and free advice, contact the team at RTR Productions. Our staging and rigging experts are here to help. Alternatively, visit www.rtrproductions.com.au to learn more about RTR production services, including lighting and audio-visual equipment.