Theatre Terms | Page 11 | AACT

Theatre Terms

image of question markAs a service to the theatre community, AACT provides over 1000 definitions of theatrical terms.  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
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.


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