Is the bracketed definite article correctly used in the following?

The Tony Awards recognize excellence on [the] stage and behind the scenes.

A colleague wrote it, but the dictionaries I've consulted say "on stage" means "performing on a stage."

The Collins Dictionary has the following remark:

"You can refer to acting and the production of plays in a theater as the stage. Madge did not want to put her daughter on the stage ... He was the first comedian I ever saw on the stage."

I think the definition from Collins refers to work done in the theatrical industry in general, covering not only acting but also scripting, lighting, directing, etc.

But the sentence in the OP divides theater into two parts: acting and otherwise, so if "on stage" rather than "on the stage" is used, I suspect it then refers to acting only.

  • 1
    behind the scenes might tip the choice towards the zero-article but the stage is not ungrammatical there.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 17:38
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Please see the edit to my question.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


In general when you say "on stage" you are referring to acting/performing, not other things like scripting and lighting. Indeed, those are usually considered "backstage" or "behind the scenes" activities.

It's perfectly grammatical to say either "on stage" or "on the stage." While I'd say the former is more common, the latter sounds good when you are making a parallel with "behind the scenes."

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