Skip to content


Community for culture, art and events

How does the stage work?

Erno Aaltonen

Download PDF

How does the stage work?

Author: Erno Aaltonen
Layout: Erno Aaltonen
Published by UrbanApa

Arts Promotion Centre Finland has supported the making of this publication


How does the stage work? is a handbook for the Western contemporary stage. In this book aimed at professionals, students and enthusiasts of performing arts, Erno Aaltonen explores the relationship between daily artistic choices and the ideologies, rules and conventions that govern what the contemporary stage can do.

Through analysis and personal speculation, Aaltonen brings focus to the conflicting norms, rules and ideologies of the stage, that are often masked as invisible and neutral. Correspondingly, some counter tools are outlined – how to challenge, stretch or break the existing rules and create new more inclusive ones. While the main questions of the book have emerged from stage design, its inquiries also extend to choreography, directing, dramaturgy, and performance production.

How does the stage work? is a reflection of Erno Aaltonen’s personal practice as an artist as well as a byproduct of years of collective thinking and performance making in different contexts. The book can be read on a phone as a freely downloadable .pdf slideshow.


Erno Aaltonen (b. 1985, he/him) is a white Finnish lighting designer, scenographer and co-creator working in performing arts. His work is situated in between what is being performed and the audience experience, whether it means artistic dialogue, visual design or technical production. He is interested in how the contemporary stage works and how understanding design can help us understand the ideologies that constitute the artwork. Aaltonen is a frequent collaborator of choreographers Sonya Lindfors, Ima Iduozee, Emmi Venna and Anna Maria Häkkinen.