My niece is directing one of my shows at her children's elementary school. I went over to help her with a couple of final rehearsals and discovered yet another in a long line of stages that make no sense.
First off, let's talk about the positives. The stage actually has workable drapes -- both proscenium drapes that pull closed and black backdrops that pull shut around the perimeter at either a midpoint of the stage or further back depending on whether you need a big backstage area or not. The good news is that the backdrops are NOT sewn all together. They can leave openings where actors can move through. (However, having openings means that the backstage area is fully exposed.) There are also stage lights that seem adequate and are adjustable. And the school does have working microphones and a house sound system. (Accessing it is awkward, but it does work.)
Now, about the negatives. This stage is another one built with every entrance onto it in full view of the audience -- the front risers, a very small stairwell on SL down into the audience, and a ramp on SR leading out into a hallway with a doorway into the audience. The very long winding handicap access ramp takes up half of what could be the stage area and some large storage/mechanical rooms take up another portion of the stage making the actual stage area much deeper than it is wide. Then, there is an accordion door that closes off the stage just behind the proscenium that folds away into its own nooks on either side of the stage blocking the access for the actors to gracefully get on or off stage behind the back drops. Why?!?!!!!!!!
The P.E. coach uses the stage as storage for much of the school's large equipment such as tumbling mats, tubs of balls and bats, soccer nets, and a host of other enticing toys that kids like to play with. Backstage for this cast is rather distracting! They can hardly keep themselves from touching and playing with all of the goodies right within their grasp!
Doesn't anyone get the notion that having a deep narrow stage is problematic? The most obvious problem is that only the front row actors can be seen. Kids back on rows 3-6 have no hope of being seen by their adoring parents who diligently come out to support the production. The sound implications alone ought to be enough to never design a stage this way! Only the performers near the front will be heard unless the stage has really good acoustics for projecting and monitor speakers so that they can hear the music way in the back. (And just how many young kids do you know that can project over accompaniment music without a microphone from the back of the stage?) And how exactly do you get set pieces on and off the stage with no side access? The list goes on and on.
From comments that I have heard, this particular stage is used very rarely for any kind of theatrical production. They mostly use just the risers in the front. What a shame! No wonder the PE. coach feels that he can use the stage area as a great big storage bin!