Theatre Terms | Page 44 | 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
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.


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