Do you need new theatre curtains? Read this basic guide

The front of the stage is actually the most visible of all the stage drapery in the space. The drapery acts like a “frame” for the stage and it can be used to create special effects. If you need new drapery or theatre curtain for your space, then you should know that there are many types of drapery you can choose from, so many that in fact you may feel just in fact feel a little bit confused. Taking into account the myriad of types of curtains and fabrics, not to mention the terminology, just about anyone would be overwhelmed. However, choosing theatre curtains need not be intimidating. In this basic guide we will discuss the main types of drapery.

Types of theatre curtains

Despite the fact that there are endless possibilities when it comes to cloth which is designed to mask areas of the theatre to the audience, it is possible to narrow things down to three main types. Each type has predominant uses, but each facility can choose how to use the curtains.

Proscenium curtains comprise the main curtain and the valence. Practically, they provide a decorative barrier against the audience. The main setting acts as a decorative closure of the stage area. It is typically opened and closed during the performance to reveal or to hide the stage as well as the scenery from the audience. The grand valence is located in front of the grand drape and it is made from the very same material. The fabric and the colour enhance the appearance of the auditorium and coordinate with the setting.

Travelers are by far the most common type of drapery found on stage. They are designed in two suspended halves that are divided at the centre and part by each half travelling horizontally offstage. They can either be operated manually, or automatically. Travellers are generally used when there is not enough space to lift the curtain. No matter the operating system that they have, they remain fairly inexpensive.

Backdrops are usually placed close to the back wall and they ensure a surface for projecting scenery or lighting effects. It can be used by itself to represent the sky, in which case the curtain is mounted on a curved batten. The stage crew will be able to charge props behind them. They are manufactured from muslin and are painted so as to provide the scenery.


Stage fabric are designed keeping in mind durability. Generally speaking, heavier fabrics are more likely to last longer, but they will also cost more. The heaviest material that you can find is Magic Velour, which is suited for larger than normal settings. It is incredibly durable, rich and, most important, attractive in appearance.

Thoughts about flame retardancy

You must pay attention to the fact that theatre curtains must be fire resistant. IFR (Inherently Flame Retardant) are curtains in which the fire retardancy is built in the fabric. They do not need to be retreated and there is available IRF knitted and velour. Flame retardant cotton must be retreated once every couple of years. Drapery which is not inherently flame retardant has to be dry-cleaned so as not to be damaged by water.