Scene (theater)

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The scene is a rehearsal- related section of a play or the theater stage in general .


The skene in the ancient theater was the stage behind the stage. "Scene" in the meaning of the stage appears today in various expressions such as " transformation on an open scene" or staged reading or "semi-staged performance" for an implied stage representation.

Practical theater subdivision

In order to be able to rehearse a play in a meaningful way, it is traditionally divided into units, during which the number of actors on the stage does not change. When someone appears or goes off, a new scene begins. These scenes are numbered per act, sometimes also per picture (e.g. 1st act, 2nd picture, 3rd scene). Often this classification is already noted in the text. In this way, the scenes can be used in the rehearsal plan according to the actors available.

The division into acts or elevators, which results from the logic of the action, and the division into images , which is explained by the changes in decoration, differ from the division into scenes . With more modern pieces since the 20th century, these three criteria of subdivision sometimes get mixed up.

In opera , the term scene often distinguishes the open, dramatic forms of the recitative from the closed, lyrical forms of the aria , ensemble or choir (“scene and aria”).

Scene vs. image

The term appearance sometimes serves as an alternative term , while the “scene” then designates the image , that is, the section of a play in which the stage design remains the same.

In the plays by William Shakespeare there are frequent changes of location, which on the stages of his time were not marked by a technically complex transformation, but merely by relocating the actors to another location on the stage (see Globe Theater , Apron Stage ). According to the modern understanding, Shakespeare therefore does not mean by scene an appearance, but a stage design. Due to the frequent change of scenes , his pieces were often considered unplayable when the peep-show stage had prevailed (where a relocation of the actors was not enough to make a change of scene clear).


  • Bernhard Asmuth : Scene. In: Reallexikon der Deutschen Literaturwissenschaft . Vol. 3, ed. by Jan-Dirk Müller. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2003, ISBN 3-11-015664-4 , p. 566 f.
  • Dieter Burdorf , Christoph Fasbender, Burkhard Moennighoff (ed.): Metzler Lexicon Literature. Terms and Definitions . Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2007, ISBN 978-3-476-01612-6 , p. 749.