Often when planning events our first thoughts when it comes to styling is considering floor plans, seating arrangements and the room set-up. However, if your event includes stage hire, you’ll also need to factor in how you’ll style and present your stage, and the logistics of any set changes etc.
With over ten years events industry experience, here are our top tops from Sydney Staging Hire company about how to style and present your stage for all types of occasions.
1. Keep it simple
If this is your first time styling a stage and you don’t already have complex set requirements, our first tip is to keep it simple. Remember, more often than not the focus of your stage is on the actors, performers or people presenting. If your stage is cluttered or too full with other items, this can become very distracting to the audience and deter from the show. Also, the more features you have is just more that you will have to set up and pack down later!
Styling a stage can be as simple as adding some extra lighting, a pot plant on set or small corner arrangement to frame a presenter. Check out our minimalist stage design board on Pinterest here.
2. What’s the overall theme or vibe of your event?
A stage for a rock concert, a technology conference presentation or a religious ceremony will all have very different vibes to each other! It may seem obvious, but having a clear understanding of the overall theme or vibe of your event will make planning the design of it much easier. Consider who your audience is. What is their purpose of being there? Are they looking to be entertained and inspired, or educated and informed? If it’s a children’s event, using bright, primary colours and clear, bright lit lighting is more practical, whereas a stage for a rock concert performance is best to make use of stage lighting and special effects. If your stage is part of a sponsorship, the branding guidelines of that company will need to be factored in and how they want to be presented.
Start with a basic checklist to identify your audience and help guide your styling decisions.
Who is the audience?
What is their purpose of being there?
What do they want to take away from the performance or presentation?
What is the general mood, theme, vibe of the event?
3. How much floor area is needed on stage?
Whether they’re musicians or actors, most performers will move around a stage. Generally speaking, the concept of a stage is usually a means of providing a dedicated area that the show can be performed on, and that is exclusively accessible to the performers only. Therefore, you’ll certainly need to firstly clarify with them how much area they will need, and whether their show has any specific stage areas that will need to be kept free.
4. Create a floor plan for the stage only
This leads us to our next point, make sure you create a special floor plan, just for your stage. This will make it much easier to coordinate the stage layout and arrangement, and most of all ensure that you’ve designed your stage to scale! Creating a floor plan also helps you to visualize what the set-up will look like in it’s entirety and makes it much easier when you move things around or are experimenting with ideas to fully assess the set-up options.
5. Use hanging props or decor with height
It can be very easy when styling your stage to make it ‘bottom-heavy’, i.e. every prop or decoration takes up and needs some kind of floor space. Assuming most shows of all types will have performers standing, walking or in some way on the ground, crowding up the floor space can be a hindrance to any stage design. Making use of height with hanging props, backdrops, or tall, slim decor helps lighten the floor and stage base, and creates more space on stage. It’s also an effective way to keep your audience’s eyes up, and not just looking at the stage base. This is helpful when you usually will want your audience to be looking at the face and eyes of your performers or presenters. Making use of height on stage will lift your audience’s gaze as well as help your stage to overall feel more spacious.
6. Make sure your performers know the stage design so they can style their own wardrobe
This tip is the one more overlooked or simply forgotten. And imagine how a performer feels to arrive, having specially chosen their outfit only to learn too late that you’ve gone with a blue backdrop and props, and they’ve arrived in a perfectly matching and blended in blue blouse! It happens! The best way to communicate your stage designers with performers or presenters is to send them the floor plan with the dimensions, let them know the entry/exit points on stage and have run a practice stage set-up and be able to send them photos. If you can’t send them photos of the stage rehearsal, send real photos of what props are going to be used, or examples of the lighting so they can get a visual picture as close to the real thing and choose their own outfit accordingly.
7. Design for what will be visible to your audience
Like any styling project, it can be easy to get swept away in all the small details of bringing your stage together. As mentioned in tip 1 though, remember everything you set up on stage will also need to be packed down. Keep it simple! Depending on the size of your stage and where your audience’s vantage point is, adding small details on stage, may not even be visible to your audience. Try to assess each prop or decoration feature by why it’s needed, what vibe or style is it adding, and test for yourself whether or not it will be visible or noticeable to your audience. This also should be done for props or features that are important to be seen by your audience, e.g. signage. Consider the placement and positioning of your performers to identify the best and most clear position.
8. Lighting is part of your styling
The best bit about stage lighting is this is actually a very significant part of your stage design and greatly enhances any stage set-up. The effect of your stage lighting should definitely not be underestimated, and when designing your stage hire set-up, lighting should be considered as part of this. From coloured backlights to feature spotlights, strobe lights or UV black lights, your choice of stage lighting changes and creates your whole event mood and ambience.
For more stage styling inspiration, check out our Pinterest board or get in touch with Sydney Staging Hire. With over ten years event management and event design experience, a member of our team would be happy to help you and ensure your staging hire is covered.