Every move that an actor makes be it, walking across the stage, falling to the floor, getting down on bended knee, take a turn, to stand with your co-actor, saying your dialogues at a specific place at stage, etc is called “blocking.” It is one of the main responsibilities of the director of any play.
But it is not director’s only responsibility.
Blocking makes an act comfortably visible to the audience. After all, it is the audience who is going to watch the play and if the audience is not comfortable with the blocking of the play either they will get confused about what is happening on the stage or they will lose the flow of the scene. It is very important for the director to block the scene with an audience point of view. Before discussing the Blocking details, let us talk about the stage directions.
Stage directions are helpful while reading script to understand the position of the character and hence it helps to occupy the stage properly. As it is very important for a director to make proper use of the stage.
Stage direction map of the theatre
As the above picture shows, from the rear of the stage to the audience, there are three zones, upstage,center stage, and downstage, each divided into three sections. There will be a left and right side in each. In the center stage zone, right or left may be referred to simply as stage right and stage left, with the middle of the stage being referred to as the center stage.
Basics of rules of Blocking :
Rule 1: Avoid showing your back to the audience if not necessary.
Let’s say you are an audience watching a play and an actor on stage is saying his dialogues and his back is in front of you. You will have to assume what his expressions are. This is an improper blocking. It gives a wrong impression to the audience. Maybe they will lose the flow of the scene. And also the audience needs to see an actor to connect with his character.
Exception case: Yess, exceptions are always there. Sometimes according to blocking, it is mandatory to show back to the audience. Let’s take the example of a fighting scene where an actor has to punch his co-actor. In this scene, the co-actor needs to turn and show his back to the audience and the actor who is punching has to give a gesture of punch hiding his fist behind the co-actor.
Rule 2: Do not break the fourth wall.
To understand this rule you need to know what is FOURTH WALL. Let’s assume the stage is like a room covered with four walls, now left and right wings are our two side walls and backdrop is the 3rd wall now there is one side left where the audience is sitting and this is called the fourth wall. Basically, the fourth wall is an imaginary wall which separates an actor from the audience.
Now let’s come back to rule 2, this rule says DO NOT BREAK THE FOURTH WALL until necessary. Breaking the fourth wall means to avoid interaction or eye contact with the audience. For proper blocking an actor should not stand with his front body facing the audience and the best posture is at 45 degree or diagonal posture.
Exception Case: Many times due to demand of the scene an actor needs to stand facing the audience. Especially when an actor needs to interact with the audience to ask questions(Answers are never expected from the audience). Or according to the blocking, the actor’s stage direction is Center Upstage, for example, Judge sitting in the courtroom and the suspect and eye witness on both sides of the stage.
Rule 3: Do not hide your co-actor.
This rule simply means do not stand in between the audience and your co-actor which can create difficulty for the audience to see your co-actor. Give your co-actor his space to let me show his act.
Exception case: Its exception case is similar to the Exception case of rule 1 in which one actor is punching his