Theatre Terms | Page 50 | 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
TRIM A pre-plotted height for a piece of scenery or lighting bar--usually measured against the height of the teaser. Sometimes flying pieces are given a number of extra trims, that may be color coded, in addition to the "in trim" (lower) and "out trim" (higher - out of view).
TRIPPING Rolling up a cloth drop that can't be flown out of sight.
TRUSS A framework of alloy bars and triangular cross-bracing (usually of scaffolding diameter) providing a rigid structure, particularly useful for hanging lights where no permanent facility is available.
TUMBLING Flying a drop from the bottom as well as the top when there is insufficient height to fly it in the normal way.
TURKEY A show that fails deservedly. According to tradition, the term derives from "turkey actors" who took part in weak Thanksgiving productions that the indulgent public patronized as an annual tradition.
TURNBUCKLE Threaded device which is used to tension a wire, or to provide an adjustable link in a cable, to fine-tune the height of flown scenery. (Known in the UK as a bottle screw.)
TWEETER Part of a speaker system designed to handle the high frequency part of the signal.
TYPE Typecast, typecasting, or type casting may mean: Typecasting (acting), the process by which an actor is strongly identified with a specific character, role, or trait--referred to as a "type." For example, an actor may play an outspoken senior citizen, which is a type. But if the actor plays that role routinely, they may become typecast, sought only for such a role. An actor's height, weight, hair color, nationality or ethnicity may also impact their being cast, because the director or casting director may see the actor themself as a "type," rather than an actor who can play multiple types.
UNDERSTUDY A performer cast in the ensemble of a musical (or minor role in a play) who is responsible for covering a lead and/or supporting role(s)
UNITY Completeness of a work of literature ("unities of form and time") The key qualities in the construction of a tragedy's plot, Aristotle said, are: it has a beginning, middle, and end (i.e., is complete); and it is of appropriate size to be "easily embraced in one view" or "easily embraced by the memory" [long enough to move a character "from calamity to good fortune, or from good fortune to calamity." For this reason, Aristotle says good plays resemble living organisms. (This idea has a rebirth in Romanticism's "organic form" theory.) An "episodic" plot is: one that moves from incident to incident without necessary or probable cause. In addition to unity of form and time, Aristotle also said a plot should be unified.
UP STAGE or UPSTAGE The part of the stage furthest from the audience.
UPSTAGE or UPSTAGING An actor's seizure of the attention of the audience when he has no right to it, as by unfairly moving upstage center so that he commands the best position, forcing other actors to turn their backs to the audience.
USITT United States Institute for Theatre Technology
VERTICAL SIGHT LINES Imaginary lines drawn from the highest seats of the audience area, often in a balcony, and from the seats in the front row, to the lowest hanging obstructions over the stage, to determine what portions of the performing area will be visible to all of the audience.
VISUAL CUE A cue taken by a technician from the action on stage rather than being cued by the stage manager.
VOLTAGE The "pressure" at which electric current is available. The American standard is 110 Volts. The UK standard voltage is 240 Volts.
VOM or VOMITORIUM A passageway, originally for spectators, used to clear the seating area in quick fashion. Also used to describe a ramped passage that allows actors to run onstage from below (and run back).
VU METER VU - Volume Unit). Pointer and scale meter which indicates the average level of a signal. Misses any transients and spikes that lead to a clipped signal.
WAGON Wheeled platform on which a scene or part of a scene is built to facilitate scene changing.


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