“À jardin” and “à cour” refer to the left and the right sides of the stage respectively when facing the stage, in the auditorium. These expressions allow artists, technicians, stage managers and the production team, (the director, conductor, choreographer and set designer etc.) to understand each other and talk about the same left and the same right when referring to blocking, entrances and exits on stage.
The terms appeared in the 18th century during rehearsals taking place at the Théâtre des Tuileries where on their right the actors had the cour (court) of the Tuileries Palace and the jardins (gardens) on the right. Before the French Revolution, the terms Côté Roi or “King’s side” and Côté Reine, the “Queen’s side” were used, each of them having a box situated to the right and left of the stage respectively. Today, now that there are no longer King, Queen, court or garden, various mnemonics are used to get one’s bearings: for the performers on stage, the coté cour is where the heart or Coeur is situated. For the audience, seated in the auditorium, the intitials J.C. – Jesus (jardin) Christ (cour), or Julius Caesar, or even Jean-Claude provide a simple reminder.