Theatre Terms | 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
ABOVE 1) Elizabethan stage directions for a location on an upper stage or in a gallery. 2) Stage direction (mostly obsolete) for upstage, upstage of.
ABSTRACT SETTING A stage setting that is stylized rather than photorealistic or representational; that is, one that does not attempt to present a realistic stage picture.
ACCENT LIGHTING Lighting that stresses certain stage areas. It may be done with intensity and/or color. An "accent light" is one that provides such illumination.
ACN Advanced Control Network. Show control protocol using ethernet, designed to improve on the limitations of DMX512.
ACOUSTIC Pertaining to sound.
ACOUSTICS The behavior of sound and its study. The acoustics of a room depend on its size and shape and the amount and position of sound-absorbing and reflecting material.
ACT 1) One of the principal structural divisions of a dramatic work, usually, in a play, from one to five in number. 2) To perform, to represent a character in a dramatic production. Hence acting. 3) A solo performance created and/or presented by the performer, as in "a Las Vegas act."
ACT CURTAIN A curtain behind the fireproof curtain, and behind the grand drape, if there is one, closing the proscenium opening, and raised (or drawn) to reveal the stage during an act or scene.
ACT DROP Victorian stretched framed and painted canvas. Used as a visual stimulation during scene changes, and to indicate that there was more to come. Term now used to refer to any front cloth or tabs lowered during intervals. Especially pantomime / musicals.
ACT WARNING A stage manager's call to actors and crew to announce the timing remaining before the beginning of an act, or scene.
ACTING AREA That area within the performance space within which the actor may move in full view of the audience. Also, a specific portion of such an area actually used for acting during all or part of a performance.
ACTION 1) The physical movement of an actor on the stage. 2) The movement or development of the plot of a dramatic work, or an incident in that movement, as it is revealed or meant to be revealed by actors on the stage through dialogue, physical movement, etc. Short for "dramatic action."
ACTIVE A piece of circuitry is termed active if it needs a power supply for it to function. (Active DI box, Active crossover etc.) Circuitry that needs no additional power supply is termed passive (e.g. resistors & capacitors in a crossover). Passive circuits use the electrical sound signal itself to operate the components. OR A piece of circuitry is termed active if it amplifies a signal supplied to it. A passive circuit does not increase the level of a signal.
ACTOR Originally a male performer in a play, with "actress" used for women. Today, "actor" is increasingly used for both male and female performers.


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