Theatre Terms | AACT
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Theatre Terms

image of question markHere you'll find over 1000 definitions of theatrical terms, from Aside, Beam Angle, and Camlock, to Upstaging, VU Meter, and Wagon.  Fully searchable, our glossary is helpful for technical staff, directors, actors, producers, or anyone wanting to better understand the inner workings of theatre.

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Term Definition Link
ABOVE 1) Elizabethan stage directions for a location on an upper stage or in a gallery. 2) Stage direction (mostly obsolete) for upstage, upstage of.
ABSTRACT SETTING A stage setting that is stylized rather than photorealistic or representational; that is, one that does not attempt to present a realistic stage picture.
ACCENT LIGHTING Lighting that stresses certain stage areas. It may be done with intensity and/or color. An "accent light" is one that provides such illumination.
ACN Advanced Control Network. Show control protocol using ethernet, designed to improve on the limitations of DMX512.
ACOUSTIC Pertaining to sound.
ACOUSTICS The behavior of sound and its study. The acoustics of a room depend on its size and shape and the amount and position of sound-absorbing and reflecting material.
ACT 1) One of the principal structural divisions of a dramatic work, usually, in a play, from one to five in number. 2) To perform, to represent a character in a dramatic production. Hence acting. 3) A solo performance created and/or presented by the performer, as in "a Las Vegas act."
ACT CURTAIN A curtain behind the fireproof curtain, and behind the grand drape, if there is one, closing the proscenium opening, and raised (or drawn) to reveal the stage during an act or scene.
ACT DROP Victorian stretched framed and painted canvas. Used as a visual stimulation during scene changes, and to indicate that there was more to come. Term now used to refer to any front cloth or tabs lowered during intervals. Especially pantomime / musicals.
ACT WARNING A stage manager's call to actors and crew to announce the timing remaining before the beginning of an act, or scene.
ACTING AREA That area within the performance space within which the actor may move in full view of the audience. Also, a specific portion of such an area actually used for acting during all or part of a performance.
ACTION 1) The physical movement of an actor on the stage. 2) The movement or development of the plot of a dramatic work, or an incident in that movement, as it is revealed or meant to be revealed by actors on the stage through dialogue, physical movement, etc. Short for "dramatic action."
ACTIVE A piece of circuitry is termed active if it needs a power supply for it to function. (Active DI box, Active crossover etc.) Circuitry that needs no additional power supply is termed passive (e.g. resistors & capacitors in a crossover). Passive circuits use the electrical sound signal itself to operate the components. OR A piece of circuitry is termed active if it amplifies a signal supplied to it. A passive circuit does not increase the level of a signal.
ACTOR Originally a male performer in a play, with "actress" used for women. Today, "actor" is increasingly used for both male and female performers.
ACTOR-PROOF Said of a role or script that is certain to be effective even if badly acted.
AD LIB To add lines or business not in the script, or songs or music not in the score, especially as improvisation.
ADJUDICATION The process of evaluating a production entered into a theatre festival or other competition, by a group of people (adjudicators) with a wide range of theatrical training and experience. Adjudication is considered to be an educational process, in which the adjudicators provide a verbal report of their reactions to each production (normally, immediately after the production) for the benefit of the producing company and the audience. Adjudicators also determine which productions will advance to the next level of competition (as in the AACTFest cycle), and may also award first place and second place awards.
ADJUDICATOR A person with a wide range of theatrical training and experience, who views productions entered in a festival (such as AACTFest) and who shares his or her reactions with the participants and audience.
ADVANCE BAR Lighting bar positioned just downstage of the proscenium arch.
ADVANCE MAN A representative in charge of business arrangements who proceeds a touring company.
AERIAL Cable or rod used to send and receive radio signals (connected to transmitter and receiver or tuner).
AERO A type of high-intensity Par lamp that derives its name from its use as an aircraft landing lamp. The true Aero is 28V and 250W, although there are many variations. The lamp has a very tight beam.
AESTHETIC DISTANCE The maintaining of artistic illusion by sufficient physical or other separation or detachment.
AFFECTIVE MEMORY In the Stanislavski method, the recollection of feelings that an actor has experienced and can use on the stage.
AFTER-PIECE, AFTERPIECE A play, dance, etc., especially a short one, performed after the principal offering.
AGC Automatic Gain Control. Circuitry within recording equipment which compensates for differences in volume in the incoming sound signal by adjusting the gain automatically. Helps to reduce wild swings in volume.
AGENT An intermediary who performs certain business services in the theatre world, such as helping actors obtain engagements and helping dramatists find producers for their compositions. Hence, agency.
AISLE A passage through the seating area.
ALARUM Obsolete term for a call to arms by drums or trumpets. Especially Elizabethan, a stage direction. Sometimes "alarums and excursions."
ALLEGORY A dramatic work or a portion of one that expresses meaning by means of personification and symbolism; for example, the medieval morality play. In an allegory, characters may be named "Everyman," "Lust," "Greed," "Death," "Mr. Money," etc.
ALTERNATE 1) One or two actors who alternate in a specific role. 2) An understudy.
AMATEUR 1) A theater company whose participants (particularly actors) work without salary. 2) A person who acts without pay; sometimes used in ridicule to mean "not of high caliber." In actuality, the term comes from the Latin root meaning "to love," in this case, to do something for the love of it rather than for profit.
AMATEUR RIGHTS Permission from the playwright (via the representative or publisher) to produce the play by a theater company whose participants (particularly actors) work without salary. Unlike professional royalties, which demand a percentage of the gross, amateur royalties are finalized up front. In some cases a flat royalty is charged (for example, $50 for the first performance, $40 for each successive performance). In many cases, however, the fee is based on theater seating capacity, average ticket price, and the number of performances.
AMP 1) AMPERE, the standard unit for measurement of electrical current passing through a circuit. Cables, fuses and switches are designated by their current carrying capacity. Square pin plugs are rated at 13 Amps maximum and Round pin plugs at either 5 Amps or 15 Amps maximum, depending on the size of the pins. If a cable rated at 5 Amps is used with a load of 15 Amps, the cable will overheat and possibly catch fire. 2) AMPLIFIER - sound equipment that converts the low voltage, low current signal from a tape deck, mixer etc. into a higher current signal suitable for driving speakers. See Power Amplifier, Crossover.
AMPHITEATRE An auditorium, outdoors or indoors, circular, semicircular, or elliptical in shape, in which a central arena is more or less surrounded by rising banks of seats.
AMPLITUDE The strength of a vibrating wave ; in sound, the loudness of the sound.
ANALOG SIGNAL A continuously variable signal that can have any value over a given range. For example, an analog voltage within the range 0 to 10 Volts can have values of 0, 2, 8.785 or any value between. Most dimmers require an analog voltage in order to operate (from 0 to -10V or 0 to +10V depending on the manufacturer). Most lighting control desks produce a digital multiplexed output, which is converted by a demux box to an analog signal for the dimmer. See also Digital Dimmer.
ANGEL A person who invests in a prospective production.
ANSI CODE ANSI is an abbreviation for American National Standards Institute. ANSI Code refers to a three-letter system that has been devised to describe lamps of different manufacture but the same application. The letters have no relationship to lamp description, but the same letters always designate the same type of lamp. Some of the application parameters they define include wattage, base type, envelope size, and light center length.
ANTAGONIST A principal role, opposed to that of the protagonist or hero.
ANTICLIMAX or ANTI-CLIMAX A point in a dramatic piece, after the climax, which may emphasize the meaning of the climax by some lesser tension, or may merely lessen the effect of the climax, sometimes to absurdity.
APPEAR To act, as in to appear in a play or a part. Hence, appearance.
APPLICATION A copyrighted work cannot be produced legally until you receive written permission from the author's representative. An application for rights typically includes: name and address of the producing organization; phone and fax numbers; name of show; dates of desired performance(s); number of performances; name of theater/auditorium; seating capacity of theater/auditorium; and ticket prices. The processing time for an application can vary from two days to two weeks or more. If the title is available for the dates indicated on the application, fees are quoted and a license is generated.
APPRENCTICE A person who serves without pay in an acting company in order to learn about acting or other aspects of theatrical work.
APRON Section of the stage floor which projects towards or into the auditorium. In proscenium theatres, the part of the stage in front of the house tabs, or in front of the proscenium arch.
ARBOR Metal frame in which counterweights are carried in a flying system. Also called a cradle.
ARC 1) An "arc" is light caused by an electrical discharge between two electrodes in a gas such as xenon, argon, or air. 2) Short for carbon arc spotlight, hence arc-lighting. Obsolete.
ARCH 1) An opening in a piece of scenery, representing an arch or a space of some other shape intended to remain empty or to be filled with a door, window, or the like. 2) A flat in the form of an arch. 3) Shaped like an arch.
ARCHITECTURAL LAMP A type of linear filament lamp with contacts at 90 degrees to the filament which can give the appearance of a continuous line of light (similar to neon, but dimmable).
ARCLINE (Trade Name) A colored plastic tube containing a number of small strobe units which, when triggered, flash in sequence down the tube. Many tubes can be connected together.
ARE YOU DECENT? "Are you dressed to receive visitors?" Query made at a dressing room door before entering.
ARENA Form of stage where the audience is seated on at least two (normally three, or all four) sides of the whole acting area.
ARRANGE To adapt a score for orchestral use.
ARRAS 1) A drape curtain loosely suspended across a stage. 2) A curtain or tapestry used to screen a door, or serving as a wall hanging.
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE A person from the professional theatre, employed for a specified period to train others (usually university students) in acting or other theatre arts.
ASBESTOS CURTAIN Now obsolete. The fire or fireproof or safety curtain.
ASIDE A speech or monologue, usually fairly short, to convey a character's thoughts or other information to the audience, while in the presence of other characters, some or all of whom are supposed not to overhear. A stage convention and frequently a stage direction. Often used in melodrama.
ASM Assistant Stage Manager
AT LIBERTY Having no current acting engagement, out of work, available for casting.
AT RISE At the moment when the rising curtain first discloses a scene.
ATMOSPHERE 1) The mood, the general emotional quality, of all or part of a dramatic piece or of its representation. Hence (of lighting, scenery, etc., created to establish a mood) atmospheric, atmospheric lighting, etc. 2) The normal background sound at any location.
ATTENUATE To reduce the intensity of a sound signal.
AUDITION 1) A try-out hearing, usually competitive, of an actor or other performers seeking employment or to be cast in a play. Hence, to audition for, to be auditioned. 2) A reading aloud of a dramatic work to prospective investors.
AUDITORIUM The part of the theatre accommodating the audience during the performance. Sometimes known as the "house."
AUTOCAD The term given to the industry-standard CAD (Computer Assisted Design) software program for architects and designers. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) contains a cut-down version of Autocad, along with visualisation tools.
AUTOMATED LIGHT A lighting instrument in which certain functions such as panning, tilting, focusing, dimming, beam shaping and coloring, etc., are motorized and remotely operated from a control console. Sometimes called an "intelligent light."
AUTOMATION 1) Facility available on larger sound mixing desks allowing channel muting or even fader moves to be taken under the control of a computer to ensure accurate and repeatable mixing. 2) Describes the method used instead of stage crew for moving bits of set around shows with a big budget.
AUXILIARY INPUT A route back into the sound desk for a signal sent to a piece of outboard equipment via an auxiliary send.
AUXILIARY OUTPUT An additional output from a sound desk which can be used for foldback or monitoring without tying up the main outputs. Each input channel will have a path to the Aux buss. Also used for feeding a signal to an effects processor. Also known as "Return."
AVANT GARDE Any fresh leadership in theatrical production, but more especially a realistic movement toward greater freedom in expression. Daring, unusual. From the French expression meaning "advanced guard" or "vanguard."
BABY SPOTLIGHT A small spotlight used at a short distance to give sharp illumination to an actor's face, or to a limited portion of the acting area.
BACK (verb) To invest in a prospective production.
BACK DROP or BACKDROP A large curtain, usually painted to represent the sky, a landscape, or some other background, dropped upstage to form the back of a wing set and to mask the backstage space; now commonly supplanted by a cyclorama.
BACK FLAT A flat used at the back of the stage.
BACK LIGHTING or BACKLIGHTING The illumination of a scene from behind the actors, usually from the back of the stage.
BACK OF THE HOUSE The parts of the theatre behind the proscenium, or behind the stage setting.
BACK PIECE or BACK-PIECE A wig for the back of the head only.
BACK STAGE or BACKSTAGE Collectively, the parts of the theatre that lie behind the proscenium arch (or behind the back wall of the stage setting), including the stage, the workshops, the dressing rooms, and the areas and spaces beside, above, or under the stage. Sometimes used only to refer to the dressing rooms and green rooms, or even just the off-stage areas.
BACK WALL The rear wall of the stage or stage setting.
BACKER A person who invests in a prospective production; an angel.
BACKFLAP A pin hinge capable of being turned back on itself, used to join flats.
BACKGROUND 1) The setting or scenic display before which actors perform (short for scenic background). 2) In a script, previous events, environment. 3) Background music.
BACKGROUND SCENE An expository scene in which the events and dialogue indicate the time, the place, or other information needed by the spectator.
BACKING 1) Scenic piece as a backing behind an opening in the set (window etc.) which hides the technical areas beyond. 2) The money invested in a commercial production (by a Backer).
BACKING LIGHT A low-wattage light, used to give diffused illumination to the space beyond openings such as doors, and placed behind, or less often in front of a backing.
BACKLIGHT Light coming from upstage, behind scenery or actors, to sculpt and separate them from the background.
BAD LAUGH An audience's laugh at the wrong moment.
BAFFLE 1) A sheet of material used to prevent a spill of light in a instrument or in part of a set. 2) A panel in a loudspeaker cabinet or a board or sheet of other material used in sound equipment to limit echo or sound spill. 3) A panel in an auditorium positioned so as to reduce sound reflections and improve the acoustics of the space.
BALANCE The equalization of the stage picture, composition, and action, so that the position and movements of the actors, the design of the set, lighting and costumes all are in a well-proportioned relationship.
BALCONY A seating area above the orchestra section of the auditorium. Sometimes a part of this area, particularly in front, is the location for equipment, hence the term "balcony lighting."
BALCONY FRONT The vertical front face of a balcony to which is fastened lighting equipment.
BALCONY STAGE In Elizabethan theatre, an area of the balcony used for a playing area.
BALLAD A song, usually, simple, sentimental, short, and narrative, used in musical comedy.
BALLAD OPERA A light satirical comedy, consisting of dialogue in verse or prose, plus songs set to popular and folk tunes. 18th and early 19th centuries. "The Beggar's Opera" is the best-known example.
BALLAST An electrical apparatus that limits the electrical current in a particular circuit, usually a circuit containing an arc source. An "arc" is light caused by an electrical discharge between two electrodes in a gas such as xenon, argon, or air.
BALLYHOO Moving a followspot beam around in a figure-eight pattern.
BANK A group of lighting units or dimmers arranged in rows.
BARN DOORS An apparatus with adjustable flaps, usually 2, 4 or 8, that attaches to the front of a lighting instrument. It is used to block or shape the beam--for example, to keep light from hitting the front or side edge of the stage.
BASIC SITUATION The central dramatic situation in a play.
BASS Lower end of the musical scale. In acoustics, the range (below about 200Hz) in which there are difficulties, principally in the reproduction of sound, due to the large wavelengths involved.
BATTEN A narrow strip of wood used to make or reinforce the frame of a flat, to fasten flats together, to stiffen a drop, to suspend a hanging piece of scenery or equipment. A length of metal pipe is sometimes used for the latter purpose, called a batten or pipe batten.
BEAM Light rays, particularly the width of light projected by a lighting instrument.
BEAM ANGLE The angle of the cone of light produced by a instrument. Defined as the angle within which the lowest intensity in a beam of light from a instrument is not less than one-tenth of the maximum.
BEAM PROJECTOR Flood instrument which uses a parabolic reflector and a low voltage high intensity lamp to produce an intense near-parallel beam. Also known as a Beamlight.
BEDROOM FARCE A farce in which a risque bedroom scene is exploited.
BELOW 1) Downstage. 2) Under the stage.
BENEFIT A theatrical performance, the profits of which are given to some cause or person.
BETWEEN ENGAGEMENTS Unemployed as an actor.
BILL A playbill or program distributed at a theatre.
BILLING Acting credit, particularly on a poster, marquee, or in an ad.
BIRDIE A compact display lighting instrument containing a Par 16 lamp. So called because it is similar to, but much smaller than, the Parcan, and is hence (in a play on golf terms) "one under Par."
BIT A very minor speaking or silent role. Hence, bit actor, bit part.
BLACK Black velvet or velour curtain or drape used to mask the sides or tops of the stage.
BLACK BOX An unadorned performance space, typically a large room with four walls and no assigned seating or playing areas. Walls are typically painted black, hence the name. The black box is popular because it can be configured in many different ways, with actors on the floor, or on a platform; the audience can also be seated on the floor or on platforms.
BLACK LIGHT When everything else is dark, a black (ultra-violet) light makes certain objects glow in the dark. This is because certain objects "fluoresce" under ultraviolet (UV) light, which is what a black light emits.
BLACKFACE A face covered by black makeup, to represent a person of color. Used extensively in minstrel shows from the 19th century well into the middle of the 20th century, but now considered offensive.
BLACKOUT or BLACK-OUT or BLACK OUT 1) To darken a stage suddenly, enhancing the effect of stage action and permitting a swift change of scenery. 2) Complete absence of stage lighting. Blue working lights backstage should remain on and are not usually under the control of the board, except during a Dead Blackout (DBO), when there is no onstage light. Exit signs and other emergency lighting must remain on at all times.
BLACKS 1) Black clothing worn by stage management during productions. 2) Any black drapes or tabs, permanently or temporarily rigged. Used for masking technical areas.
BLANK A gun cartridge with powder but no metal tip, allowing for the sound of a gunshot without a bullet.
BLEED Dimmers which are incorrectly trimmed are said to bleed. That is, the dimmer still gives a small output, causing the instrument to glow, when the control signal is at a minimum.
BLEED THROUGH Transformation from a scene downstage of a scrim to another scene upstage, by slowly crossfading lighting from downstage to upstage. If a scrim is lit steeply, or from the sides, it will appear solid. If this light is turned off and light added to the set upstage of it, it will disappear.
BLEND 1) To smooth out makeup. 2) To dry-brush freshly painted scenery, so that two colors are irregularly smoothed together, avoiding color monotony. 3) To adjust body movement, acting style, or vocal mannerisms to those of other actors for a more harmonious effect. Hence to blend in. 4) To adjust state lighting, so as to favor an even illumination as an actor passes from one stage area to another.
BLIND SEAT A seat from which a spectator can see only part of the stage.
BLOCK 1) A wood or steel frame, in which turn one or more pulleys to take fly lines. 2) A number of theatre seats, taken together. 3) The director's work of positioning actors onstage and setting their entrances, exits, and other movement, as in "to block a scene." The director usually does this by making notations in a working script, then uses these notes to work with the actors early in the rehearsal period. Blocking provides the framework for the movement in a scene, and is recorded in the prompt book by the stage manager, assistant director, or even the director him/herself.
BLOW In acting, to forget one's lines or business, as to blow the scene (from 'to blow up').
BOARD The main control for the stage lighting. Originally known as the switchboard or dimmer board, it is now usually remote from the dimmers. The lighting operator for a show is said to be "on the board".
BOOK 1) Script. One is said to be "off book" when a script is no longer permitted onstage during rehearsal. 2) The spoken lines in a musical, as distinguished from the music and lyrics.
BOOK FLAT Two-fold piece of scenery. Book flats are free-standing when angled open, allowing quick setting and compact storage. Booking describes the action of opening or closing a book flat.
BOOK SHOW A musical with a plot or storyline, as opposed to a revue.
BOOM 1) A light tree or vertical scaffolding pole on which horizontal boom arms can be mounted, carrying instruments. Often used behind wings for side-lighting etc. Booms have a base plate or stand at the bottom and are tied off to the grid or fly floor at the top (not always necessary for short booms). Booms can also be fixed to the rear of the proscenium arch or hanging from the ends of lighting bars. 2) An arm mounted on a microphone stand.
BOOTH A place, usually enclosed and at the back of the auditorium, from which an electrician can operate lighting and sound equipment.
BORDER 1) A strip of curtain stretched horizontally across the front top of the stage behind the proscenium arch, fastened to a batten and fixed, used to form the top of a setting and mask the flies and lights. When several are used, they are often numbered towards the upstage area (first border, second border, etc.) or named for the scenes painted on them (foliage border, sky border, etc.)
BOUNCE 1) Diffuse light that has been reflected from the stage, walls, cyc etc. 2) Describes the fast in/out movement of "bouncing" the flown house curtain or drape, used during curtain calls. This can also apply to the fast blackout/lights up cues that happen at curtain calls.
BOX BOOM A front-of-house vertical lighting position (predominantly sidelight).
BOX OFFICE or BOX-OFFICE An office in a theatre, commonly in the outer lobby, where tickets are sold.
BOX SET Naturalistic setting of a complete room built from flats with only the side nearest the audience (the "fourth wall") missing.
BRACE 1) Angled strengthening timber within a flat. 2) Support for scenery (flattage) on stage. An extendable brace hooks into a screw eye on the flat and is weighted to the floor (commonly known as a "Stage Brace") A French brace is a right-angled non-adjustable triangular frame, made from timber, and attached to the flat with pin hinges. Often swung flush to the flat for storage or flying.
BRACE WEIGHT Cast iron weight placed on foot of extendible or French brace to prevent movement. Often referred to as a "Stage Weight" or "Pig" (as in pig iron).
BRAIL A rope, wire or chain attached at either end of a piece of scenery or lighting bar pulling it upstage or downstage of its naturally hanging position to allow another flying item to pass, or to improve its position.
BRAVO A shouted word of applause, meaning "Excellent!" The Italian forms "brava" (for an actress) and "bravi" (for two or more actors) are also used.
BREAK A LEG A superstitious and widely accepted alternative to "Good Luck" (which is considered bad luck in the theatre).
BREAK CHARACTER In acting, saying or doing something that is not in keeping with the character one is portraying. Most often this is accidental, as when an actor forgets a line or bit of business, or when distracted by an occurrence in the audience or offstage.
BREAK UP Too play a joke on a fellow actor so as to interrupt the delivery of his/her lines. Hence, an interruption caused by such a joke.
BREAKAWAY Prop or item of furniture designed to break/shatter with impact. Breakaway furniture and some props are usually capable of restoration to be "broken" again.
BRIDGE A walkway, giving access to technical and service areas above the stage or auditorium, or linking fly-floors.
BRING UP THE LIGHTS To increase the illumination.
BROADWAY The principal avenue running through the theatre district of New York City near Times Square, and thus the district, and collectively the theatres on or near this avenue; by extension, the commercial theatre of New York. The British equivalent is the West End.
BUILD 1) During lighting plotting, to construct a state from blackout, or to add to an existing state. 2) An increase in light or sound level. 3) The act of constructing a set or a costume.
BUMP To change the intensity of a lighting instrument or group of instruments instantaneously, usually for a short duration of time, and often to the beat of music as if to create a pulsing effect. Also, to turn up the lights, as in "Let's bump up the lights."
BURLESQUE 1) Originally, a play parodying drama or other literature in the 17th and 18th centuries. Later, a lighter, less literary, more absurd satire, with song and dance, well into the 19th century. Now any comic entertainment or revue sketch that pokes fun at current manners and mores. 2) A low comedy show featuring women in scanty costumes, bawdy humor, well into the middle of the 20th century.
BURNT CORK A makeup material used for blackening the skin.
BURNT OUT A colored gel that has lost its color or melted through due to excessive heat in front of a instrument. Dark blues and greens etc. are most susceptible, and may need replacing during a long run.
BUTTON In staging musicals, the "button" is a final stage picture usually before a blackout or fadeout. It is a visual clue to the audience that works much like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. It's also an obvious way to beg for applause and, in effect, the applause becomes the "button." Thus “buttoning a scene” means finding a satisfactory conclusion that also leaves the audience wanting more.
C CLAMP Heavy metal clamp used for securing heavy items to a batten, pole, standard, etc. Requires a spanner/wrench to tighten.
CABARET A night club, restaurant, or the like, where performers dance and sing; the entertainment so provided. The audience is normally seated at small tables.
CABLE 1) Noun: Wiring, temporarily rigged, to carry electrical current. Depending on the size of the cable (current carrying capacity), cables are used to supply individual instruments, whole dimmer racks, or carry signals from a microphone etc. 2) Verb: As in "to cable," meaning to link two electrical elements with cabling.
CABLE GRIP A U-shaped clip and saddle used for terminating wire rope. Also known as a Bulldog, Dog Grip or Wire Rope Clip.
CABLE TIE Lockable (and sometimes releasable) plastic strap used to tie a bundle of cables together, among many other things.
CAD Computer-Aided Design. Using a computer to help with 2D plans and drawings, or increasingly for 3D visualization of how a set will look, and how lighting will affect it.
CALL 1) A notification of a working session, such as a rehearsal call. 2) The period of time to which the above call refers--for example, "Your call for tomorrow night's show is 7:00 p.m." 3) A stage manager's announcement to summon actors to the stage. A request for an actor to come to the stage because an entrance is imminent is a courtesy call and should not be relied on by actors - e.g. "This is your call for the finale Mr. Smith and Miss Jones") 4) An acknowledgement of applause (e.g. Curtain Call) 5) A technical staff person with the script (book) is said to be "calling the cues," especially in terms of stage lighting cues.
CAMEO ROLE A minor role with particularly attractive acting possibilities.
CAMLOCK (Trade Name) Single pole connector used on professional power distribution & dimming systems. A separate connector is used for each phase/neutral of the supply. Originally developed for touring concerts, as power demands increase it's finding more use in theatres.
CANTILEVERED STRUCTURE A concealed support behind an overhanging scenic piece onstage, such as a balcony.
CANVAS Sturdy material, usually heavy cotton, used to cover flats as a less heavy (and less expensive) alternative to plywood.
CAPACITY The total number of seats available for the audience, as in seating capacity.
CARDIOD A cardioid microphone exhibits an acoustic pickup pattern that, when graphed in two dimensions, resembles a cardioid shape.
CARPET HOIST In the counterweight system of stage rigging, a way of separately counterbalancing a scenic piece, or a property such as a carpet, so that it can be lowered and detached from its lines for use during a performance without the removal of the weights.
CARRY 1) To act so that the audience can see and hear clearly. "His voice carries to be back row." 2) To be the acting mainstay of a production, as in "The supporting actors are fine, but Cyrano really carries the show."
CAST LIST A list of actors with their roles.
CASTING The process of the director choosing actors to perform the characters in the play.
CASTING AGENT A person who engages to find actors for a production.
CASTING DIRECTOR A casting agent in charge of subordinate casting agents.
CASTING OFFICE A company that makes available suitable actors for a producer.
CASUALS Mostly British: Part-time temporary technicians (paid by the hour).
CAT CALL or CATCALL A noise, originally one like the cry of a cat, uttered or produced by an instrument, to show disapproval. Now generic to any sound of disapproval, usually from an audience.
CATHARSIS A Greek term for the emotional release (literally purgation or purification) in a spectator of a staged tragedy. Aristotle believed that tragedies were healthy outlets for emotion, and thus a deeply moving experience is often called "cathartic."
CATWALK An access walkway to equipment. Unlike a bridge, not necessarily across a void.
CEILING A flat, in one piece, or hinged in two or more pieces, or a cloth or drape, hung horizontally to form the top of an interior set, concealing the flies.
CENSOR To cause a dramatic piece or production to be suppressed or altered by governmental action, when it does not conform to legal requirements (now chiefly nudity or obscenity). Also the name of a government official charged with this responsibility--although commonly not so titled. Hence, censorship.
CENSORSHIP Strictly speaking, censorship is a governmental action, in which a play or production is altered or even banned because it violates certain statutes, such as for nudity, language, or blasphemy. While the term is often used loosely to refer to any changes to a script, or any decision not to produce a play, such usage stretches the meaning considerably.
CENTER LINE Imaginary line running down the stage through the exact center of the proscenium opening. Often marked as CL on stage plans. Normally marked on the stage floor and used as a reference when marking out or assembling a set.
CENTER OF INTEREST The point in a stage picture upon which the attention of the audience is meant to rest, shifting with the movements of the actors, lighting, or other reasons.
CHANNEL 1) A complete control path for signals in lighting or sound equipment. 2) In stereo recordings, the two outputs are referred to as left channel and right channel.
CHARACTER 1) One of the characters in a play. 2) A type of personality portrayed on the stage, as in "I need to get into character," or "Please, stay in character."
CHARACTER ACTOR An actor who specializes in one or more roles that call for characteristics quite different from his/her, as the roles of old men, gangsters, society matrons, etc.
CHARACTER PART An acting role calling for emphasis on the characteristic peculiarities (e.g., the amorous old man, the shrewish wife, the foreigner with an accent, etc.)
CHASE Repeated sequence of changing lighting states that gives the effect of the moving lights, as in "chase lights."
CHEAT SHEET 1) A smaller version of the lighting plan, used by the lighting designer during the lighting plot. 2) Any such version of a complete list, including a cheat sheet for costumes, sets, cues, etc.
CHECK 1) Opposite of Build; a smooth diminishment of light or sound level. 2) A test of an electronic or other technical system, as in to run a sound check.
CHEW THE SCENERY To overact, especially in emotional scenes. Sometimes, also scene chewer.
CHIEF ELECTRICIAN The senior member of the theatre's stage lighting team, although not necessarily the lighting designer.
CHILDREN'S THEATRE A theatre specializing in entertainment for children. The onstage participants may nor may not be children themselves.
CHINAGRAPH PENCIL Usually white, wax-based pencil used for marking magnetic tape prior to splicing. Also used for marking identifying numbers of lighting gels.
CHOREOGRAPHER One who designs (and often directs) the dances and stage movement in a musical production.
CHOREOGRAPHY The creation and preparation of stage dances.
CHORINE A former term for a chorus girl.
CHORUS 1) A group of singers and/or dancers performing as a unit; group singing or dancing; a song or part of a song to be sung by more than on person. 2) A group or even a single actor who provides commentary on the action of a play, as in a Greek tragedy. 3) In musical theatre, songs traditionally were constructed in verse-chorus format. The verse sets up the song and is often particular to character and situation; the chorus is the main tune and the one most people remember. For example, in "The Surry With the Fringe On Top," the verse begins "When I take you out tonight with me…." and the chorus begins "Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry" and continues to the end of the song.
CIRCLE The balcony with tiered seating above the stalls. Also known as Dress Circle or Grand Circle.
CIRCUIT 1) The means by which a instrument is connected to a dimmer or patch panel. Numbered for reference. 2) A complete electrical "loop" around which current can flow.
CIRCUIT BREAKER An electro-mechanical "fuse" that can be reset, rather than having to be replaced. Available in the same ratings as fuses.
CLAPTRAP or CLAP-TRAP Originally, a noisemaking device used to stimulate applause. Now, any exaggerated or artificial gesture, rhetorical delivery, or content.
CLAQUE A group of people hired to lead the applause.
CLASSIC ACTING An acting style marked by restraint and formality in the depiction of passion, by polished, stately movement, gesture, and delivery.
CLASSICAL DRAMA Greek and Roman drama; drama that imitates Greek or Roman models.
CLEAR A command by the stage manager before the curtain rises to get stagehands and unneeded actors off the stage. Also "Clear the stage."
CLEAT Piece of timber or metal for tying off a rope line. Used when flying or for holding scenic pieces together with a cleat line.
CLEAT LINE Rope passed through cleats on two adjacent flats alternately to hold the flats together.
CLIMAX The point in a dramatic work, or one of its parts, at which the interest or emotional effect is most intense. In acting, a rising climax is marked by quicker movement and a higher pitch of the voice, and a falling climax by no less suspense but by a seemingly calmer demonstration of intensity.
CLIPPING Distortion in a sound signal caused by an amplifier or mixer being unable to handle the level of signal being fed to it.
CLOSE 1) To conclude or end a production. A show closes at the end of its last performance. 2) To perform in the last number on a program, as in "She closed the show with a salute to the Armed Forces."
CLOVE HITCH Invaluable knot that every technician should know.
CLOWN WHITE A makeup material (now mostly zinc oxide) used by clowns and other performers who must appear pale or white-faced.
COLOR CHANGER 1) Scroller, where a long string of up to 16 colors is passed horizontally in front of a lamp. Remotely controlled by the lighting desk. 2) Wheel : Electrically or manually operated disc which is fitted to the front of a lamp with several apertures holding different color filters which can be selected to enable color changes. Can also be selected to run continuously. 3) Semaphore, where framed colors are electrically lowered into place in front of the lamp. Remotely controllable. Can perform additive color mixing by lowering two colors into position at the same time. 4) Magazine : Manual semaphore-type device used on the front of a followspot.
COLOR FILTER A sheet of plastic usually composed of a colored resin sandwiched between two clear pieces. The colored filter absorbs all the colors of light except the color of the filter itself, which it allows through. For this reason, denser colors get very hot, and can burn out very quickly. At one time, filters were made from gelatin, from which came the still-used name "gel."
COLOR MIXING Combining the effects of two or more lighting gels. 1) Additive : Focusing two differently colored beams of light onto the same area (e.g. cyc floods). Combining colors in this way adds the colors together, eventually arriving at white. The three primary colors additively mix to form white, as do the complementary colors. 2) Subtractive : Placing two different gels in front of the same lamp. Subtractive mixing is used to obtain a color effect that is not available from stock or from manufacturers. Because the ranges of color are so wide, the need for subtractive mixing is reducing. Combining colors in this way reduces the light towards blackness. The three primary colors mix subtractively to form black (or to block all the light).
COMEDY A play, varying over the centuries in its characteristics, but generally light and humorous, with a happy ending. Comedy is more thoughtful than farce, more realistic in character and situation.
COMEDY OF CHARACTER A comedy that relies on character study for its chief interest, as opposed to slapstick, farce or other stylistic approaches.
COMEDY OF HUMORS A realistic, satiric comedy in which the dramatic action evolves from a single dominant trait in the character of each person satirized. 17th & 18th centuries.
COMEDY OF MANNERS A comedy that is gay, witty, sophisticated, and usually set against a background of aristocratic or well-to-do society. The terms "comedy of manners," "drawing-room comedy" and "high comedy" are often interchangeable.
COMEDY-DRAMA A play somewhat heavier than comedy, but with a happy ending.
COMIC OPERA A musical dramatic entertainment consisting of dialogue both spoken and sung, with comic incidents and characters and a happy ending. Sometimes synonymous with musical comedy, but more often used to refer to late 19th century works such as those by Gilbert & Sullivan.
COMIC RELIEF A comic or farcical scene or incident introduced into tragedy or any serious play to give the audience a momentary respite from emotional tension before further tension is required.
COMMAND PERFORMANCE In Britain, a performance given at the royal family's request By extension, even in the U.S., it has come to mean a required event or activity.
COMMEDIA DELL'ARTE A comedy of stock characters with masks, in which the actors improve on a prearranged scenario. Developed in Italy, 16th to 18th centuries, but influential on acting and dramatic forms ever since.
COMMUNITY THEATRE "Community theatre" generally refers to a nonprofit theatre company that serves a locality, relies heavily on volunteers, and does not use Equity (union) actors on a regular basis. Community theatres tend to be operated for local recreation, education, and commonly seek to obtain the patronage and production participation of the community as a whole. Note that the spelling of "theater" or "theatre" is a matter of choice. "Theatre" is most common in Great Britain and France. In the United States, both spellings are used.
COMPANDER Outboard sound equipment. Combination of a Compressor and an Expander.
COMPANY 1) The cast, crew and other staff associated with a show. 2) The theatre organization, a theatre company. 3) A group of actors appearing together in one or more dramatic performances.
COMPLEMENTARY COLORS Pairs of colors which, when additively mixed, combine to produce white light. Examples are red + cyan, green + magenta, and yellow + blue.
COMPLIMENTARY A seat or ticket that is provided free, as to a reviewer, parents of a cast member, a contributor or other supporter.
COMPRESSOR 1) A device that pumps out liquids or air under pressure, usually for spraying paint or chemicals. 2) A piece of sound processing equipment that ensures all wanted signals are suitably placed between the noise and distortion levels of the recording medium. It evens out the unwanted changes in volume you get with close-miking, and in doing so, adds punch to the sound mix. A limiter is used to stop a signal from exceeding a preset limit. Beyond this limit, the signal level will not increase, no matter how loud the input becomes. A limiter is often used to protect speaker systems (and human ears) by preventing a system from becoming too loud.
CONCESSIONAIRE A person who buys the right to operate a refreshment stand or similar business supported by the purchases of theatre patrons.
CONDENSER LENS Loosely applied to any spotlight lens which condenses diverging rays into a beam, but more correctly to the short focus combination of two or more lenses in a jacket used for illuminating a slide or effect disc. Also used in some profile lamps and followspots to produce a smoother light (especially for gobo work).
CONDENSER MIC A microphone that uses the varying capacitance between two plates with a voltage applied across them to convert sound to electrical pulses. Condenser microphones need a power supply to provide the voltage across the plates, which may be provided by a battery within the case of the microphone, or it may be provided from an external phantom power supply. A condenser mic is more sensitive and has a faster reaction to percussive sounds than a Dynamic mic and produces a more even response.
CONDUIT Metal or plastic pipe used to carry electrical conductors as part of a permanent electrical installation. Also used to add weight to the bottom of a flown cloth.
CONFIDANT or CONFIDANTE The role of a close friend of a principal character, used dramatically for purposes of exposition, characterization, or development of dramatic action. The lead character can thus express ideas, explain feelings, or outline plans of action in a very natural way.
CONTACT MIC A microphone that directly picks up the sound transmitted by a solid material.
CONTRACT To secure the rights to perform a work, a theatre company must sign a binding legal document in which your company agrees to all stipulations therein. When you sign the contract and it is approved, you will be granted a license to perform the play. Read the contract carefully before signing, since it sets forth the number of performances, the performance venue, cost of tickets, and production dates that you provided the playwright's representative. When you are granted a performance license, by law the show you license must be performed "as is." Otherwise, any changes violate the authors' rights under federal copyright law. (See below) If you offer more than the contracted number of performances, or charge more than the contract says, or if your theater holds more people than you stated in your application, you are liable to legal action.
CONTRAST Diversity, variation, used to heighten interest, as in dramatic construction, acting, lighting, set design.
CONTRIVED Said of a character, and ending, etc., which is arranged by a dramatist, perhaps artfully, without concerns for plausibility.
CONVENTION 1) A method or style of production that acknowledges the artificiality of the stage, rather than reproduce the conditions of actual life outside the theatre. 2) Short for Stage Convention (which see).
CONVERSATION PIECE A play that emphasizes dialogue rather than action or movement.
COOL COLOR Generally, a color that is in the blue/green/purple range, as opposed to a warm (yellow/orange/red).
COPYRIGHT A legal privilege enabling the owner of a dramatic piece to control its performance and publication during a fixed period of time. Also to register work for copyright. Playwrights protect their ownership of their work by copyrighting it. This allows them or their representatives to decide who may perform the show, where it may be performed, how it may be performed, and how much will be charged for licensing the work. Copyright also allows the author to demand that you present the play as written, with no changes, unless granted by the playwright or representative. Without prior permission your actions will subject you to legal action for breaching the terms of your license. If you feel you must experiment with re-conceiving a show, there are many already in the public domain (Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, Oscar Wilde) that are no longer protected by copyright. Note the spelling with "right," not "write." The word "copyright" literally means owning the rights to making a copy.
Copywrite Incorrect spelling for copyright (which see).
CORNER PLATE A triangle of plywood used to strengthen the corners of a flat.
COSTUME DRAMA A dramatic piece that requires clothing not now current, and especially of a much earlier period.
COSTUME FITTING The trying on of a costume for fit and appearance, in the presence of a costumer.
COSTUME PARADE Cast members appear in costume, on stage and under state lighting, so that the costume designer and costume assistants can see how they look. At the same time, the director and lighting designer usually are present for their input as well.
COSTUME PLOT A list of characters, showing the costumes to be worn in a production, scene by scene.
COSTUMER Usually the costume designer, but sometimes the designer's chief assistant.
COUNT THE HOUSE 1) Determine the number of seats sold. 2) To stare at the audience while acting.
COUNTER In acting, to maintain the balance of the stage picture by moving across the stage in a direction opposite to that in which another actor has moved or is moving. For example, if two actors are standing stage left and a third joins them, one of the original two may cross in the other direction. This is, of course, if it also fits the sense of the scene.
Counter-Rake (or Counter Rake)

Refers to the modification of furniture or props by shortening the upstage legs (or lengthening the downstage portion in the case of solid units). so that they can stand level on a raked stage. 

COUNTERWEIGHT A standard weight (60 or 30 lb.) used in a counterweight flying system.
COUNTERWEIGHT SYSTEM Method of flying scenery which uses a cradle containing weights to counterbalance the weight of flown scenery.
COUP DE THEATRE 1) A Theatrical success. 2) A showy or sensational device in stagecraft. 3) A sudden and unforeseen--but not necessarily illogical--turn of events in the course of a play. A French expression, meaning "a theatrical stroke."
COVE Front of house catwalk lighting positions.
CREATE A ROLE To play in an acting role in the first production of a dramatic piece.
CREPE HAIR or CREPE WOOL An artificial, braided hair, commonly made of wool or vegetable fiber, in various colors, used in creating facial hair. It can be cut, combed and glued bit by bit to the face to form a beard, a mustache, sideburns, and eyebrows.
CRESCENT WRENCH An adjustable wrench, named for the curved shape of the tool. Sometimes called a C-wrench.
CREW The stage crew, the team of workers who handle technical chores during a performance.
CREW CHIEF or CREW HEAD The chief of the stage staff, in charge of building and shifting scenery.
CROSBYS A term for saddle and "U" cable clamps (from the manufacturers name).
CROSS To move across the stage from one position to another, especially when passing in front of another actor. Sometimes, a stage direction, as in "When Ellen enters, cross left."
CROSS FADE 1) Bringing up a new lighting area onstage while at the same time bringing down another area somewhere else on stage. 2) Also applies to sound effects/music.
CROSSLIGHT or CROSS-LIGHT To illuminate the stage with two crossing beams of light. Thus, to cross-light, and crosslighting.
CROSSOVER 1) A route leading from one side of the stage to the other, out of the audiences view. 2) An electronic filter in a sound system that routes sound of the correct frequency to the correct part of the speaker system. Different speakers handle high frequencies (tweeters) and low frequencies (woofers). Sometimes known as a crossover network. An active crossover splits the signal from the mixing desk into high, mid and low frequencies which are then sent to three separate amplifiers.
CSI Compact Source Iodide : A high intensity discharge lamp. Most often used in followspots, because it has a color temperature (approx. 4000K) close to that of the tungsten halogen lamps.
CUE 1) The last words of one actor's spoken dialogue, which the next actor to speak needs as a signal to begin. When actors leave dead space before beginning their lines of dialogue, a director may ask them to "Pick up your cues." 2) The spoken or written command given to technical staff to carry out a particular operation during a performance. A cue may indicate a change in lighting levels, run a sound effect, or close the main drape. Normally given by stage management, but may be taken directly from the action (i.e. a Visual Cue).
CUE LIGHT System for giving technical staff silent cues by light. Red light means stand-by or warn, green light means go. Ensures greater precision when visibility or audibility of actors is limited. Sometimes used for cueing actors onto the set. For technical cues, lights are normally now used just as a backup to cues given over the headset system.
CUE TO CUE Cutting out action and dialogue between cues during a technical rehearsal, to save time.
CUEING A standard sequence for giving verbal cues : "Stand-by Sound Cue 19" (Stand-by first) "Sound Cue 19 Go" (Go last).
CURTAIN A movable drape or screen of cloth used to conceal all or part of the stage. Sometimes short for the 'main curtain,' which rises or parts at the beginning of a performance, and falls or closes, at the end. In this sense, it is different from the act or scene curtain. By extension, the start of a performance ("What time is curtain on Sunday?")
CURTAIN CALL The appearance of the actors at the end of a performance, to accept the applause of the audience.
CURTAIN MUSIC Music played just before the beginning or resumption of an act.
CURTAIN SPEECH A speech at the beginning or end of a performance, usually a short acknowledgment delivered in front of the closed main drape by the author, manager, or an actor. Prior to curtain, it may be used to welcome the audience, specify emergency exits, rules on photos and electronic devices, and to promote the producing theatre's programs.
CURTAIN TIME The time when a performance is scheduled to begin. Often shortened to "curtain," as in "What time is curtain?"
CURTAIN WARMER Soft light projected onto the grand drape or main curtain when the audience is being seated.
CUT 1) To omit lines or business provided in the script, usually intentionally. Also, such an omission. Thus, "This version of 'The Taming of the Shrew' cut the prologue." And "I checked, and the cuts in the first act were significant." 2) To shut off lights or sound, as in "Cut the spot!"
CUT DROP A drop, painted and then cut out so that the spectator sees a scene formed not only by the drop, but also by whatever is placed behind it.
CUT VERSION A script with dialogue deleted.
CYC BORDER A strip of border lights used to illuminate the cyclorama from above.
CYC FLOOD Floodlight, usually with an asymmetrical reflector, designed to light a cyc or backcloth from the top or bottom. In the US, a flood at the top of the cyc is a CYC OVER, and a flood at the bottom is a CYC UNDER.
CYCLORAMA Usually just "cyc" (rhymes with 'bike'). A plain cloth or plastered wall filling the rear of the stage. The term is often loosely applied to a blue skydrop, or any flattage at the rear of the stage. May be curved at the ends--and indeed the original sense of the word was a curving or u-shaped curtain. Typical made of canvas or heavyweight cotton duck, suspended from the grid, and reaching to the floor. The term "cyclorama" is also used to refer to the lighting instrument that covers the actual "cyc" with light. Newer models of these instruments include LED styles that require far less energy, and produce far less heat. Some are multifunction devices: dimmer, infinite-shades color changer, light source projector, strobe effect and optics with precision adjustment.
D.C. or DC
D.L. or DL
D.L.C. or DLC
D.R. or DR
D.R.C. or DRC
DAISY-CHAINING Connecting items of equipment together by linking from one to the next in a chain. Used for connecting demux boxes to dimmers, etc.
DARK Said of a theatre that is closed, or with no performances scheduled. Some theatres go dark temporarily during production periods, when the next show is in preparation on stage. Thus, "Shows run Thursday through Sunday, and we're dark Monday through Wednesday."
DAT Digital Audio Tape
dB Abbreviation for decibel
DBO Dead Blackout
DE-RIG The process of removing lighting instruments & cabling from flying bars or grid (rigging)- returning the venue to its normal state, or as preparation for the next production.
DEAD 1) A prop or scenic piece that has been used, but is no longer needed until the next performance. 2) Used to describe a flat or curtain that hangs with the bottom edge level on the stage floor, as in "dead hang."
DEAD HANG To fly an item without a counterweight.
DEATH AT THE BOX OFFICE A dramatic piece or actor that is unlikely to succeed with the public, or one that is known to be unpopular.
DEBUT An actor's first appearance, whether at the beginning of his/her career, or in a new theatre. Thus "Making his Acme Little Theatre debut is John Kelly."
DECIBEL Relative measurement for the volume (loudness) of sound. Also used to measure the difference between two voltages, or two currents.
DECK 1) Stage floor. 2) Tape deck.
DEEP A stage or acting area that is long in measurement from front to back.
DELIVERY The manner in which an actor presents or utters his/her lines.
DEMUX BOX Interface unit between the serial digital output of a memory lighting control desk to the parallel analogue signal understood by a dimmer.
DENOUEMENT In a dramatic work, the falling action after the climax, the unwinding of the complications of the plot.
DEPARTMENT One of the principal divisions of the stage staff, headed by a company official--such as wardrobe, scenery, lighting. Thus, department head.
DEUS EX MACHINA In the ancient Greek and Roman theatre, this referred to a god that provided the resolution of the play (literally, "a god from a machine."). In modern drama, sometimes used to mean an unlikely resolution of the problem posed in a play.
DEVELOPMENT 1) In dramatic construction, the events after the exposition that complicates the plot; a logical series in cause and effect. 2) In characterization, a change and expansion in character traits within a dramatic piece.
DI BOX Interface unit to convert the high impedance unbalanced output of an instrument (e.g. Electric guitar) into a low impedance balanced signal of low level suitable for connection to the microphone input of a mixing desk. Usually has an output jack socket so that the instrument's unprocessed signal can be passed direct to the musician's amplifier. DI = Direct Injection.
DIALOG or DIALOGUE Lines in a stage entertainment or dramatic work, usually those in which at least to persons take part (as opposed to monologue). Thus dramatic or stage dialogue.
DICHROIC FILTER Glass color filters which reflect all light except that which is the color of the filter, which passes through. Normal gels absorb the unwanted colors, turning the light into heat. Diachronic filters run cooler, and produce a much cooler beam of light. Longer lasting, but a lot more expensive.
DICHROIC LAMP Low voltage display lamp with a reflector that lets heat pass through it, rather than reflecting it. Results in a much "cooler" light.
DIFFUSE To spread light softly, often by use of a diffusing medium.
DIFFUSION/DIFFUSING MEDIUM A filter used to soften the edges of a light beam. Different strengths of diffuser (sometimes called "frost") are available from many color filter manufacturers.
DIGITAL Many electronic devices use digital logic. Information is handled in separate bits (either ON or OFF) rather than continuously variable analogue signals. Most computer lighting boards give a digital multiplexed output, and most new sound equipment is digital.
DIGITAL DIMMER Dimmers that can respond directly to the digital multiplexed output of the lighting desk. The technology also permits the dimmer to report faults and other data back to the control board.
DIGITAL RECORDING 1) ADAM : (Akai Digital Audio Multitrack). 12 track recording onto Video 8 tape. 16 bit, 44)1 or 48kHz sampling rate. 2) DAT (Digital Audio Tape) Cassette-like system which has much higher quality than standard audio cassettes. Widely used in gathering sound effects, for news gathering, and for playback of music. 3) DCC (Digital Compact Cassette) Rival to DAT which also plays standard audio cassettes. 4) Mini Disk : Uses computer disk technology, rather than tape. A laser heats an area of magnetic disk which is then written to by a magnetic head. When cooled, the magnetic information is read from the disk by laser. Tracks can be named, and are instant start. Very theatre-friendly system. 5) Direct to Disk : Uses the hard disk present in most PCs as the recording medium.
DIM To decrease the stage illumination, as in "Dim the spot."
DIMMER Electrical or electronic device that controls the amount of electricity passed to a lamp, and therefore the intensity of the lamp.
DIMMER RACK A number of individual dimmer circuits mounted in a cabinet.
DIN Deutscher Industrie Normen. European standard covering audio connectors and tape equalization characteristics.
DISCHARGE LAMP A high-powered source of light produced by means of a discharge between two electrodes. An arc light, for example uses a discharge between two carbon rods which are manually or automatically fed together as they are burnt up. The use of this type of lighting is restricted to non-dimming applications such as followspots and projection, where dimming is achieved by mechanical means. Many of the new generation of moving lights use discharge lamps and diachronic filters.
DISCOVER To reveal a scene, a person, etc., to the audience, often by the opening of a curtain or bringing up stage lighting. Thus, "Barnes is discovered upstage left, smoking."
DISSOLVE UNIT Interface connected between two or more slide projectors and a tape player. Synchronization signals recorded onto the tape are detected by the dissolve unit and fade up the lamp in one slide projector while changing the slide in the other, and then vice versa, producing a dipless crossfade between the two images.
DISTORTION Noisy and unpleasant sound reproduction, usually the result of overloading sound equipment. Reducing the levels can remedy the situation.
DISTRIBUTION BOARD System of interconnected fuse carriers and cabling that routes an incoming power supply to a number of different outputs.

    All modern lighting desks use this serial form of communication with dimmers. All the information from the desk is transmitted along a single pair of cables to the dimmer where a de-multiplexing unit (demux box) decodes the string of data and passes the correct piece of information to the correct dimmer.
    The industry standard protocol (language/standard) for multiplexing has the digital USITT DMX512 (introduced in 1986, based on RS485 data protocol). However, new protocols are continually being added to keep up with more demanding equipment.
    SMX is a communications protocol which enables digital dimmers to 'report back' to the desk on any faults (eg blown lamps).
    RDM (Remote Device Management) is an emerging upgrade to DMX512 which will include bi-directional communication between controller and device.
    DMX512-A (officially ANSI E1.11) is a standard developed at ESTA, which is backwards-compatible with DMX512, but has stricter safety parameters and offers some upgrades of functionality.
    Among the older protocols (pre-DMX512) are D54 which uses a stream of analogue voltage levels and was the Strand standard, and AMX 192 (US Standard, introduced around 1975) which can control up to 192 channels and uses a 4-pin XLR connector. (AMX stands for Analogue Multiplex).

DOCK A place (often a raised platform) for the loading or unloading of materials.
DOLBY Trade name for a series of noise reduction systems that have become standard on many tape playback machines. Many film soundtracks are produced using this process. Different varieties are found from Dolby B on most personal cassette players, to Dolby SR and Digital, the current state of the art for films.
DOLLY A small wheeled platform used to move heavy items. (E.g. a piano dolly).
DOMINATE A SCENE 1) In acting, to occupy an outstanding position on the stage, as the position farthest upstate, or on the highest plane of several levels. 2) A particularly strong actor who, intentionally or not, is the prime focus of a scene.
DONUT A metal plate with a hole in the middle inserted in the color runners of a lamp to sharpen focus (in the case of a profile) or reduce spill.
DOOR FLAT A flat with an opening for a door unit.
DOORSKIN A flexible thin plywood used for covering flats, also known as luaun or Philippine mahogany. Use is declining due to the fact that it is sourced from environmentally unsustainable resources in the Brazilian Rainforest.
DOUBLE To play two parts in one production; an actor who does so. Thus, doubling.
DOUBLE PURCHASE Counterweighted flying system where the cradle travels half the distance of the fly bar, leaving the side wall of the stage under the fly floors clear of flying equipment. The cradle of a double purchase system needs twice as many counterweights as that of a single purchase system balancing the same weight.
DOUBLE TAKE An actor's comic response to a surprising event or action: one expression, followed after a pause by another, as he pretends to recognize the significance belatedly.
DOUBLE-CAST To cast two actors in each part, either to provide an understudy, or to permit their appearance in alternate performances. Thus, double-casting.
DOWN Short for down stage.
DOWN CENTER A stage position or area, center and downstage. Also a stage direction, as "Mary, move down center." Sometimes abbreviated as D.C. or DC.
DOWN LEFT A stage position, left (audience's right) and downstage. Also a stage direction, as in "Mary, move down left." Sometimes abbreviated as D.L. or DL.
DOWN LEFT CENTER A stage position, downstage of left center position. Sometimes abbreviated as D.L.C. or DLC.
DOWN RIGHT A stage position or area, right (audience's left) and downstage. Sometimes abbreviated as D.R. or DR.
DOWN RIGHT CENTER A stage position, downstage of right center position. Sometimes abbreviated as D.R.C. or DRC.
DOWN STAGE or DOWNSTAGE 1) The entire front half of the stage. Thus, 'downstage wall,' 'downstage entrance.' 2) Any part of the stage considered as a position in relation to something or someone farther back, as in "Mark moves right, downstage of Mary."
DOWNLIGHT A light from directly above the acting area.
DOWNSTAGE 1) The part of the stage nearest to the audience (so-named from the lowest part of a raked stage). 2) A movement towards the audience (in a proscenium theatre).
DRAMA 1) A representation on a stage by actors before an audience. 2) A piece of writing, particularly one of marked emotional intensity, intended for stage representation. The opposite of comedy.
DRAMATIC IRONY 1) The use of actions or words carrying a hidden meaning for the audience in the development of a plot. 2) A character's failure to realize a truth evident to the audience.
DRAMATIC UNITY The principle of "oneness," applicable to every aspect of dramatic writing and production, each element contributing to a single, overall effect.
DRAMATIS PERSONAE The characters in a play, usually referring a list of them. From the Latin, "persons of the drama."
DRAMATIST An author of a play, a playwright.
DRAMATIZE To convert a nontheatrical work into a play.
DRAMATURG or DRAMATURGE While the Oxford English Dictionary cites dramaturg as early as 1859, Jeffrey Sweet, co-editor of The Best Plays annual, says he first heard the term at New York’s Eugene O'Neill Center in 1970. At the O'Neill, the dramaturg was a critic on the playwright's side, and assumed to be widely read with a good grasp of craft issues, Sweet explains. The dramaturg was to ask questions of playwrights that would generate responses to answer problems in their scripts. In the last 25 years the role of dramaturg has evolved and expanded. Today, while there is no single definition, Sweet says, "in practice, the dramaturg is generally supposed to have some kind of literary bent, be capable of research, and to utter opinions which by dint of schooling are supposed to be taken seriously."
DRAMATURGY The art or technique of dramatic composition or representation. Thus dramaturge or dramaturg, dramaturgist.
DRAPERY Any soft curtain material, hung--usually loosely--as part of the scenic decoration. Thus, drapery border, drape, drape curtain.
DRAPES Stage Curtains
DRAW CURTAIN or DRAW-CURTAIN A curtain that divides in the middle so that it can be pulled to the sides of the stage.
DRAWING-ROOM COMEDY A light, sophisticated comedy typically set in a drawing room with characters drawn from polite (upper-class) society.
DRESS 1) To costume a stage production. 2) To decorate a stage with pictures, drapes, pillows, etc., in order to provide a pleasing arrangement of color, form, and texture.
DRESS PARADE Review by director/designer/wardrobe staff of all costumes worn by cast and paraded under stage lighting. Any defects, misfits etc. are noted or corrected before the first Dress Rehearsal.
DRESS REHEARSAL A full rehearsal, with all technical elements brought together. The performance as it will be on opening night.
DRESSER Person who helps actors with costume care and costume changes during the performance.
DRESSING 1) Noun. Decorative props (some practical) and furnishings added to a stage setting. 2) The act of decorating the set for performance.
DRESSING ROOM A room backstage where an actor can dress and put on makeup.
DROP A piece of scenic canvas, painted or plain, that is flown or fixed to hang in a vertical position. Sometimes called cloths (the British term). A Backdrop hangs at the rear of a scene. A Front drop hangs well downstage, often to hide a scene change taking place behind. Cut drops have cut-away open areas and are normally used as a series, painted in perspective. A Star drop (usually black) has a large number of small low-voltage lamps sewn or pinned through it which gives a magical starry sky effect. (See also Fiber Optics). A floor drop may be used to protect the stage while painting, or to mark the playing area.
DRY 1) An actor forgetting the words of his script, to go dry or dry up. 2) To record a sound without using any effect or other processing is to record it "dry." Recording with an effect is recording "wet."
DRY BRUSH To paint scenery, usually with a second color, by drawing across it with a brush that is nearly dry.
DRY ICE Frozen, solid carbon dioxide (CO2) at a temperature of -87.5 degrees centigrade which produces clouds of steam-loaded CO2 gas forming a low-lying mist or fog when dropped into boiling water. Although non-toxic, caution is required in the storage and handling of dry ice because of its extreme cold. Water is boiled in a large tank offstage, into which the dry ice is lowered in a basket. Fans and ducts then direct the gas onto the stage. Dry ice does not support life, so care should be taken that small animals, actors etc. are not below the level of the dry ice for more than a few seconds.
DRY ROUGE A powdered rouge for coloring the cheeks.
DRY RUN A practice run, usually a technical run without actors.
DRY UP In acting, to forget one's lines or business. Also, forgetfulness while acting. Also "Go dry."
DUAL ROLE Two parts in a production that are placed by the same actor.
DUBBING The process of copying a sound from one medium to another (e.g. onto videotape) or for backup purposes, simply copying sound tapes.
DUCAT 1) A theatre ticket. 2) A free admission pass. Rhymes with 'bucket'
DUMB SHOW Now obsolete. A production, or part of one, played in pantomime.
DUTCHMAN / DUTCHING Tape or strips of muslin or other fabric, used to cover the seams between flats, prior to painting. The term originates from the British & American stereotype of the Dutch as a frugal people (as in "Dutch treat.") Saving old scraps of cloth or wood to fill joints was also seen as a sign of frugality, and thus the nickname "Dutchman" or "Dutching" came into being.
DYNAMIC MIC Robust type of microphone which picks up the sound on a diaphragm connected to a coil of wire which moves within a magnet. An alternating current is induced into the wire which provides the electrical output. Most dynamic mics have low output impedances of 200 Ohms.
ECHO A repeated sound received late enough to be heard as distinct from the source.
EDUCATIONAL THEATRE An amateur theatre maintained by an K-12 educational institution for the entertainment and cultural profit of the student body, and for the training of students in dramatics. 'Academic theatre' is used for college-level theatre.
EFFECTS PROJECTOR Instrument used to project the image from a rotating glass effects disc. Used with an objective lens to produce the desired size of image. Commonly used discs are clouds, flames and rain.
ELECTRET MIC A condenser microphone where the capacitor plates are given a charge during manufacture which they retain, therefore requiring no external power supply.
ELECTRICIAN The person in charge of all the electrical preparations and operations in a production
ELEVATION A working drawing usually drawn to scale, showing a view of a set or lighting rig. In general, the term "elevation" refers to a Front elevation. A Rear elevation shows backs of scenic elements. A side view of a set is known as a "section".
ELEVATOR STAGE A type of mechanized stage which has sections that can be raised or lowered.
ELIZABETHAN THEATRE English drama of the period when Elizabeth I occupied the British throne (1558-1603), although these dates are elastic. For example, the closing of the theatres in 1642 is sometimes included in an overview of Elizabethan theatre.
ELLIPSOIDAL Sometimes referred to as a Leko. Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlights (ER Spotlights) are probably one of the most commonly used lighting instruments today. ER Spotlights typically feature a long light throw which creates a circular pool of light on the stage. These traits make the ER Spotlight ideal for lighting the stage from a catwalk There are two lenses in each ER Spotlight. Both lenses are permanently welded into place. The configuration of an ER Spotlight (6x6, 6x9, 6x12, etc.) is determined by how far apart the two lenses are from one another. Each lens is thick and curved. The lens is manufactured this way in order to resist cracking under the intense heat from the lamp. The curved lens also helps the heat to effectively dissipate.

For "M.C."--short for Master of Ceremonies.

ENACT To perform, to act.
ENCORE A call by an audience--by shouting or applause--for the reappearance of performers in order to repeat a portion of a musical or dance number. Also, to call out this word ("Encore!"). The word is French, meaning "again."
ENGAGEMENT 1) An actor's period of employment in a part. 2) An arrangement for a company to play in a theatre for a specified period of time.
ENSEMBLE 1. A cast of characters, except for the principals. 2) The grouping of the whole stage picture, involving actors and set. 3) The chorus in a musical, sometimes including soloists. 4) Said of acting or a cast in which group interaction and support is more important than individual performances.
ENTER To come onstage. Also a stage direction, as in "Ted enters from the side door."
ENTR'ACTE 1) Orchestral music played as intermission ends and a musical or opera is about begin a new act. 2) Sometimes used to mean the intermission itself. 3) In some cases, an entr'acte (meaning in French, "between acts") was a brief entertainment provided during the intermission.
ENTRANCE 1) A door or other access to the stage, for actors. 2) The act of walking onto the stage in view of the audience, as in "make an entrance."
EPILOGUE or EPILOG A scene or speech following the end of the main action of a play. In many works, the epilogue explains what happens 'afterward' to the characters.
EQUALIZATION The process of adjusting the tonal quality of a sound. A graphic equalizer provides adjustment for a wide range of frequency bands, and is normally inserted in the signal path after the mixing desk, before the amplifier.
EQUITY Actor's Equity Association, founded in 1913, is the labor union representing actors and stage managers in the legitimate theatre in the United States.
ESTA Entertainment Services and Technology Association
ESTABLISH In playwriting or production, to make clear to an audience such matters as locale, character, etc. Thus, "The playwright establishes within the first few moments that this is pre-Nazi Germany, mostly by the references to the Weimar Republic and its inflationary terrors."
EXEUNT Archaic term, meaning the exit of more than one character at the same time.
EXIT 1) Leaving the stage, to go offstage. Thus, "exit speech" and "make an exit." 2) A door or other opening through which an actor can leave the stage.
EXIT LINE A line of dialogue spoken by an actor just before, or just as, he/she leaves the stage.
EXPANDER A piece of sound processing equipment that reduces background noise by muting a sound signal when it falls below a certain level, restoring it when the level increases again. Must be used on vocal microphones with care, because it may cut the signal off, although the vocalist is still singing quietly.
EXPOSITION An explanation, normally in the dialogue, of events preceding the beginning of a dramatic piece, and which the audience needs to know. Also, any plot-related information that is provided to help the audience understand actions that take place offstage.
EXPOSITORY SCENE A scene whose chief purpose is to provide exposition.
EXPRESSIONISM A theatrical method that emphasizes the inner emotional significance of a play rather than the mere exterior quality. The means to do this are unusual, from heavy symbolism to speeding up (or slowing down) the action, abstract sets and costumes, etc. The high point of expressionism was 1910-1925, and most practiced in Germany, although it can be found in American plays as well.
EXTEMPORANEOUS Impromptu, unrehearsed, unscripted. Thus, extemporize, extempore (from the Latin, meaning "out of the moment."
EXTERIOR A scene set out of doors, usually referring to a flat or backdrop representing such a scene.
EXTRAVAGANZA A light entertainment with music, an improbable plot (in the 19th century, usually a fairy tale), and a spectacular presentation, with colorful costumes, a large cast. Later, any spectacular presentation.
F.B.O or FBO Abbreviation for Fade to blackout (or fade to black).
FABULOUS INVALID The theatre, always amazingly vital despite its chronic financial and artistic setbacks.
FADE An increase, diminishment or change in lighting or sound level.
FADE IN To increase the illumination of the stage gradually through the use of dimmers.
FADE OUT or FADEOUT To decrease the illumination of the stage gradually through the use of dimmers, until the stage is totally dark. Also a noun: fadeout.
FADER Vertical slider which is used to remotely set the level of a lighting or sound channel.
FAKE (verb) 1) To ad lib, as in "to fake it." 2)To omit lines or business, or to execute business than it would take in real life.
FALSE PROSCENIUM A frame formed by scenic canvas or vertical flattage within the proscenium arch. Used to reduce the size of the opening when putting a small set onto a large stage.
FALSE STAGE Special stage floor laid for a production. For example to allow trucks guided by tracks cut into this false floor, to be moved by steel wires running in the shallow (2 or 3 inch) void between the false floor and the original stage floor. A false stage is also required for putting a revolve onto a stage.
FARCE A broadly comic dramatic work based on ludicrously improbable events, unsubtle in idea or characterization. Farce is typically fast and funny, with a great deal of action. By its very nature, farce commands an intense outpouring of energy, impeccable timing and a total immersion of the actor into his role
FAT A role, lines, or business offering an actor the opportunity to shine, or show what he/she can do. Thus, "a fat part."
FEE A royalty fee is charged per performance, with the amount depending on whether the producing company is professional or amateur. (See Amateur Rights, Professional Rights.) Some representatives charge a straight fee, with no distinction as to the number of seats or performances. Others charge one fee for the first performance and a lesser amount for each successive performance. Still others charge a fee based on the number of seats in the house, ticket price, number of performance, and company status (professional or amateur). There are three basic fees in licensing a musical: A royalty fee (per performance); a rental fee; and a refundable security deposit.
FEED 1) A power supply to a piece of equipment or installation is termed a "feed". Sound equipment and sensitive computer equipment should have a clean feed - that is, a supply that is free from interference from other equipment. 2) To help another actor get full effect from significant speech or action through the one's own preparatory speech or action. Thus a "feed line."
FEEDBACK A sharp whistle or rumble heard emanating from a sound system. It is caused by a sound being amplified many times. (e.g. a sound is picked up by a microphone and amplified through the speaker. The microphone picks up this amplified sound and it is sent through the system again). Feedback can be avoided by careful microphone positioning, and can be reduced by use of Equalization to reduce the level of the frequency band causing the feedback. Also known as "howl."
FIBER OPTIC A method of directing light down a very thin glass fiber. Fiber Optics are used mostly in communication, but find theatre applications in star cloths which are black backcloths with the ends of optical fibers poked through, to create a mass of pin pricks of light. A large bundle or harness of fibers may be fed from one light source, sometimes with a motorized color or flicker wheel.
FIBERGLASS A combination of a glass mat and a resin which can be formed into a strong shell. Used in prop-making.
FIELD Refers to the spread of light intensity across a beam. Most profile instruments have an adjustable field. A Flat field has an even distribution, a peak field has a "hot spot" in the center of the beam. A flat field is essential when using gobos.
FILL LIGHT Light that fills the shadows that key light creates.
FILTER 1) See Color. 2) Electronic device to isolate and redirect specific frequencies in a speaker system.
FINALE The last song, the closing ensemble of a musical production.
FINALETTO Rarely used as a term now, but meaning the last song or closing ensemble of the first act of a musical (to distinguish it from the finale or grand finale.
FIRE CURTAIN Short for fireproof curtain.
FIRE EXIT Particular exit(s) from a building designated by local authority fire officer to be the correct means of escape from a part of the building in case of fire. It is the responsibility of all staff and performers to ensure that all fire exits are kept clear, unlocked and accessible at all times.
FIREPROOF CURTAIN The foremost curtain in the proscenium arch, made of a nonflammable material on a steel frame, used to protect the auditorium if fire breaks out on or behind the stage.
FIREPROOFING Treatment given to fabric, lumber, drapes etc. to retard flammability. Many scenic materials require regular re-application of fireproofing treatment.
FIRST NIGHT or FIRST-NIGHT Opening night. Thus, "first-night audience."
FLASH BOX A small box containing the socket into which a pyro cartridge is plugged. Also known as a flash pod.
FLASHTHROUGH Method of checking whether lamps are functioning properly by flashing them on one at a time. It is good practice to flash lamps to 70%, rather than Full to preserve lamp life.
FLAT A lightweight timber frame covered with scenic canvas. Now usually covered with plywood or hardboard, and consequently not so lightweight. Most theatres have a range of stack flattage made to a standard size, and re-used many times. A Rail is a horizontal batten within a flat. A Stile is a side or vertical piece within a flat. A Sill is the bottom rail of a flat.
FLOAT In British terminology, a truck used for transporting scenery from theatre to theatre. Hence, any travel from theatre to theatre, and by extension, a theatre junket or trip that takes in multiple theatres.
FLOOD 1) Short for floodlight. 2) Verb: To increase the beam size of a focus spot by moving the lamp and reflector towards the lens. "Flood that a bit, please !"
FLOODLIGHT Often simply, a "flood." A large, powerful light, typically one of several used to illuminate a stage, or the exterior of a building. Floodlights are basic theatrical lighting instruments, consisting of primarily of a reflector box and a lamp, usually attached to a yoke to allow the instrument to be hung. They are often used in the theater for color washes, or left uncolored for use as work lights.
FLOODLIGHT or FLOOD LIGHT A lensless lighting instrument that produces a broad non-variable spread of light. Floodlights ('floods') are used in battens, or singly to light cycloramas or large areas of the stage.
FLUORESCENCE The property of some materials to glow when subjected to Ultra-violet light. The materials degrade the UV wavelengths into longer and therefore visible reflected rays.
FLY To lift or raise a set piece or lighting bar up and out of sight--or, in some cases, a person, as in "Peter Pan." In order for this to work, there needs to be an open area above the stage with enough head room to store items that are "flown." This is known as "Fly space" or the "flies."
FLY BARS The metal bars to which scenery and lamps are attached for flying above the stage.
FLY GALLERY High working platform at the side(s) of the stage from which the flying lines are handled. Often are also the site for socket panels for connecting flown lighting apparatus to dimmers, and also sometimes a lighting position.
FLY LOFT Extension of the stage walls up to allow scenery to be flown up until it is out of sight of the audience. Known as the "flies". The ideal fly tower should be more than twice the height of the proscenium arch, and is said to have "full flying height".
FOCUS 1) To adjust a lighting instrument in terms of beam spread or direction. 2) In acting, to turn and face another actor, an object, etc. and give it one's entire attention. 3) In directing or technical work the area or person designed to draw the audience's attention. In a large musical number, for example, the focus is often the lead performer. (Thus, to steal focus, is to do something that diverts audience attention from the intended object of focus.) In a set design, a stairway, doorway, couch, or other object is positioned as the focus of the scene.
FOCUS SPOT Term for both Fresnel and PC type lamps with adjustable beam size.
FOCUSING The process of adjusting the direction and beam size of lamps. Does not necessarily result in a "sharply focused" image.
FOH Front Of House, usually referring to staff such as house manager, box office, etc.
FOLLOW SPOT A spotlight mounted so that it can turn to follow an actor moving across the stage.
FOLLOW-ON CUE A cue that is timed to follow an original cue so quickly that it does not need a separate cue number. Often abbreviated to f/o.
FOOT A FLAT To hold a foot, with the sole on the floor, against the bottom of a flat, while another person, moving under the flat, pushes it up or lets it down.
FOOTLIGHT or FOOTLIGHTS Now obsolete. A lighting unit with a reflector, installed in a strip on or in the floor, parallel to the curtain line, and usually in front of it, shielded from the auditorium side. Modern lighting equipment renders footlights virtually obsolete except for period/special effects.
FORESHADOW To hint, in dialogue or by other means, that some later dramatic action will occur.
FORESTAGE or FORE-STAGE That part of the stage which projects from the proscenium into the auditorium. Sometimes called an apron.
FOUL Said of ropes, cables, scenic pieces, etc, hanging from above, when they become tangled.
FOURTH WALL From the observation that the traditional box set has three walls (left, right, back) and an invisible fourth wall--the proscenium through which the audience views the action. Thus "Breaking the Fourth Wall," when a fictional character shows awareness of the play in which they "exist" and the audience watching that play.
FREEZE In acting, to keep motionless, especially while the audience laughs, or to create a stage picture at the start or end of a scene.
FRENCH SCENE A "scene" division within a play marked (as in French drama) by the entrance or exit of an actor. In American and English drama, directors often break up a long scene for the purposes of blocking, rehearsal or character work. Using the entrance/exit concept, they dub these "French scenes."
FREQUENCY (Measured in Hertz - Hz - cycles per second) The number of times a sound source vibrates each second. A high frequency (HF) sound has a higher pitch and is uni-directional. A low frequency (LF) sound has a lower pitch and is omnidirectional.
FRESNEL Pronounced "Fruh-nell") A type of lamp which produces an even, soft-edged beam of light through a Fresnel lens. The lens is a series of stepped concentric circles on the front and pebbled on the back and is named after its French inventor, Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827).
FRONT LIGHT 1) A lighting unit placed somewhere in the auditorium for the illumination of the front of the stage. Thus, "front lighting."
FRONT OF HOUSE 1) Every part of the theatre in front of the pros arch. Includes foyer areas open to the general public. 2) All lamps which are on the audience side of the proscenium and are focused towards the stage.
FRONT OF HOUSE CALLS Announcements made by stage management or FRONT-OF-HOUSE staff calling the audience into the auditorium, or informing them when the performance begins. Calls are normally made at the Half (35 min. before curtain up), the Quarter (20 min before), the Five (10 min), and calls normally accompanied by bar bells at 3, 2 and 1 minutes before the performance begins.
FROST A diffusing filter used to soften the edges of a light beam. Different strengths of diffuser are available from many color filter manufacturers.
FULL DROP Any drop curtain other than a cut drop.
FULL STAGE A stage used in its entirety for setting and acting.
FULLERS EARTH Hydrous aluminum silicate, used in chemistry as a filter and as a binder when mixing powder paint for use on textiles.
FULLNESS Draperies made up with deep "gatherings" have fullness - usually requiring not less than 50% additional fabric, measured at head and foot.
FUSE Protective device for electrical equipment (e.g. dimmers). The fuse link will melt when excess current flows, preventing damage to people or equipment. Every piece of electrical equipment has at least one fuse in its associated circuit.
FUTURE RELEASE A play or dramatic property that is not yet available for license; in fact, it may not even been assigned to an author's representative.
FUZZ LIGHT A lamp with a revolving mirror and a colored plastic dome. Gives a "police light" effect. Usually 12 Volt or 240 Volt operation.
FX Special Effect(s)
GAFFER'S TAPE Sticky cloth tape, not to be confused with duct tape. Most common widths are .5" for marking out areas and 2" (usually black) for everything else. Used for temporarily securing almost anything. Should not be used on coiled cables or equipment. Originally named for the Gaffer (Master Electrician) on a film set.
GAIN 1) The level of amplification given to a signal or of a system. 2) A control of the amount of pre-amplification given to a sound signal on its way into a mixer.
GANG To group together (spotlights, dimmers, etc.) Also, a group or grouping of lighting or sound equipment.
GATE The point of focus in a profile spot where the shutters are positioned and where an iris or gobo can be inserted.
GEL Short for gelatin, the material once used for color filters. A sheet of plastic usually composed of a colored resin sandwiched between two clear pieces. The colored filter absorbs all the colors of light except the color of the filter itself, which it allows through. For this reason, denser colors get very hot, and can burn out very quickly. At one time, filters were made from gelatin, from which came the still-used name "gel." Also known as a color filter, and manufactured and sold as such by companies like Rosco.
GEL FRAME A frame which holds the color filter in the guides at the front of a lamp. Many different sizes of frames are needed for the different lamps.
GENERAL ADMISSION A charge made for admission to a theatrical performance, the price being that charged to the general audience, without a discount as there is for children or senior citizens. The term is also used sometimes to denote unreserved seating.
GENERAL COVER Those lamps in a rig which are set aside purely to light the acting areas. The stage is normally split into a number of areas for this purpose, which can then be isolated or blended together as required by the director. Also known as "General Fill."
GENERAL LIGHTING Lighting that is spread across a fairly extensive portion of the stage.
GENERAL RELEASE Rights for producing a play that are granted to anyone who applies--amateur, stock, professional, tour. Unrestricted.
GEORGE SPELVIN A fictitious name, dating from about 1886, traditionally used in theatre programs to conceal the identify of an actor who is doubling in a second role.
GESTURE In acting, a movement of the arm or hand as a means of dramatic expression.
GET-OFFS A means for an actor to get off a rostrum, high level etc. out of view of the audience. Usually treads.
GHOST In lighting, a secondary illumination from a spotlight, showing that the optical system is not in proper adjustment.
GHOSTLIGHT A light left burning overnight on stage to keep friendly spirits illuminated and unfriendly spirits at bay. Also believed to keep the theatrical muse in a "dark" theatre, and to stop people tripping over bits of scenery when they come into the theatre in the morning. Also refers to the light emitted by a lamp when a dimmer has not been "trimmed" correctly, and is leaking.
GLAZE Glossy transparent or semitransparent finish applied as a final coat to a painted stage floor or to scenery to soften its appearance.
GO DRY In acting, to forget one's lines or business. Also, forgetfulness while acting. Also: "Dry up."
GOBO A thin metal plate (also called a pattern) etched to produce a design which can then be projected by a profile spotlight (e.g. foliage, windows). The image can be used soft focus to add texture, rather than a defined image. A number of composite gobos in different colored lamps can, with careful focusing, produce a colored image (e.g. a stained glass window). Greater detail can be achieved using a glass gobo. The original use of the word came from the early days of Hollywood. When the director of photography wanted daylight excluded from some area of the set, he'd say "Go Black Out". People would run around putting black material between the sun and the set. It eventually evolved into other objects that go in front of lights and now most commonly refers to patterns in profiles.
GOBO HOLDER A metal plate designed to hold a gobo of a particular size in a lamp of a particular type.
GOBO ROTATOR Motorized device inserted into the gate of a profile lamp that can be remotely controlled to rotate a gobo, usually with variable speed and direction.
GRAND FINALE A finale on a grand spectacular scale, in which the principals and ensemble participate. Usually refers only to musical productions.
GRAND GUIGNOL (grahn ghee-nyoll) A French term, derived from the name of a Paris theater where were performed short, sensational horror plays, often with bloody effects.
GRANDE DAME An actress who plays the role of an imperious elderly woman; also an actress who specializes in such roles.
GREASEPAINT Name refers to make up supplied in stick form, for application to the face or body. Needs special removing (cold) cream.
GREEN ROOM Room close to the stage for the actors to meet and relax. According to the 1894 edition of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable the common waiting room for performers is so called "because at one time the walls were colored green to relieve the eyes affected by the glare of the stage lights." However, the Oxford English Dictionary cites the earliest usage of the term as 1701, a period when stages were lighted by candles and oil lamps (the English did not develop limelight until the late 1830s), so Brewer's supposition seems misplaced. The term was also used to denote a room where undried pottery was stored before being fired. It's possible that by extension this meaning was applied to the backstage room for actors waiting to go onstage.
GRID 1) The support structure close to the top of the fly tower on which the pulleys of the flying system are supported. Constructed from metal or wooden beams. 2) Arrangement of scaffolding from which lamps are hung in a performance space with no flying facilities.
GRIDDED Any flying piece raised as high as possible into the flies, i.e. to the limit of travel of the flying lines, is said to have been gridded.
GROUND PLAN Scaled plan showing the exact position (seen from above) of all items standing on the stage floor and indicating the position of items suspended above. Typical scales are 1:24 (.5" to 1 foot) or, metrically 1:25 (1cm to .25m). Venues have a base plan showing proscenium, walls, seating etc on which individual set and lighting plans can be drawn.
GROUNDING Electrical safety requirement that metal parts of electrical equipment are connected to a common ground point so that in the event of a fault, excess current can be carried away, causing the fuse to blow.
GROUNDROW 1) A long piece of scenery positioned at the base of a backcloth usually to mask the very bottom of a cloth or lamps lighting a cloth. 2) Compartmentalized floodlight battens at floor level used to light the bottom of sky drapes, etc.
GUN MIC A highly directional condenser microphone.
GYPSY A dancer/singer in musical theatre, typically in the chorus, who moves from show to show to show. The reference is to gypsies, the wandering people of Europe, who never settled down.
HALF Call given to the actors half an hour before they will be called to the stage for the beginning of a performance. Given 35 minutes before the advertised time of commencement. Subsequent calls given are the "quarter" at 20 minutes, "the five" at 10 minutes and "beginners to the stage" at 5 minutes before curtain up.
HALOGEN A halogen lamp is an incandescent lamp in which a tungsten filament is sealed into a compact transparent envelope filled with an inert gas and a small amount of halogen such as iodine or bromine. The halogen cycle increases the lifetime of the bulb and prevents its darkening by redepositing tungsten from the inside of the bulb back onto the filament. The halogen lamp can operate its filament at a higher temperature than a standard gas filled lamp of similar power without loss of operating life. This gives it a higher efficacy (10-30 lm/W). It also gives light of a higher color temperature compared to a non-halogen incandescent lamp. Alternatively, it may be designed to have perhaps twice the life with the same or slightly higher efficacy. Because of their smaller size, halogen lamps can advantageously be used with optical systems that are more efficient. However, the overall bulb temperature is far higher than in conventional incandescent lamps, and so the bulb must be made of fused silica (quartz) or a high melting point glass (such as aluminosilicate glass).
HAM Someone who overacts or acts badly on stage. From "hamfatter," said to derive from a derisive term for a minstrel performer. Supposedly, the connection was that blackface was a blend of pork fat and burnt cork, and related to the fact that an old minstrel song was "The Ham-Fat Man."
HAND Applause, usually in the forms "get a hand" or "give a hand."
Hang To suspend any piece of scenery or equipment, such as lights.
HEADS UP A shouted warning (often just "Heads !") for staff to be aware of activity above them. Also used when an object is being dropped from above.
HEADSET 1) General term for theatre communication equipment. 2) A headphone and microphone combination used in such communications systems with a belt pack.
HEMP A type of rope used for flying, made from fibers found within the bark of the cannabis plant.
HEMP SET The simplest flying system consisting of a series of hemp ropes threaded through pulleys on the grid, and tied off on the fly floor on a cleat. The usual arrangement is for three ropes to be attached to a flying piece, named by their position relative to the fly floor (short, center and long). These names are used when leveling the flying piece, and giving it a dead. The three ropes are pulled or let in together, sometimes requiring more than one person to operate.
HIGHLIGHT To accentuate part of the face by means of a spot or line of light-colored makeup. Thus, "highlighting."
HISTRIONIC or HISTRIONICS 1) Of or pertaining to acting or actors; theatrical. 2) As "histrionics" to mean any dramatic representation, although more frequently to mean over-emotional acting.
HIT A great popular success. Originally (1835), the term meant "a wonderfully favorable impression."
HOLD In acting, to pause, as for an audience's laughter or applause.
HOLD THE BOOK To serve as prompter.
HOOFER A dancer, especially a tap dancer.
HOOK A hook on a pole used to pull an unwanted performer off the stage on amateur night in a variety show. Originally 19th century term.
HOOK CLAMP A clamp with a wing bolt for hanging a lamp on a horizontal lighting bar.
HOT SPOT 1) A stage area that is brightly lighted. 2) The brightest rays of a light beam, particularly as seen by an actor. An experienced actor learns to recognize and locate any instrument's hot spot, and to center him or herself in it for maximum visibility.
HOUSE 1) The auditorium (e.g. "The house is now open, please do not cross the stage") 2) The audience (e.g. "How big is the house tonight?")
HOUSE LIGHTS The auditorium lighting which is commonly faded out when the performance starts.
HYDRAULIC System of controlling machinery or moving scenery using oil or water under pressure to move a piston or "ram". Used in many large-scale shows to automate scene changes.
IMPEDANCE Term for the electrical resistance found in a/c circuits. Affects the ability of a cable to transmit low level (e.g. sound) signals over a long distance. Speakers are rated according to power handling capabilities (Watts, W) and impedance (Ohms).
IMPRESARIO A producer, especially of musical entertainments.
IMPROVISATION A spontaneous form of theatre that is inspired by the audience and so is never the same show twice. Suggestions such as places, opening lines of dialogue, television shows, emotions, etc. are supplied by the audience. Then the suggestions are stretched to the wildest depths of the imagination and explored by the players who use an arsenal of games and scenes of high caliber humor or drama -- all produced on the spot. Improvisation as defined by Viola Spolin.
IMPROVISE To improvise is to invent lines or business not in a script, to ad-lib.
IN FOUR Said of a scene played in an acting area bounded on the upstage side by an imaginary line across the stage form the left wing farthest upstage to the right win furthest upstage, and on the downstage side by the "in three" area.
IN ONE Said of a scene played in an acting area bounded on the upstage side by an imaginary line across the stage from the left wing furthest downstage to the right wing farthest downstage. Also said of a curtain position at the same line; thus to play a scene "in one" usually means to play it on the downstage area in front of the curtain (usually while scenery is being changed behind the curtain.)
IN THE ROUND A stage setup in which the audience is seated completely around the playing area, as in an arena stage.
IN THREE Said of a scene played in an acting area bounded on the upstage side by an imaginary line drawn across the stage from the left wing to the right wing three-quarters of the way upstage.
INCANDESCENT Light source consisting of a metal filament (Tungsten) which glows white hot when current is passed through.
INDEPENDENT 1) An electrical power supply that is totally separate from the stage lighting control. Used for testing instruments prior to connection to the lighting system and also for powering non-lighting equipment on stage and working lights. A channel within the stage lighting control which has been temporarily switched to become independent from the rest of the channels which remain under the control of the operator.
INDUCTION LOOP System which amplifies audio frequency currents (from a microphone over the stage) around a large loop of cable (around the auditorium) to generate a magnetic field which can be picked up by a hearing aid switched to the "T" position.
INFLECTION The variation in the pitch of an actor's voice as he reveals emotion.
INFRARED Invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum with a longer wavelength than visible light. Infra-red remote controls are used for lighting desks and practicals. An infra-red-sensitive CCTV camera can pick up body heat activity even in a blackout.
INGENUE (French, pronounced on-ja-noo). The role of a sweet, naïve young woman; also an actress who plays young women's roles.
INSERT 1) An additional route into a sound desk. 2) An extra lighting state added into the sequence later.
INSET A small scene set inside a larger one.
INSTRUMENT General term for unit of lighting equipment including spotlight, flood etc. "Instrument" is more common in the U.S., "Lamp" in U.K., but both terms are often replaced by the internationally recognized "luminaire".
INTELLIGENT LIGHT Another name for an automated lighting instrument in which certain functions such as panning, tilting, focusing, dimming, beam shaping and coloring, etc., are motorized and remotely operated from a control console.
INTERMISSION A period between acts, when the houselights are brought up, and the audience is encouraged to move into the lobby, outside, etc.
INTERPOLATION Dialogue, song, or stage business inserted into a script by a performer or director. Interpolation is illegal in copyrighted works without the permission of the author(s) or their representative (agent).
IRIS Adjustable aperture which, when placed in the gate of a profile instrument, varies the size of a beam of light. Originally, iris diaphragm.
IRISING Using the adjustable aperture on a lighting instrument to reduce the size of the light beam hitting the stage. If the aperture permits it, the size of the beam can be made quite small (referred to as "the button", or closed altogether.
JACK Segmented audio connector. Mono Jacks have two connections - tip and sleeve, and are unbalanced. Stereo jacks have three connections - tip, ring and sleeve. B-type jacks (also known as Bantam jacks) were originally designed for use in telephone exchanges and provide a high quality (and expensive) connection in jackfields. A-type jacks are cheaper and more common, but more fragile. A type jacks are available in 2 sizes : quarter inch and eighth inch.
JACK KNIFE STAGE or JACKKNIFE STAGE A stage used for rapid scene-shifting, consisting of a platform or two on casters, pivoted at one corner to swing off- and onstage. Thus, jackknife set.
JACOBEAN DRAMA The English drama of the reign of James I (1603-1625), sometimes extended to 1642.
JUMPER An adapter from one type of electrical connector to another. Also applicable to sound cables.
JUVENILE The role of a young man; also an actor who plays such a role. The female equivalent is "ingénue."
KELVIN The color temperature of a light source is the temperature of an ideal black-body radiator that radiates light of comparable hue to that light source. The temperature is conventionally stated in units of absolute temperature, known as Kelvin (K). Higher color temperatures (4600K or more) are called daylight colors which appear blue-white. Mid-range color temperatures (3100K–4600K) look cool white. Lower color temperatures (up to 3000K) are called warm white colors, and range from red to yellowish-white in tone.
KEY LIGHT The dominant light source/direction in a lighting state. In a sunny drawing room, the key light would be through the window, for a naturalistic exterior scene the direction of the key light could change as the sun progressed across the sky.
KILL To switch off (a light/sound effect); to strike/remove (a prop).
KILOWATT 1 kilowatt (1kW) is equal to 1000 Watts.
KLIEG LIGHT or KLIEGLIGHT Not used much today, but often referring to any powerful spotlight unit. Originally, a carbon arc spotlight developed by John and Anton Klieg, and used extensively in Hollywood.
L Abbreviation of left, meaning stage left, and seen in stage directions, either alone or in combination with other abbreviations, as in DSL(down stage left).
L.D. or LD Lighting Designer
LADDER Non-climbable structure in the shape of a ladder from which instruments can be hung in a vertical "stack."
LAMP 1) General term for unit of lighting equipment including spotlight, flood etc. 'Instrument' is more common in the U.S. (where 'lamp' often refers to what the uninitiated would call the 'bulb'), but both terms being replaced by the internationally recognized "luminaire." 2) A light source, but sometimes used to refer specifically to the "bulb" in a stage lighting instrument.
LASER Acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A very high energy beam of light that remains virtually parallel throughout its length. Visible in the air only when a haze of smoke or dust is introduced. Great care is required when using lasers as this energy can cause permanent damage to the retina of the eye.
LASH To pull two flats together, edge to edge, by winding a lash line over lash line cleats in back.
LASH LINE A rope line used to fasten flats or other scenic units to one another.
LASH LINE CLEAT A small metal piece that can be screwed into the back of a flat frame, with a projecting tip over which a lash line can be slipped.
LAUGH LINE A line of dialogue that is calculated to produce a laugh from the audience.
LAVALIER MICROPHONE Originally, a mic worn around the neck on a string. Now applies to a small "tieclip" microphone.
LAY 'EM IN THE AISLES To make an audience laugh hysterically. Thus, said of a show or performer who is successful in the effort to be funny.
LAY AN EGG Said of a production or performance that fails miserably. Sometimes said of an actor whose jokes or funny business falls flat.
LC or L.C. Abbreviation of left center.
LEAD A principal role; also an actor who plays a principal role.
LEADER TAPE (Now mostly obsolete) Non-magnetic plastic tape used to begin and end sound tapes and to separate cues on reel-to-reel tape. Clear leader tape is used to activate the automatic stop on some playback machines. Leader tape is available in a variety of colors.
LEAK To leak light; said when the crack between two flats lashed together lets light through, or when a lighting instrument's beam is not properly channeled by barn doors or top hat.
LED A light-emitting diode (LED) offers many advantages over traditional light sources, including lower energy consumption, cool-running, longer lifetime, improved robustness, smaller size and faster switching. Applications of LEDs are diverse. They are used as low-energy indicators but also for replacements for traditional light sources in general lighting and theatre lighting, although they are still more expensive than traditional "bulbs."
LEG Drape set as masking piece at the side of the acting area. Usually set up in pairs across the stage and used in conjunction with borders to frame the audiences' view.
LEGITIMATE THEATRE Professionally produced stage plays as distinguished from films, variety shows, theme park performance.
LEKO A commonly used term for an ellipsoidal spotlight, named after its inventors (Levy and Kook), the names Leko and Lekolite are trademarked by Strand Lighting Co.
LENS Optical glass with one or both sides curved, the purpose of which is to direct light by concentrating or dispersing light beams.
LEVEL 1) A platform or other area for acting, above the stage floor. 2) Generically, as in "levels," to indicate a director or choreographer's positioning of performers on platforms, steps, etc. in order to get a more interesting stage picture.
LICENSE On behalf of the author(s) the representative grants a license to produce the show and collects a fee, or "royalty," for this license. Built into each performance license is specific language which governs how the copyrighted work must be presented. The license is not valid until the representative has double-checked availability, sent you a confirmation of the terms, and your check has cleared.
LIFT The orchestra pit and/or sections of the stage may be mounted on lifts to make moving of heavy items (e.g. piano etc.) easier. Sometimes the forestage doubles as the orchestra pit by use of a lift.
LIGHT CURTAIN A lighting effect which, when an area is diffused with smoke, produces a wall of light. Produced (usually) by a batten of low voltage PAR lamps wired in series. Automated versions are available which have color changers built-in and are able to tilt up and down.
LIGHT TREE A vertical pole on which horizontal arms can be mounted, carrying instruments. Often used behind wings for side-lighting, etc. Trees (or booms) have a base plate or stand at the bottom and are tied off to the grid or fly floor at the top (not always necessary for short booms). Trees can also be fixed to the rear of the proscenium arch or hung from the ends of lighting bars.
LIGHTING PLOT A scale drawing detailing the exact location of each instrument used in a production and any other pertinent information (E.g. its dimmer number, focus position and color number). Often drawn from the theatres' groundplan. In U.K, this is called a Lighting Plan; the Lighting Plot there refers to the process of recording information about each lighting state either onto paper or into the memory of a computerized lighting board for subsequent playback.
LIGHTING STATE The format of lighting used at a particular point in the production; a lighting "picture."
LIGHTING TEMPLATE Plastic stencil containing a range of scale symbols for current lighting equipment. Greatly facilitates the drawing of lighting plans. The use of a template is now supplanted by computer aided design (CAD).
LIMELIGHT An obsolete source of intensely bright light, most recently used in followspots. See limes. Derived from a burning jet of oxygen and hydrogen impinging on a rotatable cylinder of lime.
LINE 1) A rope or wire used to hang scenery, etc. 2) A portion of dialogue, usually a sentence, but also a single row in the script (thus the origin of the word). Thus, to be up on one's lines, or to ask, "What's my next line?" or simply "Line?"
LINE LEVEL SIGNAL Standard level at which the inputs and outputs of domestic and professional sound equipment operate. Slight variations are that some equipment works at +4dB, some at -10dB.
LINE REHEARSAL A rehearsal for spoken lines rather than for body movements.
LINNEBACH PROJECTOR Lensless system for projecting a shape from a gel or glass slide etc. placed in front of a floodlight onto the set. Often used for shadow effects.
LITTLE THEATRE Any small theatre, but especially one for amateur productions, often with an interest in experimentation.
LOAD 1) The electrical power rating, in watts, of the equipment connected to a particular lighting dimmer. 2) The equipment connected to a dimmer.
LOAD-IN The process of, or time-period for, moving sets, props, etc, into a theatre before a production.
LOAD-IN (electrical) 1) The electrical power rating, in watts, of the equipment connected to a particular lighting dimmer. 2) The equipment connected to a dimmer.
LOAD-OUT The process of, or time-period for, moving sets, props, etc, out of a theatre after a production.
LOADING DOCK Access into the theatre for scenery and other equipment. Also called a Loading Bay.
LOGE Seating area in traditional proscenium arch venues. Exact location varies according to the venue, but is usually a "box" position at the dress circle level. (From the French Logè).
LORT League Of Resident Theatres. It is an agreement with Actor's Equity regarding payment/treatment of actors. Prior to this agreement, Equity basically dealt with Broadway type productions and nothing else.
LOUDSPEAKER Device for converting the electrical signal from an amplifier back into sound waves, most commonly by vibrating a paper cone. Most speaker systems are composed of a number of sources - each designed to handle a specific range of frequencies. Usually shortened to just "speaker."
LOW VOLTAGE Lower voltage lamps give more intense light than mains voltage lamps of the same wattage.
LUAUN or LUAN A flexible thin plywood used for covering flats, also known as "doorskin." Also known as Philippine mahogany. Use is declining due to the fact that it is sourced from environmentally unsustainable resources in the Brazilian Rainforest.
LUMEN A measure of light output from a source.
LUMINAIRE The international term for lighting equipment. Not restricted to theatre lighting.
LYRIC The words to a song; also ''lyrics."
M.C. Abbreviation for master of ceremonies.
MAHL STICK A short stick used by scenic painters to steady the hand by resting its padded end against the surface being painted.
MAIN STAGE or MAINSTAGE The principal performance space for a theatre company.
MAKE FAST To tie a rope line, or to tie off, in order to secure a flat, curtain, or other stage object.
MAKEUP or MAKE-UP 1) verb. To change the appearance of one's face and other exposed surfaces of the body for acting through cosmetics, false hair, etc., as in "Where do we go to make-up?" 2) noun. The cosmetics themselves, as in theatrical makeup. Thus, make-up table, make-up room, make-up kit (a portable box for carrying make-up supplies).
MANUSCRIPT The unprinted text of a dramatic composition, often in the handwriting of the author. Some scripts are available from publisher/agents as photocopies of typewritten or computer printed pages. Normally this indicates an older or seldom-performed title. The word "script" is a shortened form of this word, but now refers to the printed text.
MARIONETTE A puppet controlled by strings.
MARKING OUT Sticking tapes to the floor of the rehearsal space to indicate the groundplan of the scenery. Also for marking position of furniture etc. within a set.
MAROON An electrically detonated pyrotechnic device giving the effect of a loud explosion. Made from gunpowder encased in stout cardboard or string. Must be used within a metal bomb tank. Originally developed in the second half of the last century to simulate the sound of cannon. It was often used to call out the volunteer lifeboat crew in an emergency.
MARQUEE A canopy or roof that projects over a theatre entrance towards the street, usually bearing a sign that advertises the names of the theatre, current production, actors, etc. Now, often used to mean only the sign.
MASK 1) A covering worn by an actor to conceal his/her face or head. 2) To conceal part of the stage from the audience, by means of a masking piece.
MASKING Neutral material or designed scenery which defines the performance area and conceals the technical areas. (e.g. Masking flat)
MASKING TAPE Paper-backed tape used to mark out the boundary of a surface to be painted or sprayed.
MASKS OF COMEDY AND TRAGEDY The masks represent two of the nine Greek muses. Comedy is represented by Melpomene [mel-po-men-ee] and tragedy by Thalia [thay-lee-a]. In Greek mythology, the nine muses were goddesses of the arts and sciences, and were daughters of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. Melpomene, the goddess of tragedy, is usually shown holding a tragic mask, the club of Hercules and a wreath of vine leaves. Thalia, the muse of comedy, is depicted holding a comic mask, a shepherd's crook, and a wreath of ivy. The muses were worshiped throughout ancient Greece.
MASQUE Originally, a procession of masked figures in medieval performances; later, an entertainment (particularly the first half of the 17th century) presented as part of a special celebration, with or without dialogue, usually mythological or allegorical, with music, songs, dances.
MASTER 1) An overall control on a lighting or sound control board. The Grand Master takes precedence over all other controls. See Submaster. 2) An original (e.g. Master tape, master plan) which should be used only to make a copy from which to work. 3) A Department Head (e.g. Master Carpenter, Master Electrician).
MASTER OF CEREMONIES The person who announces the various parts of a program.
MATRIX OUTPUT Set of outputs on a mixing desk which allows the user to preset a number of output configurations. e.g., on a 8 x 8 matrix, each of the 8 group outputs from the channels can be routed to any or all of the matrix outputs.
MD or M.D. 1) Musical Director. Often the conductor of a musical, or the person responsible for the musical content of a production. 2) Mini Disc. See Digital Recording.
MELODRAMA A play that is sensational, implausible in characterization, dialogue, and situation, usually with struggles between exaggerated heroes and villains, ending happily in the romantic triumph of virtue. Thus, "melodramatic," meaning to overplay or overwrite a dramatic scene.

A play in which past events, as the protagonist recalls them, become the principal portions of the dramatic action. Examples include The Glass Menagerie and Dancing at Lughnassa.

MEZZANINE A seating area just above the orchestra, or the forward part of such an area; the first balcony.
MIC (pronounced "Mike") Abbreviation for microphone.
MIC LEVEL SIGNAL Low level audio signal produced by circuitry in microphone. Needs boosting either by a pre-amp or a mixing desk before it can be amplified. Susceptible to interference over long cable runs.
MICROPHONE Device for converting sound into electrical pulses which can then be amplified or recorded onto tape. Signals from a microphone are very low level and are amplified in the mixing desk to line level.
MIDI Acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Control system for linking musical instruments or other electronic equipment and computers together and storing the control signals the equipment produces for subsequent playback.
MILK To work hard to get as much response as possible from the audience to one's acting; thus, to milk a scene dry for laughs, tears, or applause.
MIMESIS Imitation, as to mimic reality.
MINSTREL 1) A musical entertainer in a dramatic performance, particularly in medieval and Renaissance performance. 2) A performer in a minstrel show.
MINSTREL SHOW A kind of comic stage entertainment popular in the U.S. from the middle of the 19th century into the close of the 1920s, typically consisting of dialogue, songs, and dance in a set pattern, imitating African American manners and speech, performed usually by white actors in blackface. The cast included an interlocutor, as master of ceremonies and straight man; two end men as comedians; and a chorus seated in a semicircle.
MIRACLE PLAY A type of play--usually medieval--based on biblical or other sacred stories; more accurately, a play dealing with the miracles associated with a saint.
MIRROR BALL Lighting effect popular in ballrooms and other dance halls. A large plastic ball covered with small mirror pieces. When a spotlight is focused onto the ball, specks for light are thrown around the room. Usually motorized to rotate.
MISE EN SCENE The stage director's arrangement of all the elements that comprise the stage picture, including scenery, actors, lighting, costumes. From a French expression meaning "made into a scene."
MIXDOWN The process during which a multitrack recording is balanced and transferred to two tracks (stereo) for playback or reproduction.
MIXER A device with a number of input channels where each sound source is provided with its own control channel through which sound signals are routed into two or more outputs. Many mixing desks can also change the quality of the sound. A Powered Mixer has an amplifier built into it. Sound sources of varying levels are accepted which can be amplified if necessary.
MODEL A scale model provided by the set designer to help all the technical departments to co-ordinate and plan a production. Used as a reference when building, painting, dressing and lighting the set.
MONITOR 1) An onstage speaker which allows a performer to hear the output of the PA system, or other members of a band. 2) A video display screen.

A speaker/loudspeaker normally used off stage, rather than in the audience area. It allows a musician, sound engineer, crew or cast member to hear what the audience is (or should be) hearing.

MONOLOGUE or MONOLOG A dramatic performance or reading by one person alone. Many auditions require actors to prepare monologues (often one comic and one serious) as a way of determining the actor's emotional and vocal range.
MORALITY PLAY An allegorical (representational) play, with characters personifying abstractions, originally (in medieval times) serious and theologically instructive; later often dealing with non-theological topics.
MUG In acting, to use exaggerated facial expression, usually in a comedy. Thus, "mugging" "to mug," and "a mugger." The term comes from a slang word for the face.
MULTICORE Flexible electrical cable composed of several well-insulated cores covered in a strong PVC or rubber covering. Enables a number of different circuits to be carried down one piece of cable. Both lighting and sound multicores are available.
MULTIPLEXED (MUX) SIGNAL Modern lighting desks use this serial form of communication with dimmers. All the information from the desk is transmitted along a single pair of cables to the dimmer where a de-multiplexing unit (demux box) decodes the string of data and passes the correct piece of information to the correct dimmer. The industry standard protocol (language/standard) for multiplexing is the digital USITT DMX512) However, new protocols are continually being added to keep up with more demanding equipment. SMX is a communications protocol which enables digital dimmers to "report back" to the desk on any faults (e.g. blown lamps). D54 uses a stream of analogue voltage levels and was the Strand standard before DMX512 arrived.
MUMMER'S PLAY or MUMMERS' PLAY A British folk drama of death and resurrection, performed in medieval times.
MUSE Thalia is the Muse of Comedy and Melpomene is the Muse of Tragedy. Muses were minor Greek gods who were thought to inspire artistic endeavors.
MUSIC HALL A British term for a vaudeville or variety theatre, in which performers take turns in entertaining an audience.
MUSICAL COMEDY A type of theatre that entails a light comedy plot, dances, songs, spoken dialogue. The term is American, and the style came to prominence after 1914, and has never died out.
MUSICAL DIRECTOR In a musical, the person with overall responsibility for everything relating to the music.

A branch of musical theatre, in which the essentially light story takes on more heavily dramatic overtones, often with social and political issues. There is an effort to link all songs and dances to the characters, plot, and setting, as opposed to music for entertainment alone. Examples include Show Boat, Carousel, Gypsy, Company, and Evita.

MYSTERY PLAY 1) A play (usually medieval) based on a biblical story, more particularly, a play dealing with the life of Christ. 2) A play based on the detection of a crime.
NATURALISM Realism; attempting to depict life and society as it is. Usually used to describe a play in its entirety, but also the individual work of a director or actor. Thus, a naturalistic performance.
NEON 1) A type of discharge lighting generated by a high voltage across two electrodes at opposite ends of a long, thin glass tube filled with neon gas. Different colors can be obtained by mixing other gases, or by using fluorescent coatings. Mostly used for advertising signs - the glass tube is bent to form letters. 2) A small mains voltage indicator lamp.
NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTER Lighting filter that reduces the brightness of a light source without changing its color.
NOISES OFF Offstage sound effects, such as thunder, breaking glass, a crash, voices, etc.
NON DIMS Channels, usually controlled from the lighting desk which are switched, rather than dimmed. This enables motors, slide projectors, smoke machines etc to be controlled from the lighting desk.
NONPROFESSIONAL or NON-PROFESSIONAL Said of a theatre or production, as opposed to professional, to avoid the derogatory connotation sometimes understood by the term "amateur." In recent decades, however, "nonprofessional" has taken on the same derogatory connotation, sometimes used to mean "not of high quality."
NUMBER A song or dance in a musical production, so called because each musical selection is numbered for the convenience of the orchestra.
NUT The actual or estimated cost of producing a show, often figured on a weekly basis.
OFF BOOK or OFF-BOOK An actor or cast who has memorized their lines is said to be "off book." Often given as a reminder in a rehearsal schedule ("We will be off-book July 1.")
OFF-BROADWAY or OFF BROADWAY Said of professional theatres in New York City, not located in the traditional Broadway theatre area.
OFFSTAGE 1) Towards the nearest side of the stage from the center. (e.g. "Focus that spot offstage a bit, please") 2) The area out of sight of the audience (e.g. "Get that couch offstage!")
OHM The unit of electrical resistance.
OMNIDIRECTIONAL A type of microphone.
ON BOOK or ON-BOOK 1) To serve as prompter. 2) An actor who has not yet memorized his/her lines is said to be "on book."
ONSTAGE 1) The stage area visible from the audience. Thus, an onstage chair. 2) A command from a stage manager, as in "Cast onstage!"
OPEN THE HOUSE Clearance given to Front of House staff by stage management that the stage is set and the audience can begin to take their seats. When this clearance is given, the backstage call "The House is now open, please do not cross the stage" is made.
OPEN WHITE Lighting with no color filter. Sometimes written as o/w.
OPENING Short for opening night.
OPENING NIGHT The first performance of a production.
OPERA A dramatic composition for the stage in which all or most of the lines are sung, and typically dealing with heavily dramatic and/or tragic characters and situations.
OPERA BOUFFE A French expression for "comic opera."
OPERA BUFFA An Italian expression for "comic opera."

A light dramatic entertainment with much singing and little speaking, at least in the French and Viennese tradition. Voice technique approaches that of opera, but the subject matter of the story is always light and comic. Examples include Die Fledermaus, Orpheus In the Underworld, and The Merry Widow. In the U.S., operetta took a different turn, emphasizing romance over light comedy, turning out such shows as Naughty Marietta, The New Moon, The Student Prince and Rose-Marie.

ORCHESTRA PIT A sunken area, directly in front of the forestage, usually partially screened from the audience, where instrumentalists sit to play for onstage performers.
OUT 1) In flying, means up (out of sight), as in "take out the drop." 2) In lighting, means turn off or dim completely, as in "take out the number three spot."
OUTRIGGER An extendible leg to increase the stability of access equipment, such as a "cherry picker" lift or ladder.
OVERPLAY To overact.
PACE The speed at which a dramatic performance, or any part of it, is played. Pacing may involve speaking the lines more quickly, but often is improved by reducing pauses between lines. Often used to describe a show: "The pacing was off."
PAINT FRAME Large vertical wooden frame from which cloths are hung for painting. The frame is often winchable for easy access.
PANTOMIME In acting, expressive movement of the body, without words. Often shortened to "mime." In Britain, pantomime refers to a spectacular entertainment with songs and dances, and a plot drawn from nursery rhymes or fairy tales, often performed during the Christmas season.
PAPER THE HOUSE Marketing technique. Giving away tickets to a performance (e.g. Opening Night) to make a show seem to be selling better than it actually is.
PAR Short for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector lamp. A lamp containing a filament, reflector and lens in one sealed unit. Used in Parcans to produce a high intensity narrow beam of light. Par lamps are available in many different sizes and powers. Par sizes available include 16, 36, 38, 56 and 64) (The number refers to the diameter of the lens, in eighths of an inch). The most common for theatre use are Par 64s rated at 1000W (1kW), although other wattages are available.
PARALLEL 1) The folding frame that forms the base of a readily portable platform. 2) The opposite of 'series' when referring to wiring two loads into one outlet.
PARAMETRIC EQ Equalization control where the range of frequencies to be boosted or cut can be selected. Allows the "fine-tuning" of the equalization.
PART An actor's role.
PATCH PANEL A board consisting of rows of sockets into which plugs can be connected to route sound signals or power for lighting circuits.
PATCHING 1) To cross-connect lighting circuits around the stage area to a chosen dimmer. Connecting instruments to dimmers. 2) Using a cross-connect panel which enables any stage lighting channels to the control desk to control any dimmer or group of dimmers. Some large lighting boards have the facility for soft patching - a totally electronic way of patching. Some Rock Desks have a pin patch which allows groups of dimmers to be allocated to a particular control channel. Also applies to routing of sound signals.
PATRON A supporter of the theatre, especially a paying member of the audience.
PATTER A set of amusing lines, rapidly spoken or sung by an actor; also the words for such lines.
PERFORMING EDITION The published text of a dramatic work, with alterations from the standard text to match the actualities of stage production, often including staging information.
PHOTOFLOOD A lamp used by photographers which gives a bright white light. Because it has a thin filament, it gives a good flash effect (e.g. lightning), but has a relatively short life, so should not be left on for any length of time.
PICK-UP 1) Device which, when attached to an acoustic musical instrument, converts sound vibrations into an electrical signal. 2) A way of describing the directional sensitivity of a microphone. An omnidirectional microphone has equal pick-up from all around, a Cardioid microphone is more sensitive from the front, a Hypercardioid has very strong directionality from the front. A figure-of eight microphone picks up front and rear, but rejects sound from the sides.
PIN HINGE Hinge with removable pin used to join two pieces of scenery together (i.e. one half of the hinge is on each piece of scenery).
PIN SPOT A instrument focused very tightly on a small area (e.g. an actor's head) 2) A luminaire used widely in disco installations, consisting of a low voltage Par 36 lamp with a fine beam in a metal case with built in transformer.
PINK NOISE Random sounding audio noise containing all frequencies in the audio spectrum tuned to the response of the human ear. Used with a Spectrum Analyzer to set equalization equipment for a large PA installation. However, the human ear is still a better judge of how a system sounds.
PIPES The bars on which scenery and instruments are flown.
PIT Short for "orchestra pit." The area housing the orchestra. Originally, a lower section between the front of the stage and the audience, although now describes any area around the stage housing the musicians.
PITCH In acting, the height to which a voice is raised in tone. Also, to raise or lower the voice, not in volume, but according to the musical scale.
PLACES! A call to the actors to take their positions on, or just off the stage, as needed for the opening curtain.
PLAN A scale drawing showing a piece of scenery, lighting layout etc from above. Lighting plans are usually drawn onto the theatre's groundplan.
PLAY 1) A dramatic composition that tells story by means of dialogue, for an audience. 2) To act, act the role of, perform in. 3) Said of a script that is actable, or that is well received, as in "It played well."
PLAYBACK 1) The part of a computerized lighting control desk which enables the operator to recall cues from the electronic memory. 2) The results of a recording session.
PLAYBILL or PLAY-BILL A theatrical program. At one time, programs and posters were printed on a single sheet of paper (in the case of a program, on both sides). Such a printed sheet was called a "bill."
PLAYWRIGHT A person who writes plays. Note that the word ends with "wright," not "write." "Wright" means "a maker or fashioner of," as in "millwright," "shipwright," "wheelwright."
Playwrite Incorrect spelling for playwright (which see).
PLOT 1) A succession of unfolding dramatic situations. 2) List of preparations and actions required of technical crews during the performance (e.g. Sound Plot = list of sound cues and levels in running order.) The term also refers to a plan. (e.g. Light Plot = scale plan showing lighting instruments)
PLOT LINE Dialogue essential to the unfolding of the plot of a dramatic piece.
PLY Short for plywood.
POINT CUE A cue inserted during/after plotting between two existing cues. (e.g. 8.5 is inserted between cues 8 and 9 and cues by the stage manager as 8A). Most computer lighting desks have the ability to either insert an additional cue in a sequence, or to link to another cue out of the sequence, and then link back again. Inserting cues into a plotted sequence on a manual lighting desk is more awkward, because it is a running plot (where only the changes between cues are noted down).
POINT UP To stress certain lines, movements, or gestures, by directing the attention of the audience to something of dramatic importance, as in order to create suspense.
POSITION The place where an actor stands at any given moment.
PRACTICAL Noun. Any object which appears to do onstage the same job it would do in life, or any working apparatus (e.g. light switch or desk lamp). An electrified prop.
PRATFALL or PRATTFALL A stage fall on the buttocks, with humorous exaggeration.
PRE-RELEASE A dramatic work that has been awarded to a specific publishing house and is in the typesetting, proof, or printing process, but is not yet listed for licensing.
PRESENTATIONAL A style of acting and staging that relates directly to the audience, instead of attempting to represent actual life realistically in every detail (representational).
PRESET 1) Anything in position before the beginning of a scene or act (e.g. Props placed on stage before the performance, lighting state on stage as the audience are entering.) 2) An independently controllable section of a manual lighting board which allows the setting up of a lighting state before it is needed. Each preset has a master fader which selects the maximum level of dimmers controlled by that preset.
PREVIEW A function on some memory lighting control desks with video mimics. Preview enables the operator to see the levels of dimmers and other information in a lighting state other than that on stage.
PRIMARY COLORS The primary additive colors of light are red, green and blue, and the subtractive colors are cyan, magenta and yellow.
PRINCIPAL An actor who has an important or leading role; sometimes used to refer to actors with speaking parts, as opposed to walk-ons.
PRODUCER The person who arranges for the production of a play or musical, especially the financing and management.
PRODUCTION 1) Collectively, the staging of a play or musical in general, including financing, management, direction, acting, costuming, lighting, makeup, scenic design and construction. In essence, the produced work, presented to an audience. Thus, "the play" can mean the printed work, whereas "the production" always means the work as presented to the public.
PRODUCTION DESK Table in the auditorium at which director/designer etc sit during rehearsals (especially technical rehearsals). Usually has its own lighting and communications facilities.
PRODUCTION MANAGER Responsible for technical preparations, including budgeting and scheduling of productions.
PROFESSIONAL As opposed to nonprofessional or amateur, the term refers to people or a production, in which all who take part earn their living in the theatre.
PROFESSIONAL RELEASE A play licensed only to professional companies.
PROFESSIONAL RIGHTS A professional company is one that pays a salary to actors, directors, designers and other staff, whether or not the company is profit or not-for-profit. Rights for professional companies are normally based on a percentage of the gross, with an up-front payment against profits. The payment--based on seating capacity and ticket prices--is credited toward the total royalty due at the end of the run, typically based on 8-10% of the gross box office receipts, to be calculated and reported weekly.
PROFILE 1) The body position of an actor whose right or left side is turned toward the audience. 2) A shaped piece of scenery added to the edge of a flat instead of a straight edge. Also known as a cutout. 3) A type of instrument with at least one plane-convex lens which projects the outline of any chosen shape placed in its gate, sometimes with a variable degree of hardness/softness. Profiles include four beam-shaping metal shutters, a gate to take an iris or gobo and an adjustment to make the beam smooth and even ("flat") or hot in the center ("peaky").
PROJECTION The throwing of an image onto the stage by means of light, for an optical or design effect.
PROMPT To tell an actor what speech or action is required next of him, especially if he forgets during rehearsal or performance.
PROMPT BOOK Master copy of the script or score, containing all the actor moves and technical cues, used by stage management to control the performance. Sometimes known as the "book."
PROMPT DESK The control center of the show. The desk should contain most of the following: a clock, low level lighting, a flat surface for the prompt script, communication facility to other technical departments, a phone for emergency, rear and front of house calls system and cue light controls.
PROMPTER A person who is charged with prompting.
PROP or PROPS Short for "property." Furnishings, set dressings, and all items large and small which cannot be classified as scenery, electrics or wardrobe. Props handled by actors are known as hand props, props which are kept in an actors costume are known as personal props.
Property Usually shortened to "prop" or "props." See cross-reference link for more information.
PROPPING The task, usually performed by stage management, of finding, borrowing, buying props for the production.
PROPS TABLE Table in convenient offstage area on which properties are prepared prior to a performance and to which they should be returned after use.
PROSCENIUM The opening in the wall that stands between stage and auditorium in some theatres; the picture frame through which the audience sees the play. The "fourth wall." Also proscenium arch.
PROSCENIUM STAGE A stage framed by a proscenium arch. This is the most common type of stage (others include thrust and arena.)
PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM The venue auditorium sound system. Usually shortened to "PA."
PUBLISHER More accurately, in most cases a publisher/agent. In many cases the publisher is also the representative through which one seeks a license. However, not all publishers are representatives (and not all representative are publishers). For example, Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, I.E. Clark, and Music Theater International publish scripts and offer licenses. Book publishers such as Heinemann and Smith & Krause publish plays, but do not license productions. However, their books do include licensing information.
PULL FROM STOCK Retrieve scenic units, costumes, props, etc. from storage of a theatre company's stock from past productions for use in an upcoming production.
PUNCH LINE or PUNCHLINE A line of dialogue that carries particular emphasis for dramatic or comic effect. In comedy, a series of lines build one on the other, leading to the final line that brings the big laugh--the punch line.
PVC TAPE Plastic insulating tape used for taping cables to bars and for securing coiled cables. Neater and cheaper than gaffer's tape. Also known as LX tape.
PYROTECHNICS Chemical explosive or flammable firework effects with a manual detonation. Usually electrically fired with special designed fail-safe equipment. Types of pyro range from the Theatrical Flash (a flash and a cloud of smoke) to the Maroon (which produces a very loud bang). All pyrotechnics should be used with close reference to local licensing laws, and the manufacturers instructions. Most theatres require a professional, licensed pyrotechnician to be in charge.
QUICK STUDY An actor who can memorize lines quickly, as in "She's a quick study."
RACK A cabinet of standard width (19") into which various components can be bolted. Racks are ideal for touring equipment, are neat, and they allow easy access to the rear and front panels.
RADIO CONTROL System whereby battery-powered practicals / props on stage can be controllable from offstage with no connecting leads.
RADIO MIC Device consisting of a microphone head, transmitter pack with batteries, aerial and mains receiver unit which allows actors and singers to be amplified with no visible means of connection. Almost universally used in musicals where the singers have to be amplified to be heard over the orchestra / band. Used in non-musical shows for sound reinforcement.
RAIN BOX A box or tray containing dried peas, etc. which produces a rain sound effect when inclined.
RAKE The slope of a stage or an auditorium. Thus, a raked stage is one that (normally) slopes upward from downstage to upstage.
RAKED STAGE A sloping stage which is raised at the back (upstage) end. All theatres used to be built with raked stages as a matter of course. Today, the stage is often left flat and the auditorium is raked to improve the view of the stage from all seats.
RAMP A sloping platform on which an actor may walk. A ramp may lead up to the stage from the auditorium floor, from the stage floor to a platform, etc.
RC or R.C. Abbreviation for right center.
RE-RIG To change the lighting rig after the last performance of one show to the positions for the next show.
READ FOR A PART In auditions, to read one's lines aloud to a stage director or casting agent.
READERS THEATRE or READER'S THEATRE Presentation of a play in which the actors read from scripts, usually with no movement or staging.
READING 1) A rehearsal at which the actors read their parts aloud without stage movement or stage business; often the first rehearsal, to break the ice and to give the company an opportunity to get acquainted with each other as performers. 2) A presentation of a new play for or by the author, using scripts, again with no movement or stage business. 3) An actor's interpretation of his lines, as in "That's an interesting reading."
REAR OF HOUSE (ROH) The backstage and storage areas of the theatre.
REGIONAL THEATRE Said of theatres of a particular region, or of theatres in general outside of major theatrical centers, individually or collectively.
REHEARSAL A practice session to prepare a production for public performance.
REHEARSE To prepare a play for production; in particular, the work with actors to blend lines, characterization, movement and stage business into a coherent whole. Derives from the French rehercer, to harrow, to break up and loosen the soil.
RENTAL Scripts normally are purchased. However, in the case of musicals, vocal music, piano accompaniment, piano conductor score, and individual orchestra parts are rented. (In some cases, scripts also are rented.) The standard rental time is two months prior to your initial performance. Additional fees apply for each additional rental week.
REPERTORY A form of organization, 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, another in rehearsal and several others in varying degrees of planning.
REPRESENTATIVE The individual or company representing the interests of the playwright, who licenses his or her work for production. The representative's responsibilities include enforcing copyright law (prohibiting changes to the show, monitoring unlicensed productions), and securing an appropriate royalty for the author.
RESISTANCE DIMMER A now obsolete method of dimming which decreases the current available to the load by introducing a variable resistance between supply and load. The excess current is converted into heat. Based around a rheostat.
RESTRICTED Performance rights to a play may not be available if a play is running on or off-Broadway, or is on national tour. Or a professional theater in your area may have secured rights to produce the play, barring all other local productions until its run has closed. The availability of a play can change from day to day, which is why restrictions don't appear in most play catalogs. Restrictions exist because professional producers and touring groups pay much higher royalties than nonprofessionals, thus guaranteeing them exclusivity and a certain amount of freedom from competition. As a rule, all productions in New York and Los Angeles must be cleared, so allow for extra time if your theater is located in these areas. Other major cities like Chicago, Seattle or San Francisco may require additional clearance as well.
RETROFIT A modification that can be made to an existing piece of equipment after purchase to bring it up to date.
RETURN 1) Flats joined to the DS edge of flats of a set or unit that "return" into the wings. They help mask and also keep the DS edge of a set from looking raw. 2) A financial report given to theatre management staff by the box office manager on a daily or weekly basis setting out the takings for performances. 3) Route for an auxiliary signal back into a sound mixer.
REVEAL A return which is at right angles to a flat, and suggests the depth of a window, wall, doorway etc.
REVERB (Reverberation) 1) Effect which may be added to sound effects during recording or to a voice during performance. Sustains the sound longer than normal, as if the sound was reverberating around a large building (e.g. cathedral). 2) Persistence of sound after the source has ceased.
REVOLVE A turntable built into the stage floor on which scenery can be set and then driven into view. Can be electrically chain driven, or manually pushed into position. A revolve can also be built on top of an existing stage.

A series of songs, dances, and sketches, assembled to present a theme, but without a plot or through storyline. Examples include Cats, Ain't Misbehavin', You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.

RF Radio Frequency
RIAA Record Industry Association of America. The standard equalization to be applied to a signal from a record deck pick-up. Phono pre-amps have RIAA circuitry built-in.
RIG 1) The construction or arrangement of lighting equipment for a particular production. (noun) 2) Installing lighting, sound equipment and scenery etc for a particular show. (verb)
RIGGING Collectively, the ropes, wires, blocks, pulleys, pins, counterweights, and other pieces of equipment needed in the manipulation of scenery and stage drapery. A simple counterweight system is based on the principle of establishing a balanced set of weights that allow a stagehand to raise and lower various loads with minimal effort. Complete rigging systems consist of one or more counterweight sets. Each is comprised of a pipe batten suspended from lifting cables which pass over loft block sheaves, then over the head block at one side of the stage and down to the counterweight arbor.
RIGHT CENTER or CENTER RIGHT A stage position or area just to the right (the audience's left) of the exact center of the stage.
RIGHTS The author, via the representative or publisher, confers on a theater company the right to produce a staged production as set forth in the contract signed by the producing company.
RISER 1) Any platform on stage. For instance, the series of platforms for choral presentations are called choral risers, the rostrum on which a drum kit and drummer is positioned is the drum riser. 2) The vertical portion of a step which gives a set of treads its height.
ROAD MANAGER (ROADIE) Touring technician with one night shows, particularly music groups. Large groups will have a roadie in charge of a particular instrument or set of instruments who is responsible for the correct unloading and setting up (tuning etc) of the instruments before the artists arrive onstage for the sound check.
ROAD SHOW A touring production.
ROH (Rear of House) The backstage areas of the theatre, but sometimes also used to indicate any control room area behind the audience.
ROLL DROP Drops flown on rollers
ROLLER A system whereby cloths can be rolled up/down instead of flying in/out in a theatre where there is no fly tower, or limited flying height.
ROYALTY FEE Royalties are the authors' way of being paid for the use of their show (their "intellectual property"). The authors of a musical may include the book writer (who writes the dialogue), the composer (who writes the music), and the lyricist (who writes the words to the music). Their right to be paid for use of their work is guaranteed by U.S. copyright law. A royalty fee is due whenever a play is presented in front of an audience?-whether an admission is charged or not. This includes classroom presentations, benefits, or private shows. The fact that a performance is a free or a benefit is taken into account when fees are quoted.
ROYALTY HOUSE An informal term describing publisher-representatives such as Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, I.E. Clark, Pioneer, Encore, Music Theater International, and Tams-Witmark. These companies sell or rent scripts and scores and also license plays for production, acting as the playwright's agent by collecting royalties on a copyrighted title. Sometimes referred to as a publisher, or publisher-agent.
RUN A sequence of performances of the same production, as in "This show will run for years," or "How long a run do you expect?"
RUNNERS 1) A pair of curtains parting in the center and running horizontally, particularly those used in a downstage position in variety and revue productions. 2) Persons employed as production assistants to do odd jobs and errands during a production period.
RUNNING PLOT A plot giving details of the changes between cues, as distinct from a state plot which gives the whole state of the system at any time. For example, a lighting plot on a manual board is normally a running plot. It is difficult to start a running plot half way through; often the operator has to go back to the beginning and work through until the required point is reached.
RUNWAY A narrow projection of the stage, into the orchestra pit or into the aisle of the auditorium, on which a performer can walk.
SAFETY CHAIN Chain or wire fixed around lantern and lighting bar or boom to prevent danger in the event of failure of the primary support (e.g. Hook Clamp). A requirement of most licensing authorities.
SAFETY CURTAIN A fireproof curtain that can be dropped downstage of the tabs to separate the audience from the stage in the event of fire. A Safety Curtain is required by most licensing authorities for theatres over 500 seats. The regulations also require that it is raised and lowered at least once in view of each audience (usually during the interval). Usually made from sheet metal and electrically operated, used to be made from iron faced with asbestos and lowered using a hydraulic damping system.
SAMPLING The technique of recording a sound digitally (translating the analogue audio waveform into a series of electrical ones and offs that can be manipulated by a computer) for subsequent processing, editing and playback.
SAND BAG Attached to an unused spot line to stop it running back through the pulleys, and to enable it to fly in without fouling adjacent equipment.
SCALPER Someone who buys scarce tickets to a popular production and re-sells them to the highest bidder.
SCENE 1) A full-length play normally is divided into acts, and each act is divided into scenes. Typically a new scene depicts a different location or different day or time. The term also is used to describe any portion of a dramatic work taken by itself as a unit of action. 2) Scenery, a stage setting. 3) The location in which a dramatic action is supposed to occur. 4) Location or situation, as in "to set the scene."
SCENE DOCK High-ceilinged storage area adjacent to the stage, sometimes used for building and storing flats and other scenery.
SCENE SHIFT A movement of scenery by stagehands to change a stage setting between scenes.
SCENE SHOP The area where scenery is built or repaired.
SCENERY The elements of a stage setting, especially those made of wood and canvas, or any other material used to construct platforms, flats, walls, doors and backdrops.
SCENIC PAINT Traditionally, a mixture of glue size, water and pigment. Modern practice has also adopted PVA (emulsion glaze) as a bonding medium which can be used when scenery has got to be washed and used again.
SCOOP Lighting instrument designed to cast unfocused light over a large area.
SCREEN (PROJECTION) Many types of projection screen are available. Some are multi-purpose, some only for front projection, some only for back projection. If a screen is not self-supporting, it often has eyelets around the outside edge which are used to "lace" the screen onto a larger frame.
SCREW EYE A threaded metal ring screwed to the rear of a flat for securing a stage brace.
SCRIM A coarse gauze-like material used as a drop. When lighted from the front only, the scrim appears opaque. As light is brought up behind, it becomes more transparent--totally so when front light is cut off. Used unpainted to diffuse a scene played behind it. When painted, a gauze is opaque when lighted from the front and becomes transparent when the scene behind it is lighted. Many different types of gauze are available; Sharkstooth gauze is the most effective for transformations, because it is the most opaque. Vision gauze is used for diffusing a scene, to create a dreamlike effect.
SCRIPT The printed text of a dramatic work.
SEASON 1) The annual period when the theatre is most active, often from September to June, or June-August for a summer season. 2) A series of productions for the year, as in "the season includes 3 dramas, two comedies, and a musical."
SECOND STAGE A term used to describe a smaller playing area than the main stage, often for experimental or specialized theatre.
SECURITY DEPOSIT Charged for rental materials to ensure their safe return. The fee is refunded upon return of the rental materials, minus any shipping/handling charges, outstanding balances, damage or loss of material. Rented materials must be returned free of pencil marks (always use pencil to mark rental materials; pen won't erase and you may lose your deposit.
SEGUE (Pronounced "segg-way") Musical term for an immediate follow-on. Often used as jargon for any kind of immediate follow-on.
SEND An additional output from a sound desk which can be used for foldback or monitoring without tying up the main outputs. Each input channel will have a path to the Aux buss. Also used for feeding a signal to an effects processor. Also known as "Auxiliary Output"
SEQUENCING An act of recording digitally and manipulating the MIDI information required to remotely play a synthesizer keyboard or similar device.
SET 1) To prepare the stage for action. (verb) 2) The complete stage setting for a scene or act, usually referring to the combination of flats, platforms, doors, windows, furniture and accessories. (noun) 3) To fix, through rehearsal, the general pattern of lines and movements to be followed by the actors, as in "This section is set, but we need to work on the final moments of act two."
SET PIECE or SET-PIECE A piece of scenery used in a set that is not flown, but stands independent within a stage setting, such as a tree, rock, or gate.
SETTING The designing and staging of the locale and background of a play. Sometimes referred to as the stage setting.
SFX Abbreviation for Sound Effects
SHEAVE The wheel in a pulley which carries the wire or rope.
SHIN BUSTER The lowest lantern on a lighting boom. Named because of the proximity of sharp parts of the lantern to the flesh of the lower leg.
SHOW RELAY A network of speakers carrying the sound of the show, and sometimes stage managers calls, to the furthest reaches of the theatre.
SHOW REPORT A written report by stage management giving problems, running times, show staff and audience numbers for the previous days' performance(s). Copies are circulated to the technical departments and management staff.
SHOWBOAT or SHOW BOAT A boat on which dramatic or musical entertainments are performed, usually on a river. Historically, showboats were built on barges, pushed or towed by the more familiar multi-storied steamboats.
SHOWCASE A production intended to display the talents of performers for prospective employment, or for publicity.
SHUTTER Accessory for a lighting instrument. Usually a metal blade that can be used to shape the edge of the beam. Shutters (normally four) are located in the gate at the center of the lantern. Similar in effect to barn doors.
SIGHT GAG A visual source of comedy, resulting from situation, business, or props.
SIGHTLINES or SIGHT LINES A series of lines drawn on plan and section to indicate the limits of the audience vision from extreme seats, including side seats and front and back rows. Often marked in the wings as a guide to the actors and crew, so as not to be seen by members of the audience.
SILK A special type of diffusion filter which stretches the light in one direction. Especially useful for lighting large cycloramas with a limited number of lanterns, or for lighting an elongated object (e.g. a staircase) with one lantern.
SINGLE PURCHASE Counterweight flying system where the cradle travels the same vertical distance as the fly bar. The counterweight frame therefore occupies the full height of the side wall of the stage.
SLAPSTICK or SLAP-STICK A rough, noisy comic style. The term comes from the use in burlesque and vaudeville of a pair of lath paddles fastened together at one end, and used to "slap" noisily another comic.
SLEEPER A show that is an unexpected success.
SLIGHTLY RESTRICTED A term used when applications for a dramatic work are being accepted on a case-by-case basis because of current or future major city tours.
SMOKE or FOG MACHINE Electrically powered unit which produces clouds of white non-toxic fog (available in different flavors/smells) by the vaporization of mineral oil. Specially designed for theatre & film use. Vital for revealing airborne light beams.
SNAP LINE Chalked piece of string which, when stretched tight and "snapped" is used for marking straight lines on stage or on scenery as a painting aid.
SNUB To seize the lines on a flying piece to prevent it's movement, either with another rope or with a mechanical line locking device.
SOFT EDGE or SOFT-EDGE Said of stage lighting that is not sharply defined, and which gradually diminishes towards the boundaries of the area towards which it is directed. Used also to describe a lighting unit that throws such illumination, such as a soft-edge spotlight.
SOLILOQUY A solo speech, or monologue, usually fairly long, to convey a character's thoughts to the audience, either while alone on the stage, or in the presence of others who are supposed not to hear him.
SOUBRETTE A minor female role, such as a maid, in comedy.
SOUND CHECK A thorough test of the sound system before a performance. This will include checking each speaker cabinet individually, and each playback device. In the case of a live concert, this is the session.
SOUND CUE A cue for the commencement of a sound effect.
SOUND EFFECTS 1) Recorded: Often abbreviated to FX. There are many sources for recorded sound effects, most recently on Compact Disc. May form an obvious part of the action (train arriving at station) or may be in the background throughout a scene (e.g. birds chirping). 2) Live: Gunshots, door slams, and offstage voices (amongst many others) are most effective when done live.
SOUND REINFORCEMENT Amplifying a voice just enough so that it can be heard, without the audience being aware that it is being amplified.
SPEAKER Short for loudspeaker
SPECIAL A lighting instrument used for a very specific purpose, rather than as part of a system such as an area light or color wash.
SPIDER Adapter to connect many lighting instruments to one multicore cable. Consists of multi-pin connector, short length of cable, then a number of sockets related to the number of circuits in the cable.
SPIKE To mark the position of an item of set/furniture on stage, using chalk, paint, or tape. Sometimes called a spike mark.
SPILL Unwanted light onstage.
SPINE In the Stanislavksi method, the dominant trait in the character assumed by the actor.
SPOTLIGHT General term for any lantern with a lens system.
SQUELCH Control on a radio microphone receiver for fine-tuning the reception according to the surroundings.
STAGE BUSINESS Incidental activity performed by an actor for dramatic or comic effect. This might include writing a letter, lighting a pipe, having trouble with a door, checking a mirror, etc.
STAGE CONVENTION Any action that would be odd in real life, but accepted as normal on stage, such as a stage whisper, ensemble singing, spotlighting, the use of verse, mistaken identities, soliloquies, etc.
STAGE DIRECTIONS The printed instructions to actors and/or directors found in published plays, as in "John pauses and considers Mary's words, then walks to the window and peers out."
STAGE ELECTRICIAN Member of the electrics staff whose responsibility it is to set or clear electrics equipment during scene changes. May also carry out color changes on booms, etc.
STAGE LEFT Actor's left when facing the audience.
STAGE MANAGER The Head of the stage management team comprising the deputy stage manager (DSM) and assistant stage manager (ASM). The DSM is normally "on the book" calling the cues from the prompt corner. The ASM supervises props. Depending on the needs of the production, there may be a team of stagehands, usually casual employees.
STAGE RIGHT Actor's right when facing the audience.
STAGE SCREW A large screw which is screwed through the "foot" of a stage brace to secure it to a strong wooden floor. Only suitable for use in theatres with non-precious wooden floors.
STAGECRAFT or STAGE CRAFT Skill in--or the art of--producing or participating in the production of a dramatic piece, especially in the technical area.
STANISLAVSKI or STANISLAVSKY Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski (1863- 1938) created a performance technique that had an enormous effect on contemporary American acting, and he developed a system of actor training that became widely accepted throughout the world. Stanislavsky decided that a technique was needed that would guide the actor and create a "favorable condition for the appearance of inspiration." His system does not consist of a fixed set of rules but of practical approaches to the physical and mental preparation of the actor and to the creation of a character.
STATE In lighting terms, a lighting "picture" ; each lighting cue results in a different state (or a modified state).
STEAL or STEAL FOCUS An actor's seizure of the attention of the audience when he has no right to it, as by unfairly moving upstage center so that he commands the best position, forcing other actors to turn their backs to the audience
STEP A control on some lighting effects boards which enables the operator to "step" through a chase effect in time to music, etc.
STEP ON THE LAUGHS To proceed to another line too soon after a joke or punch line, cutting short an expected laugh.
STOCK COMPANY An acting company whose members play all the roles in a series of plays, as opposed to casting each play separately.
STOCK RIGHTS Royalty paid for a play used by a stock company.
STOCK SCENERY A variety of scenic units that a theatre has available in storage and can be used and reused for productions.
STRIKE To take down a set after a production has closed. The use of the word "strike" in the theatrical sense of taking down scenery was recorded more than one hundred years ago--although builders had used the word as early as the 17th century to mean "remove" and sailors to mean "lower" (a mast or sail) in the 14th century. Today, it is usual to strike a set directly after the final performance, and there is good reason for doing so--a full complement of workers, both cast and crew.
STROBE Short for stroboscope. A device giving a fast series of very short intense light flashes which can have the effect of making action appear intermittent. Because strobe lighting can trigger an epileptic attack in sufferers, the use of a strobe must be communicated to the audience before the performance begins. Regulations exist governing the maximum length of time for which a strobe can be used.
SWAG A particularly artistic way of drawing a set of tabs (drapes) diagonally up at the same time as flying them out.
SWING A member of the company of a musical who understudies one of the leads and is also in the chorus, but doesn't have a character name in the chorus.
TAB 1) Originally a "tableaux curtain" which drew outwards and upwards, but now generally applied to any stage curtains including a vertically flying front curtain (house tabs) and especially a pair of horizontally moving curtains which overlap at the center and move outwards from that center. 2) Short for tabloid, referring to a condensed version of a show.
TAB DRESSING Lighting focused onto the house tabs.
TEASER Border, usually black, set behind the proscenium and linked with tormentors to form an inner frame to the stage, and to mask the upper parts of the fly tower.
TECHIE A stage technician. Some find this term endearing, others think it demeaning.
TECHNICAL REHEARSAL or TECH REHEARSAL Usually the first time the show is rehearsed in the venue, with lighting, scenery and sound. Costumes are sometimes used where they may cause technical problems (e.g. Quick changes). Often a very lengthy process. Often abbreviated to "the tech."
THESPIAN Pertaining to acting, or an actor, as in "she is a true thespian." Derived from the name of Thespis, a Greek tragic poet of the sixth century BC, who is said to have first introduced an actor into dramatic presentations, which until then had been performed only by a chorus with a leader.
THROW Distance between a light source (e.g. lantern or projector) and the actor or object being lit.
THROW AWAY or THROW-AWAY To underemphasize or underplay lines or stage business, either deliberately (in order to bring out other lines or business by contrast) or aimlessly (from weakness of technique). Thus, to throw away one's lines, or a throw-away line.
THROW LINE A rope used to hold adjacent flats together as one via cleats.
THRUST Form of stage that projects into the auditorium so that the audience are seated on at least two sides of the extended piece.
THUNDER SHEET Large suspended steel sheet with handles which produces a thunder-like rumble when shaken or beaten.
TOP HAT Cylinder of metal inserted into color runners on the front of a Par Can or other lantern to limit spill light.
TORMENTORS Narrow masking flats adjacent and sometimes at right angles to the proscenium arch.
TRANSDUCER A device that converts energy from one form to another. A microphone is a transducer that converts sound wave energy into electrical pulses.
TRANSFORMATION An instant scene change, often effected by exploiting the varying transparency of gauze under different lighting conditions.
TRANSVERSE Form of staging where the audience is on either side of the acting area.
TRAP An opening through the stage floor. A grave trap is a lowered rectangular section used in Hamlet etc. A cauldron trap is a simple opening through which items can be passed into a cauldron on stage. A star trap is a set of triangular sprung flaps in the stage floor through which an actor can be propelled from a lift below stage.
TRAP ROOM The area directly below the trapped part of the stage. Used for accessing the traps.
TRAVELER A draw curtain that opens and closes from one side only.
TRAVELLER Curtain or scenic piece moving on horizontal tracks.
TREADS General name for any stage staircase or set of steps. The step of the staircase is called the tread, and the height of the staircase depends on the number of risers. The length of the staircase is called the going. Treads can be either open or closed string - meaning whether the riser is solid.
TRIM A pre-plotted height for a piece of scenery or lighting bar--usually measured against the height of the teaser. Sometimes flying pieces are given a number of extra trims, that may be color coded, in addition to the "in trim" (lower) and "out trim" (higher - out of view).
TRIPPING Rolling up a cloth drop that can't be flown out of sight.
TRUSS A framework of alloy bars and triangular cross-bracing (usually of scaffolding diameter) providing a rigid structure, particularly useful for hanging lights where no permanent facility is available.
TUMBLING Flying a drop from the bottom as well as the top when there is insufficient height to fly it in the normal way.
TURKEY A show that fails deservedly. According to tradition, the term derives from "turkey actors" who took part in weak Thanksgiving productions that the indulgent public patronized as an annual tradition.
TURNBUCKLE Threaded device which is used to tension a wire, or to provide an adjustable link in a cable, to fine-tune the height of flown scenery. (Known in the UK as a bottle screw.)
TWEETER Part of a speaker system designed to handle the high frequency part of the signal.
TYPE Typecast, typecasting, or type casting may mean: Typecasting (acting), the process by which an actor is strongly identified with a specific character, role, or trait--referred to as a "type." For example, an actor may play an outspoken senior citizen, which is a type. But if the actor plays that role routinely, they may become typecast, sought only for such a role. An actor's height, weight, hair color, nationality or ethnicity may also impact their being cast, because the director or casting director may see the actor themself as a "type," rather than an actor who can play multiple types.
UNDERSTUDY To learn the role of another actor so that if necessary one may take their place,as in "I understudied the role of King Henry." Also, an actor who so prepares him or herself, as in "She was Patricia's understudy."
UNITY Completeness of a work of literature ("unities of form and time") The key qualities in the construction of a tragedy's plot, Aristotle said, are: it has a beginning, middle, and end (i.e., is complete); and it is of appropriate size to be "easily embraced in one view" or "easily embraced by the memory" [long enough to move a character "from calamity to good fortune, or from good fortune to calamity." For this reason, Aristotle says good plays resemble living organisms. (This idea has a rebirth in Romanticism's "organic form" theory.) An "episodic" plot is: one that moves from incident to incident without necessary or probable cause. In addition to unity of form and time, Aristotle also said a plot should be unified.
UP STAGE or UPSTAGE The part of the stage furthest from the audience.
UPSTAGE or UPSTAGING An actor's seizure of the attention of the audience when he has no right to it, as by unfairly moving upstage center so that he commands the best position, forcing other actors to turn their backs to the audience.
USITT United States Institute for Theatre Technology
VERTICAL SIGHT LINES Imaginary lines drawn from the highest seats of the audience area, often in a balcony, and from the seats in the front row, to the lowest hanging obstructions over the stage, to determine what portions of the performing area will be visible to all of the audience.
VISUAL CUE A cue taken by a technician from the action on stage rather than being cued by the stage manager.
VOLTAGE The "pressure" at which electric current is available. The American standard is 110 Volts. The UK standard voltage is 240 Volts.
VOM or VOMITORIUM A passageway, originally for spectators, used to clear the seating area in quick fashion. Also used to describe a ramped passage that allows actors to run onstage from below (and run back).
VU METER VU - Volume Unit). Pointer and scale meter which indicates the average level of a signal. Misses any transients and spikes that lead to a clipped signal.
WAGON Wheeled platform on which a scene or part of a scene is built to facilitate scene changing.
WAGON SET Wheeled platform on which a complete set is built to facilitate scene changing.
WAGON STAGE Mechanized stage where the scenery is moved into position on large sliding wagons as wide as the proscenium opening, from storage in large areas to the side and rear of the main stage. This system enables incredibly complex and otherwise time-consuming scene changes to occur almost instantly.
WARDROBE The 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, with a detailed breakdown into every separate item in each costume.
WARM COLOR Generally, a color that is in the yellow/orange/red range, as opposed to a cool (blue/green/purple) or neutral.
WASH An even, overall illumination over a large area of the stage. Also, to create such an illumination.
WATTS Unit of electrical power derived from the current (or "quantity" of electricity) multiplied by the voltage (or "pressure" at which the current is delivered). Stage lighting equipment is rated in Watts (or Kilowatts - 1kW being equal to 1000W). This refers to the amount of power required to light the lamp. A higher wattage lamp requires more power and gives a brighter light output.
WAVELENGTH The distance from one point on a vibrating wave to the same point on the next wave. The lengths of the sound waves (wavelengths) we can hear range from one inch to 40 feet. High frequency sounds have short wavelengths (and are more directional), low frequency sounds have long wavelengths (and are less directional). In lighting terms, blue light is short wavelength, green is medium and red is long wavelength. Beyond visible light are the short wavelength Ultra Violet light and the long wavelength Infra Red light.
WEDGE A speaker/sound monitor that is angled so that it can sit on the stage floor and point up at musicians/cast.
WHITE NOISE A type of noise that is produced by combining sounds of all different frequencies together. If you took all of the imaginable tones that a human can hear and combined them together, you would have white noise. Because white noise contains all frequencies, it is frequently used to mask other sounds. If you are in a hotel and voices from the room next-door are leaking into your room, you might turn on a fan to drown out the voices. The fan produces a good approximation of white noise.
WINGS 1) The out of view areas to the sides of the acting area. 2) Scenery standing where the acting area joins these technical areas.
WOOFER 1) Part of a speaker system designed to handle the low frequency parts of the signal. 2) A loudspeaker that reproduces low-frequency sounds, such as bass or organ notes.
WORK LIGHTS 1) High wattage lights used in a venue when the stage/auditorium lighting is not on. Used for rehearsals, fit-up, strike, and resetting. 2) Low wattage blue lights used to illuminate offstage obstacles and props tables, etc.
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