Theatre Terms | Page 12 | 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.

Click on a letter (A-Z) below to find terms beginning with the specified letter, OR enter a word in "Search for Term" OR search by entering a word in "Words in Definition." For example, entering the word "curtain" would display all words whose definition includes that word. (Note: If the A-Z or word search has been activated, it must be reset before using "Search for Term" or "Words in Definition." To reset the A-Z search: Click Here)

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Term Definition Link
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.


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