Stage Blocking Notation Made Simple




From this Stage Blocking Notation page you can find out about Stage Directions, Stage Combat, Stage Props and Blocking A Scene. Simply click on the links at the bottom of this page.





Stage Blocking Notation and Abbreviations are not just for stage directors and stage management but must be used and understood by every actor. During the course of play rehearsal each scene is "blocked" by the director thus providing each actor with choreographed movement. This is one of the methods a director employs to convey the meaning of the play to the audience.

It is the actor's responsibility to make sure that he understands the movement as prescribed by the director. Additionally, an actor makes note of what she is told to do by keeping a written record. This is usually done by penciling into the script the directions they are given. The penciling part is important because, in most instances, any marks made in a script should be erasable.

During "Blocking" Rehearsals most actors use a form of shorthand to indicate and remember where, when, how, and with whom they are to navigate their character. If written correctly, for the most part, the abbreviations are universal and can be understood by anyone reading a particular character's script. Should an actor have to leave a show for any reason, it is their notation that will help the next actor coming in as a replacement. Abbreviations also allow the actor to make their notes quickly which, in turn, allows them to pay better attention to the director and what is going on in the scene.

The stage manager, in most productions, uses the same Stage Blocking Notation and Abbreviations as the cast. This is helpful because as each unit is rehearsed, the stage manager keeps the official record of what is desired by the director in the "Prompt Book". In the absence of the director, this record is the ultimate reference used to answer questions and resolve discrepancies.

It is very important that both the cast and stage manager always keep up to date records of any changes the director makes during the rehearsal process.

What follows is a list of some of the more common abbreviations used by many actors.

  • Stage Left (SL)
  • Upstage (US)
  • Stage Right (SR)
  • Downstage (DS)
  • Cross (X)
  • Center Stage (CS)
  • Off Stage (OS)
  • Down Center (DC)
  • Up Center (UC)
  • Enter (Ntr)
  • Kneel (Kn)


Combinations of these abbreviations are also very useful to know. Here are just a few.

  • Downstage Right (DSR)
  • Downstage Left (DSL)
  • Downstage Center (DSC)
  • Upstage Right (USR)
  • Upstage Left (USL)
  • Upstage Center (USC)


  • For a additional information on stage blocking, stage blocking notation and a professional understanding of stage management may I suggest .... For more information just click on the title below

    Stage Management

    by Lawrence Stern

    From the Back Cover of Stage Management - The “bible” in the field, Stage Management is a practical manual on how to stage manage in all theater environments. Full of practical aids—checklists, diagrams, examples, forms, and step-by-step directions—this book has been used and admired by students and theater professionals alike. It eschews excessive discussion of philosophy and, instead, gets right to the essential materials and processes of putting on a production. In addition to sharing his own expertise, Stern has gathered practical advice from working stage managers of Broadway, off-Broadway, touring companies, regional, community, and 99-seat Equity waiver theaters.



    Blocking A Scene
    Stage Directions
    Stage Props
    Stage Combat
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