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Stage curtains for theatres: a thorough guide

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Red stage curtain (velour)

This thorough guide contains all you need to know about theater or stage curtains. Are you instead looking for an overview of all our stage curtains? Click here.

Cotton, polyester and mohair stage curtains are the most traditional flame-retardant theatre drapes on stage. Manufactured as luxurious front curtains, borders, legs, valances and stage backdrops, they serve a decorative purpose on stage while improving lighting and sound conditions.

Table of contents:

DOWNLOAD THE THEATRE EBOOK or view all our stage curtains.

Types of theatre curtains

Theatre curtains for masking

Black stage leg curtainsDirecting sound and light is essential on stage. A perfect theatre experience therefor requires framing the image right, so the performance can make the biggest impact possible.

Stage masking draperies are used at the side limits of the performing space to conceal offstage areas and equipment from the audience’s view. These so-called “borders” and “legs” of the theatre are made from light masking fabrics that partially or completely block atmospheric light in order to create a black box on stage. They also meet the most specific onstage demands for minimum light reflection.

Looking for a product overview?

View our stage masking and blackout fabrics


Black drapes surrounding Cinema Gran RexApart from absorbing light, some theatre masking curtains can also be used as acoustic drapes. Engineered for maximum sound dampening and low reverberation levels, these acoustic stage curtains should be heavy-weight and porous, in order to improve sound quality within a venue. You can view all ShowTex acoustic solutions for theatres, or read our definitive guide to acoustic fabrics if you want to learn more about acoustic drapes in general.

Theatre backdrops

Backdrops are theatre curtains that hang in the back of the stage and can be used for projection or lighting effects. Often, they are made from canvas and printed or painted with custom artwork to create theatrical scenery.

Learn more about stage backdrops by reading our guide: how to choose a stage and event backdrop.

Proscenium curtains

The most famous and visible theatre curtain is, of course, the front-of-house or main curtain. Traditionally made from flame-retardant velvet, it is the visual barrier between the theatre stage and the audience before the show begins.


Theatre terms explained

Theatre terms visually explained: stage left/right, legs, curtains, flybars, ... and others

Best stage curtain materials

Theatres have a personality that can be emphasised with custom-sewn grand drapes. These stage velvets are produced from cotton or synthetic materials, available in a variety of weights, and can be custom-dyed on request.

Cotton theatre curtains

The traditional cotton theatre velvets feature a directional-pile and a striking matte finish. Choose one of the stylish colours of the velours Puccini, Verdi and Bellini, or discover the range of 100% cotton velvets, velours Hera, Iris and Maia.

Polyester or synthetic stage drapes

Red stage velvets used in the Opera Royal de WallonieWhile cotton velours are chemically treated to make them flame-retardant (FR), IFR polyester velvets are produced using materials that are inherently and permanently flame-resistant. These stage velvets are ultra-low maintenance and more resistant to moisture or wrinkling than any other kind of theatre velvet. This makes them more suited for touring than cotton stage velvets.

Learn more about Trevira CS theatre curtains.

The velours Helena CS, Garnier CS, Paris CS and the extra heavy-weight Zeus CS feature an upright pile and light satin sheen, while the cost-effective Velours Delta stage velvets are extra-wide and guarantee a more matte, deep black colour thanks to their short pile.

Mohair theatre curtains

Red mohair theatre curtainMohair stage velvets offer the most luxurious main house theatre curtains with maximum endurance and sustainability. The heavy-weight Velours Gaudi and the even heavier Velours Palladio theatre drapes are extremely durable and have a long upright satin pile, good acoustic qualities and excellent colour clarity.

Take it one step further and give your Mohair theatre drapes their very own character by adorning them with your personal designs or patterns. Logos or custom designs can be woven right into our Velours Mackintosh, while our Velours Le Corbusier can be embossed with historic pressed velvet patterns.

An overview of our product range:

Velours Puccini Cotton 360 g/m2 140 cm
Velours Verdi Cotton 525 g/m2 140 cm
Velours Bellini Cotton 605 g/m2 140 cm
Velours Hera Cotton 380 g/m2 150 cm
Velours Maia Cotton 450 g/m2 150 cm
Velours Iris Cotton 600 g/m2 150 cm

Velours Helena CS Trevira CS 380 g/m2 145 cm
Velours Garnier CS Trevira CS 450 g/m2 140 cm
Velours Paris CS Trevira CS 500 g/m2 140 cm
Velours Zeus CS Trevira CS 620 g/m2 140 cm
Velours TransSonic CS Trevira CS 330 g/m2 160 cm
Velours Delta IFR Polyester 460 g/m2 210 cm
StretchVelours Elastic Polyester 270 g/m2 160 cm
Velours Gaudi Mohair 575 g/m2 140 cm
Velours Palladio Mohair 770 g/m2 140 cm
Velours Mackintosh Mohair 470 g/m2 140 cm
Velours Le Corbusier Mohair 565 g/m2 140 cm

Fire-rated theatre curtain

Purple theatre drapes and interiorDraperies and textiles used in public venues like theatres and auditoriums are required by local legislation to meet specific flame-retardant standards. As these standards and certification requirements vary both internationally and regionally, ShowTex conducts a variety of tests on all its fabrics to provide worldwide customers with the most advanced flame-retardant theatre fabrics.

Find out more on fire-rated theatre drapery in our blog post about flame retardant standards.

What determines the price of your theatre drape?

As theatre curtains must be fully adapted to the needs of the venue, every one of them is different. There are many factors that determine the price of stage curtains and masking drapes, but the type of fabric and the amount of material are key.

It goes without saying that an extra-thick and luxurious velvet has a different price tag compared to a budget-friendly Molton drape. But of course, in the wide range of ShowTex, you will find affordable velvet theatre curtains as well.

The total size of the stage drape will also influence the price significantly. However, together we will always look for the perfect balance between the looks of your curtain, its desired blackout and/or acoustic properties and your budget.

Looking for more advice or ready to order your custom theatre curtain? Feel free to contact one of our experts.

Theatre curtain openings

A front curtain is the stage curtain or curtains at the very front of a theatrical stage. Typically, this theatre drape opens at the beginning of a performance to reveal the stage.

Eager to discover the many different styles of theatrical stage drape openings? Check out our blog post "curtain openings".

Pleats and finishes

An overview of different pleat styles

Different pleat styles (click to enlarge)

Theatre curtains can be sewn flat or with pleats for more fullness. Pleating is commonly used to increase opacity, light and sound absorption, or to add more depth to the drape.

Curtains can be pleated according to the fabric, application, and dimensions of the curtain.

  • For 100% fullness, account for twice the amount of fabric used for a flat curtain.
  • For 50% fullness, account for 1.5 the amount of fabric used.

There are several different types of pleats possible, depending on the look and feel you desire:

  • Flat curtain
  • Full box pleat
  • Rippled pleat
  • Tied in fullnes
  • Pinch pleat
  • Butterfly pleat
  • Shirred pleat

When in doubt, just ask. We are always happy to help.

Order your theatre curtain

Ready to order a theatre drape or in need of some specialist advice tailored to your project?

In both cases, just contact us. Our experts are happy to help you out!

Contact ShowTex