Theatre Terms | Page 46 | 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
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.


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