All the curtains together are known as "soft goods
". Individually they have specific names. For this article I am assuming you are in a Proscenium
Just behind the proscenium wall you will often find a Fire Curtain
. This curtain is made of Asbestos
(or a modern replacement, like Zetex
) and is designed to fall in case of a fire to prevent fires on stage
from spreading into the audience.
The next curtain you will find is a curtain very high up in the air that goes the width of the stage. This curtain is called the Teaser
Valance. It is probably the least used curtain in the inventory. Its purpose is to lower down and hide the top of the Grand Drape and all the other curtains that follow. It is used when you want to "lower the trim
" of the stage, make the entire stage appear a little shorter. Very elaborate ones are often dead-hung and non-adjustable.
The main front curtain, which is usually a colored heavy velour
curtain, has many names. Some of them are: the Grand Drape, Grand, Main, "Main Rag
" or "Grand Rag". Sometimes the Grand has a valance
or short curtain that runs across the top to hide the track
. Sometimes the teaser does this job.
Just behind (or occasionally in front) of the Grand Drape you will often find a hard flats, framed in wood or metal, covered with fabric, usually black velour. These are called Tormentors, Torms, Hard Torms or Hard Legs
. They run all the way down to the stage deck. They are typically on a track so that they can easily slide on and off stage. Similar to the teaser, the purpose of the torms is to make the stage smaller; only in this case we are reducing the width of the stage.
Behind the torms you will find a set of curtains that repeats it self several times. First there is a long curtain that hangs high over head and runs the width of the stage. This is a border
. It defines the height of the space and hides the lights and scenery stored in the fly loft. Just behind the border you will find a set of legs. A leg
is a tall narrow curtain on each side of the stage. These are there to mask entrances and define the width of the stage. Legs and borders are numbered in order starting with the most down stage
being 1st Leg or 1st Border. Legs and borders are typically black.
At about center stage there is usually a MidStage-Traveler
. This is a curtain on a track which opens and closes. At the top it will sometimes have a Valance.
There are several possible curtains you will find at the extreme upstage of the stage. There may be a cyclorama
" which is a large flat
curtain used to project lights on to create scenic effects. Cycs are typically white or unbleached, "natural" muslin
, but also come in Blue and Gray. You may find an upstage traveler used to hide the cyc or other back drops.
In the wings of a theater farther off stage than the legs you will find a set of curtains that run from front to back perpendicular to the legs. These curtains are called side tabs or "tabs". They are there to ensure the audience can not see back stage.
One more special curtain to consider is a scrim
. A scrim is a special piece of fabric sewn more like a mesh or net than a typical fabric. There are hundreds of holes per square foot
of scrim. The pattern
used creates interesting visual effects. A black scrim when properly lit from the front appears to be a solid curtain. A white scrim when placed in front of the action and lit well from behind produces a wonderful dream like effect
. When lit from behind it becomes see through. It isn't 100% opaque or 100% invisible but when properly lit (and with a second curtain, BOC
, that you remove at the last second) this reveal
effect can be quite impressive to the audience.