Theatre Terms | Page 39 | 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
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).


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