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Glossary of Theater Terms

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THE SHORT LIST for performers

This abridged list below has removed the most technical terms not necessary to most performing talent. For glossary of technical theater terms click above links above links. Many detailed technical and slang terms for lighting, sound, staging and more.


Above Upstage or away from the audience. Actors crossing above a prop or piece of set are keeping it between them and the audience.

Acoustics 1) The science of sound. 2) The factors and characteristics of a room or space that determine the sound capabilities and properties of that room.

Act 1) What an actor does. 2) Segments of a performance, usually separated by an interval. So the first part is Act 1, the second Act 2, and so on.

Acting Area The area of the stage setting within which the actor performs. It may include areas off the normal stage.(UK) Usually split into theoretical portions for ease of reference.

Acting Versions Published scripts which include notes from previous productions of the show - first appeared in England in the 18th century.

Actor's Equity The union for actors. The English version was founded in 1920 after an actors' strike. The Australian version is now a part of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

Actor Manager An actor who rents a theatre and runs their own company.

Ad Lib A departure from the script in order to cover an unexpected situation or hide a lapse of memory.

After Piece A brief one act play, usually a nonsense piece, staged after the main performance has concluded. Originated as a comic antidote to the main play in England in the early 18th century. It was designed for people who arrived late due to an early curtain time (because they relied on natural light, many plays started quite early), or pressures of business.

Ambience The mix of background noise and other reflected sounds that make up a room's acoustic character. More recently, a generic description of new age music.

Amphitheatre An outdoor theatrical setting, usually with a large semi-circular seating area sloping down to the stage. Sometimes a very large indoor venue. The amphitheatre was developed by the Romans to provide convenient accommodation for large numbers of spectators at exhibitions of gladiatorial combats and beast hunts. The amphitheatre was one of the earliest examples of reserved ticketing. Tickets noted which arch to enter through, and the section, row, and seat numbers. They were also big. The amphitheatre at Pompeii, built 80BC sat 20,000, while the Colosseum in Rome, built 29BC by Statilus Tauros, held an estimated 45,000 to 50,000 spectators.

Amplifier An electronic device that amplifies sound signals to a point where they great enough to be heard through a speaker.

Angels Financial backers of a production.

Antagonist The chief opponent of the protagonist in a drama.

Apotheosis Final scene or tableau in which the characters are elevated to immortality.

Apron A part of the stage projecting towards or into the auditorium. In proscenium stages, the part of the stage in front of the curtain. (UK) See Forestage.

Arena Theatre A theatre in which the audience sits on all sides of an acting area. Originates in Roman times, when the arena was the oval space in a Roman amphitheatre where the combats and other entertainment took place.

ARX Australian audio equipment manufacturer

.Assistant Stage Manager Abbrev. to ASM. According the size of the show, there may be one or more ASM's who assist the Stage Manager with properties and other activities on stage.

ASM See Assistant Stage Manager.

At Rise The action occurring on the stage when the curtain opens.

Auditorium The part of the theatre designed to accommodate the audience. Auditorium can also describe the entire theatre, and has been in use as a word since the 18th century, although there were other words with the same meaning before that. Incidentally, the plural can be either auditoriums or auditoria. Also House.

Backstage In proscenium theatres, the area behind the proscenium arch. The term also refers to such areas in non-proscenium theatres and to any part of the stage not in the acting area during a performance.

Ballad Opera A musical with songs based on popular melodies or tunes e.g. THE BEGGARS OPERA.

Band Call Any orchestral rehearsal but particularly a musical rehearsal with cast and musicians without the acting movements. (UK)

Barre The bar running around the wall of a dance rehearsal room used by the dancers to hold on to during some exercises in a dance class.

Baroque Theatre A sumptuous, spectacular form of theatre popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Noted for its ability to extend beyond the confines of the stage and involving elaborate changeable scenery.

Basic Situation The fundamental premise or story line on which a play is based.

Bass The lowest end of the audible audio frequency spectrum.

Beginners A call given by the stage manager to bring those actors who appear at the beginning of the play or act to the stage. Traditionally given five minutes before curtain time. Also Places Please (US).

Blackout A total, sometimes sudden, extinguishing of the stage lights, often at the end of a scene or act.

Blocking The process of roughing out the moves to be made by the actors. Also Grouping.

Book 1) Noun - Alternative term for the scripts. 2) Noun - The prompt copy. 3) Noun - The part of a musical show conducted in dialogue. 4) Verb - To arrange the services of actors and musicians.

Border Flown scenic piece or curtain designed to conceal the upper part of the stage and its machinery or lighting equipment. (UK)

Bounce 1) To bring in the House Curtain fast, then take it out again immediately. 2) Lighting term describing light beams reflected off the stage or set.

Box Set Setting which encloses the acting area on three sides. Conventionally in imitation of a room from which the fourth wall has been removed. (UK).

Break A Leg Traditional good luck greeting between cast and crew before a performance. Also Chookas, Fall Down Backward.

Breaking Character When actors do or say something which is inconsistent with the character they are working session e.g.

Business Movements or activity used by the actors to reinforce their character.

Bus And Truck Tour designed for short stops, usually 1 to 4 nights. (US)

Call 1) A notification of a rehearsal call. (UK) 2) A request for an actor to come to the stage as his entrance is imminent, formerly by call boy, now by loudspeaker system in the dressing rooms. (UK) 3) An acknowledgment of applause .e.g. Curtain Call. (UK)

Camera Left The right hand side of the stage as viewed by the cast facing the audience. Also Stage Right, Opposite Prompt.

Camera Right The left hand side of the stage as viewed by the cast facing the audience. Also Stage Left, Prompt Side.

Centre Line An imaginary line running from the front to the back of the stage through the exact centre of the proscenium arch. (UK)

Centre Stage The middle of the acting area. Abbrev. CS.

Charonian Steps Steps used in ancient Greek theatre by actors to emerge from below stage to symbolise their appearance from the underworld.

Chookas Traditional good luck greeting between cast and crew before a performance. Also Break A Leg, Fall Down Backward.

Choreographer Designs and creates the dance elements and arrangements for a show.

Chorus Set of performers who speak, sing and/or dance as a group rather than individually.

Company Manager In charge of the overall welfare of all technical and acting staff, including paying wages, organising accommodation, and liaising with the venue.

Complication A twist introduced into a play which heightens tension and prolongs the climax of the story.

Concert Pitch The common tuning standard for musical instruments, agreed in 1960, where the note A = 440 Hz (or vibrations per second).

Conflict The struggle between two or more actors leading to a climax.

Corpse (Verb) To laugh uncontrollably on stage.

Cover A term used particularly in opera for a stand-by or understudy actor. (UK)

Crash Box Box used for creating sound effects.

Cressets Lengths of rope dipped in pitch and lit in small open cages and used as stage lighting in the 17th century. (From Latin 'Crassus' = fat or grease)

Crew Loose term covering all those who work on a show backstage.

Cross The movement of an actor across the stage in any direction.

Cue The signal that initiates a change of any kind during a performance. (UK)

Cued script A cut down version of the full script, prepared especially for a particular actor, showing only that actor's speeches with a few lines either side for cues. Usually on a smaller paper size such as quarto so it can be kept easily in a bag or pocket.

Cue-to-cue A technical rehearsal specifically for the technical crew to work fully through the cues, often by skipping parts of the script. Also Top And Tail Rehearsal.

Curtain 1) The drapery which hides the stage from the audience. See House Curtain. 2) The action of the House Curtain coming down at the end of an Act or the play. 3) The last piece of action on the stage before the House Curtain comes down.

Curtain Line 1) The final line of a scene or act which gives the cue for the curtain to come down. In a tradition dating from Elizabethan times it is considered unlucky to speak the curtain line in rehearsal. 2) The imaginary line across the stage where the curtain falls.

Curtain Raiser Similar to the after piece, developed in France in the late 18th century as a short play to bridge the gap between the beginning of the performance and the arrival of late audience members. Generally the curtain raiser had nothing to do with the main performance.

Curtain Speech Address to the audience by an actor, without the persona of the character the actor is supposed to be portraying.

Curtain Time or Curtain Up The beginning of the show. Also Curtain Time.

Cut And Run Term used towards the end of the 18th century when actors cut their lines and left the stage, for one reason or another.

Cyclorama A perfectly plain screen with a uniform surface extending around and above the stage to give a feeling of infinite space. It can also be used for the projection of designs and shadows. In English repertory theatres it was traditionally made of concrete and thus the back wall of the stage. (UK) Also Sky-cloth. (From Greek 'Kuklos' = circle and 'Horama' = view).

Dark A theatre which is temporarily or permanently closed to the public. (UK)

Denouement The process during which all tensions and conflicts generated in the performance are resolved.(From the French = unknotting, the unravelling of plot or complications in a story.)

Deputy Stage Manager On larger shows a Deputy Stage Manager is employed to lighten the load on the Stage Manager. This can include running some rehearsals, and calling cues from the Prompt Book during the performance.

Designer Responsible for the conception and supervision of the execution of the visual aspects of the production. Separate designers may be employed for scenery, costumes, lighting etc. (UK)

Deus ex machina The event or person that saves a situation in the nick of time. (from Latin = god from the machinery - a device by which gods were suspended above the stage in ancient theatre).

Dialogue The lines or words spoken by the cast in a show.

Diorama A spectacular 3 dimensional effect was created by a specially painted cloth and carefully focussed lighting. Invented by Louis Daguerre in Paris 1822, the man who is also credited with inventing photography. (From Greek, 'Dia' = through, and 'Horama' = view).

Director Has the ultimate responsibility for the interpretation of the script through his control of the actors and supporting production team.

Discovered At Rise Actors present on stage when the curtain rises or the lights come up.

Dock Area at the rear or side of the stage where scenery is stored when not in use or where materials are loaded to and from the trucks or vehicles. (UK) Also Scene Dock.

Dolly 1) A small trolley or truck used to move set or props. 2) As for 1) but on which a film camera is mounted to allow action to be filmed while the camera is moving. (TV)

Downstage The part of the stage closest to the audience. Abbrev. D/S.

Dress Parade Prior to the first stage dress rehearsal the actors put on each of their costumes in sequence so that the director and designer can check the state of preparedness of the wardrobe. (US)

Dress Rehearsal Also known simply as the 'dress', the final rehearsal before the performance. The actors are in costume and all technical problems should have been sorted out.

Dresser Crew member who assists actors with costume care and costume changing during the performance.

Dry When cast members forget their lines and cannot continue they have 'dried'.

DSM See Deputy Stage Manager.

Dumb show The precursor to the speechless character of Harlequin. The dumb show was a feature of English Tudor era pageantry.

Ensemble Acting Actors working as a group on stage rather than individual characters.

Entrance 1) Place on a set through which the actor may appear. 2) Point in the script at which an actor appears on stage.

Epilogue A speech to the audience by an actor after the formal action of the play is concluded.

Exit 1) The process of leaving the stage. 2) Point in the script at which an actor leaves the stage.

Exposition Background knowledge required by an audience to understand the play. The information is sometimes not in the script, but more often is conveyed in early speeches by subordinate characters.

Exterior A setting depicting an outdoor scene.

Extra See Supernumerary.

False Proscenium An inner frame which narrows down the opening of the proscenium arch. It may help to hide lanterns or may be required by the design of the show.

False Stage A special stage floor laid a few inches above the real stage, to allow the running of steel cables to pull trucks across the stage. (UK)

Feedback High pitched squeal when a microphone picks up acoustically from a speaker to which it is connected. Also Howl Round.

Flat A basic unit of scenery, a wooden frame covered with either canvas or plywood, and painted with the required picture.

Floorcloth A canvas covering for the floor of the stage. The cloth can be painted to resemble some surface, but be easily removed to reveal another cloth, or the stage floor below.

Focus 1) That items and objects on the set are consistent with the theme envisaged by the director. 2) Pulling focus - when an actor deliberately tries to draw the audience's attention away from another cast member to themselves.

Forestage The area in front of the house curtain in a proscenium arch theatre.

Fourth Wall The imaginary wall which separates the audience from the stage in a proscenium theatre.

Freeze To stop all action and movement on stage, usually during applause or just before a lighting cue.

Fribble A 17th century word used to describe ad libbing to cover lapses of memory.

Front of House Abbrev. to FOH. Any part of the theatre in front of the proscenium arch.

Front of House Manager The staff member in a Theatre responsible for the audience and Front of House facilities, such as the bars, concessions, programs, and ticket selling.

Gopher General dogsbody who is sent to 'go for' things for the cast and crew. (US)

Green The part of the stage area visible to the audience.portraying.

Green Baize Until the mid 19th century it was common practice to lay a green carpet on stage when a tragedy was to be performed. Practically it was to protect the costumes when the cast collapsed in death, but became a tool to raise an audience's expectations when the carpet was laid during interval.

Green Room Room adjacent to the stage (.i.e. the Green) for the actors to meet and relax. One explanation for 'green' is that in medieval days, when strolling players gave performances on the village green (hence 'Green'), a tent would be set-up for them to change costumes in (hence 'Green Room'). Perhaps the best known Green Room is at Drury Lane Theatre in London, and it is possible that it was once draped or painted in green, and this is the origin. Another possible theory is because of the Green Baize as described above. Green, the colour, is also known to be psychologically soothing.

Ground Plan A scale drawing which shows the exact position of the openings, wall and windows, and other details on in a stage set as seen from above.

Grouping The arrangement of actors in and around the set at a particular time. See Blocking.

Half Half hour call. Warning to the company given thirty-five minutes before performance (thirty minutes before beginners).

Half Price Custom originating in the 18th century of admitting privileged patrons free of charge after the third act of the play.

Hall Keeper Staff person who works at the Stage Door taking messages and deliveries (UK). Also Stage Door Keeper, Stage Door Man.

Hand Prop Any prop handled by an actor.

Hard Edged A light beam on stage that has a clearly defined edge or side. Opposite to Soft Edged.

Harmonics The separate tones that are multiples of the original sound frequency.

Head Electrician The permanent staff member in a theatre who runs the electrics department.

Hot Spot An area on the stage on which the lighting is unintentionally more intense than the other areas.

House 1) The audience. 2) The auditorium.

House Curtain The main front curtain in a proscenium theatre.

House Manager See Front of House Manager.

House Lights The decorative fixtures that light the auditorium whilst the audience is entering or leaving, usually they are dimmed or switched off during the performance.

Inner Stage A part of the acting area which can be masked off and revealed only during certain scenes.

Irish Acting Acting term coined earlier this century to describe a lack of gestures but confident delivery of lines.

Irony Contained in much theatre. When a word or action implies or conveys the opposite meaning to that we expect.

Kabuki Traditional form of Japanese theatre still practised today by a select group of male actors in Japan.


Legit Short for Legitimate - a play with no music. Originates from the Letters Patent issued by Charles II in 1662 giving two men a monopoly over the performance of all plays in the City of Westminster - the legal theatres became known as Patent Theatres. Some clever entrepreneurs got around this decree by deciding musicals were not plays and staged them defiantly. So musicals became illegitimate, and plays legitimate.

Legitimate Actor An actor trained for legit theatre.

Legs Vertical strips of fabric, usually black, used mainly for masking the sides of the stage.

Libretto The part of a musical score containing the sung and spoken words.

Lift To add life to a line or scene.

Lines Set Down Lines committed to memory.

Listen In An actor must 'listen in' to the others on stage to gather the nuances of the language and action. It is too easy for an actor to reply automatically without considering the import of what they are saying.

M****th The play that it is unlucky to speak the name of, or to quote from, in a theatre. Instead it is known as by euphemisms such as 'The Scottish Play' or 'The Unmentionable'. This tradition dates from the first opening night of the play in 1606 when the boy actor playing Lady M****th died backstage during the show. Since then the play has apparently been dogged by bad luck.

Marking 1) Indicating the position of scenery or props on the stage floor, usually with different colour tapes to avoid confusion. Also spiking. 2) In singing, a means of using the voice with reduced volume and without vocalising extremes of register.

Marking Out The process of marking the position of scenery and props with coloured tape on the rehearsal room floor.

Mask 1) Verb - To hide or conceal unwanted areas or machinery. 2) One actor obscuring another unintentionally. 3) Noun - A mould or prop used to conceal an actor's face.

Musical Director Abbrev. to MD. The person in charge of the musical content of a show.

Method Acting A style of teaching acting formulated by Stanislavsky.

Mugging It Playing Out Front too much.

Noh Theatre Traditional form of Japanese drama.

Notes Similar to a Post Mortem, but particularly where the director gives notes to the cast and crew after a show about the good and bad points of the show.

Objective The end towards which a character urgently strives.

Offstage Backstage area outside the performance area.

One Play Actors Actors who, for various reasons, have become associated with a single part. An actor in this position may be known as over-exposed.

One Play Authors One hit wonders, or authors who are remembered only for one work.

Onion At The End Old English music hall term, the moment or action that makes the audience cry at the end of the show.

Onstage 1) Inside the acting area. 2) Towards the centre line.

Open To turn or face more towards the audience.

Orchestra 1) The musicians who provide the musical backing to a show. 2) The ground floor seating in an auditorium. Also Stalls.

Orchestra Pit The sunken area in front of the stage where the orchestra play during a performance. Also The Pit.

Out Flying term for up. In is down - which prevents confusion with Up and Down Stage.

Out Front 1) The audience. 2) Towards the audience. 3) See Front of House.

Overture The music which begins a performance.

Pace The speed at which the story and action in a play runs.

Pancake Basic make-up item, available in a range of shades, used the world over.

Part An actor's part of the play is his or her lines and directions, the whole performance of an individual,

Peacocks In some parts of theatre these birds are considered harbingers of evil.

Pepper's Ghost The effect of a ghost on stage created in the 1860s by J. Pepper using glass as a reflector. Pepper's ghost was such a success that several plays were written especially to use the effect.

Period When all the facets of a production are carefully aimed towards representing a specific period in history.

Piano Rehearsal Rehearsal for a musical show where the music is provided only by a pianist, to save calling the orchestra and incurring the additional cost.

Platform Stage An elevated acting area that does not use a proscenium arch.

Plot 1) Any list of cues for effects used in the play. 2) The fundamental thread that runs through a story, providing the reason for the actions of the characters.

PM See Production Manager.

Point Of Attack The moment in the story at which the writer decides to start the play's action.

Pong To speak in blank verse after drying.

Post Mortem The session attended by cast and crew after a show to discuss problems. See Notes.

Practical Any object which must do onstage the same job that it would do in real life e.g. lamp post or telephone.

Preparation The activities used by actors to prepare themselves for a performance.

Preset 1) Used to describe any article placed in its working area before the performance. 2) A basic lighting state that the audience sees before the action starts.

Preview A performance given before the official opening night, sometimes it is in fact the final full dress rehearsal. Tickets, if sold, are often cheaper as a way of building audience interest in the show.

Principals The actors in a show with the lead or speaking roles.

Producer The person responsible for raising the finance to stage a show and then generally running the business side.

Production Manager Abbrev. to PM. The senior member of the technical team, in control of staffing, budgets, and liaison with venues whilst on tour.

Prologue Speech given to the audience by an actor before the start of the play.

Prompt The person who, during the performance, feeds actors lines if they 'dry'. Usually from the down stage stage left position - hence Prompt Corner. In opera it was traditional for the prompt to be positioned with the head projecting through a small slit cut in the stage floor down stage centre, with a wooden hood or cover to mask the prompt person from the audience.

Prompt Book See Prompt Copy.

Prompt Copy Fully annotated copy of the play with all of the various production details, used by the Stage Manager during the performance to co-ordinate all the various technical and staging departments. Also Prompt Book.

Prompt Corner The down stage stage left corner of the stage. Known as Prompt Corner because that is the area where the Prompt, or Stage Manager, usually sits.

Prompt Side Abbrev. to PS. The left hand side of the stage as viewed by the cast facing the audience. Also Stage Left, Camera Right.

Properties Abbrev. to Props. Any item or article used by the actors other than scenery and costumes.

Props Table Table in convenient offstage area on which all props are left prior to use.

Proscenium Arch Abbrev. to Pros. The archway which separates the stage and the auditorium.

Proscenium Theatre Any theatre that has a proscenium arch.

Protagonist The main character in a play around whom most of the action is based.

Proximity Effect The difference in sound characteristics as a microphone is moved towards or away from a sound source. Generally a loss in bass response is experienced as the microphone is moved away. Often used by vocalists to add emphasis to their songs.

PS See Prompt Side.

Pulling Focus See Focus.

Quarter Backstage pre-show call given 20 minutes before curtain up (15 minutes before beginners).

Rake The incline of a stage floor or seating area away from the horizontal. Originally introduced as a way of improving sightlines to the stage under poor lighting conditions last century.

Readers Theatre Similar to a workshop piece, but without the analysis, where the cast read the play aloud with the script in hand and without gestures. (US).

Rehearsal The learning of the show by the cast and crew before public performance.

Repertory Abbrev. to Rep. A form of theatre production company, usually with a permanent company of actors, where each production has a run of limited length. At any time there is normally one production in performance, one in rehearsal, and several in varying degrees of planning.

Reserved Ticketing Ticketing for a performance in which the precise seat to be occupied by the patron is defined by row and number. The opposite is unreserved seating.

Return A flat or curtain leading off from another at right angles.

Reveal A small return surrounding an arch, window, or doorway to suggest depth and thickness.

Reversal A sudden about change in the plot or action on stage leading to an unexpected outcome.

Reverberation Abbrev. to Reverb. The effect of multiple sound waves reflecting off surfaces in a room.

Revolving Stage A Revolve. A large turntable which turns the set so that, even though two or more scenes may be on the revolve, only one need be visible to the audience at a time.

Ride It A technique of pacing and timing employed by an actor to handle laughter from the audience.

Riser 1) See Rostrum. 2) The vertical part of a step. 3) The vertical parts of the concentric rings of a fresnel lens.

Rostrum A portable platform usually in the form of a collapsible hinged framework (gate rostrum) with a separate top. Used to raise specific parts of the action or scene.

Royalty The performance fee paid to the author of a script.

Run 1) A sequence of performances of the same show. 2) Horizontal width of a step. 3) See Run Through.

Run Through A rehearsal at which all the elements of the production are put together in their correct sequence. Sometimes shortened to 'Run'.

Runners A pair of curtains parting at the centre and moving horizontally.

Scene 1) A stage setting. 2) The blocks or parts into which a play is divided. 3) A particular setting of stage lighting that can be reproduced on demand. Al

Scrim Finely woven fabric which can be translucent or opaque using lighting from different angles. Small pieces of a scrim material is often used in front of lanterns to soften the light beam.

Script The text of the show, also containing information about settings, characters, costumes etc. to aid the cast and crew.

Segue Originally a musical term for an immediate follow on, now used more generally for any immediate follow on.

Set 1) Verb - To set is to prepare the stage for the coming scene by placing everything in its correct position. 2) Noun - The set is all the scenery, furniture and props used to create a particular scene. 3) When an actor has learnt their lines and stage directions they are 'set'.

Set Dressing 1) The process of putting all sets, props and so on in their correct positions on the stage. 2) Props used to create atmosphere rather than having a function.

Set Piece A piece of scenery which stands alone.

Setting Line Line normally parallel to the front of the stage and just upstage of the house curtain, from which the positions of the scenery are measured.

Side A page of script.

Sightlines Lines indicating the limits of what an audience can see. The sightlines can be drawn on a plan or determined by someone in the auditorium.

Sit In A director may invite a group of the actors' friends to 'sit in' on a rehearsal.

Slapstick Slightly manic but physical comedy that relies on often violent behaviour to elicit laughter.

Special A lantern performing a particular function, such as a fire 'special' or a window 'special'.

Spiking Marking the position of a set piece on the stage. See Marking.Spill Unwanted light which is normally due to a poorly focused lantern.

Spine The dominant desire or motive of a character.

Spit and Dribble The cheapest seats in the highest balcony in the auditorium.

Stage 1) The part of the theatre on which the actor performs. 2) The acting profession - an actor is said to be 'On The Stage'.

Stage Conventions Certain devices used within a performance that are accepted as portraying an event or style without necessarily being realistic.

Stage Directions Directions in the script about how the playwright intends actions or arrangements to be carried out.

Stage Door The door to the theatre through which the cast and crew enter and exit the theatre. Not the public entrance to the building.

Stage Door Keeper See Hall Keeper.Stage Fever A desire to be on the stage.

Stage House The stage and everything up to the grid.

Stage Left Abbrev. to SL. The left side of the stage as viewed by the cast facing the audience. Also Prompt Side, Camera Right.

Stage Manager The member of the production team responsible for the smooth running of a performance. Before a production opens the Stage Manager attends rehearsals and meetings with other members of the production, and in smaller companies is often the coordinator of all of the various aspects of the production. During the performance the Stage Manager, using a copy of the script annotated during rehearsals, cues the actors and the various technical departments. On larger shows this last function will be performed by the Deputy Stage Manager.

Stage Right Abbrev. to SR. The right hand stage as viewed by the cast facing the audience. Also Opposite Prompt, Camera Left.

Sticky If a scene or paragraph is proving difficult to play, it is said to be sticky.

Standing Room Only All seats having been sold the only positions left for the audience require standing for the show.

Stock Characters Type cast characters such as 'The Villain', 'The Hero', etc.

Stock Plots As for Stock Characters.

Stock Scenery Scenery able to be used for a number of different plays.

Strike To clear the stage of scenery and other materials, or to remove a specific article.

Subtext The meaning beneath the superficial surface of a play's story, often more important then the latter.

Summer Stock Theatre Companies that operate in regional areas, outside the usual theatrical centres, during the summer months, and who produce an intensive season of plays.

Surround Sound An extra audio track now added to many films often used for atmospheric or special effects sounds. The surround speakers are place at the side and/or rear of the audience so that the patrons appear 'surrounded' by the film's soundtrack. When first developed was predominantly used for sudden special effects sounds such as explosions, and so was first know as the effects soundtrack.

Tabs A pair of curtains which over-lap at centre, and together are the full width and height of the stage. Front tabs are the House Curtain.

Supernumerary An actor with a non-speaking role, employed, for example, to swell a crowd scene. Also Extra.

Tableau A finishing arrangement or placement of cast at the end of a scene or act that is achieved, then held as the lights fade down or the curtain falls.

Tableau Vivant Almost the reverse of a tableau, but where supposedly inanimate images come to life.

Teaser 1) Originally the border of scenery behind the front curtain for masking the flys, now the term refers to any short drop used as masking. 2) A small press or short radio or TV advertisement designed to titillate the public while giving almost no detail.

Technical The functions essential to a play other than those of the cast's actual interpretation of the script, in particular the set, lighting etc.

Technical Director See Technical Stage Manager.

Technical Rehearsal Abbrev. to Tech. A rehearsal at which all of the technical elements are rehearsed and integrated into the show.

Technical Stage Manager Sometimes known as Technical Director. In charge of the technical activities and staff on stage, particularly during bump-in and out.

Theatre In The Round A stage in which the audience sits on all sides of the stage.

Theme The central idea of a play.

The Old Complaint Euphemism for habitual drunkenness among actors.

Thrust Stage Type of stage which projects into the auditorium so the audience can sit on at least two sides.

Top And Tail See Cue To Cue.

Tragic Flaw The fundamental error in a character that often leads to a climax for the character within a play.

Trap A trap door opening into the area below stage which can be used for special effects.

Traps Case Roadcase in which a drummer stores the various stands and attachments that hold up their drum kit.

Treads Steps or stairs used on stage.

Tree A rigging stand that sits on the floor that can lift a bar of lights up to a certain height. Also known as 'winch ups' due to the fact the stand is usually telescoped up by operating a hand winch attached to the side of the tree.

Truck A low platform with wheels or castors on which a piece of scenery can be moved. Also Wagon.

Tune 1) Aligning a musical instrument to a standard pitch, or adjusting musical instruments for playing together. 2) Adjusting the equalisation of a sound system to suit the acoustic characteristics of a specific room and/or style of performance.

Understudy An actor who learns the part of another ready to step into their shoes should they not be able to perform due to illness or other reasons. Also Cover.

Upstage Abbrev. to US. The part of the stage furthest away from the audience.

Upstaging To deliberately draw focus on stage.

U.V. See Ultra Violet Light.

Walk Through Rehearsals at which the actors go through entrances, moves and exits to make clear any changes or alterations that made be necessary.

Wardrobe General name for the costume department, its staff, and the accommodation they occupy.

Wardrobe Plot Actor-by-actor, scene-by-scene inventory of all the costumes in a production, giving a detailed breakdown of each separate item in each costume.

Warm Up A session usually a short time before a performance in which the actors prepare their bodies through a number of physical, mental, and musical exercises.

Warning Bells See Bells.

Wings The sides of the stage concealed from the audiences' view.

Wing Curtains See Legs.

Working Lights Stage lights independent of the main dimming system used while the crew work on stage during Bump-in etc.

Workshop Any non-performing backstage area of the theatre.

Workshop Performance A performance in which maximum effort goes towards acting and interpretation of the script rather than sets or costumes, or the visual performance.




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