Theatre Terms | Page 5 | 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
BABY SPOTLIGHT A small spotlight used at a short distance to give sharp illumination to an actor's face, or to a limited portion of the acting area.
BACK (verb) To invest in a prospective production.
BACK DROP or BACKDROP A large curtain, usually painted to represent the sky, a landscape, or some other background, dropped upstage to form the back of a wing set and to mask the backstage space; now commonly supplanted by a cyclorama.
BACK FLAT A flat used at the back of the stage.
BACK LIGHTING or BACKLIGHTING The illumination of a scene from behind the actors, usually from the back of the stage.
BACK OF THE HOUSE The parts of the theatre behind the proscenium, or behind the stage setting.
BACK PIECE or BACK-PIECE A wig for the back of the head only.
BACK STAGE or BACKSTAGE Collectively, the parts of the theatre that lie behind the proscenium arch (or behind the back wall of the stage setting), including the stage, the workshops, the dressing rooms, and the areas and spaces beside, above, or under the stage. Sometimes used only to refer to the dressing rooms and green rooms, or even just the off-stage areas.
BACK WALL The rear wall of the stage or stage setting.
BACKER A person who invests in a prospective production; an angel.
BACKFLAP A pin hinge capable of being turned back on itself, used to join flats.
BACKGROUND 1) The setting or scenic display before which actors perform (short for scenic background). 2) In a script, previous events, environment. 3) Background music.
BACKGROUND SCENE An expository scene in which the events and dialogue indicate the time, the place, or other information needed by the spectator.
BACKING 1) Scenic piece as a backing behind an opening in the set (window etc.) which hides the technical areas beyond. 2) The money invested in a commercial production (by a Backer).
BACKING LIGHT A low-wattage light, used to give diffused illumination to the space beyond openings such as doors, and placed behind, or less often in front of a backing.
BACKLIGHT Light coming from upstage, behind scenery or actors, to sculpt and separate them from the background.
BAD LAUGH An audience's laugh at the wrong moment.


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