Theatre Terms | Page 13 | 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
COMEDY OF CHARACTER A comedy that relies on character study for its chief interest, as opposed to slapstick, farce or other stylistic approaches.
COMEDY OF HUMORS A realistic, satiric comedy in which the dramatic action evolves from a single dominant trait in the character of each person satirized. 17th & 18th centuries.
COMEDY OF MANNERS A comedy that is gay, witty, sophisticated, and usually set against a background of aristocratic or well-to-do society. The terms "comedy of manners," "drawing-room comedy" and "high comedy" are often interchangeable.
COMEDY-DRAMA A play somewhat heavier than comedy, but with a happy ending.
COMIC OPERA A musical dramatic entertainment consisting of dialogue both spoken and sung, with comic incidents and characters and a happy ending. Sometimes synonymous with musical comedy, but more often used to refer to late 19th century works such as those by Gilbert & Sullivan.
COMIC RELIEF A comic or farcical scene or incident introduced into tragedy or any serious play to give the audience a momentary respite from emotional tension before further tension is required.
COMMAND PERFORMANCE In Britain, a performance given at the royal family's request By extension, even in the U.S., it has come to mean a required event or activity.
COMMEDIA DELL'ARTE A comedy of stock characters with masks, in which the actors improve on a prearranged scenario. Developed in Italy, 16th to 18th centuries, but influential on acting and dramatic forms ever since.
COMMUNITY THEATRE "Community theatre" generally refers to a nonprofit theatre company that serves a locality, relies heavily on volunteers, and does not use Equity (union) actors on a regular basis. Community theatres tend to be operated for local recreation, education, and commonly seek to obtain the patronage and production participation of the community as a whole. Note that the spelling of "theater" or "theatre" is a matter of choice. "Theatre" is most common in Great Britain and France. In the United States, both spellings are used.
COMPANDER Outboard sound equipment. Combination of a Compressor and an Expander.
COMPANY 1) The cast, crew and other staff associated with a show. 2) The theatre organization, a theatre company. 3) A group of actors appearing together in one or more dramatic performances.
COMPLEMENTARY COLORS Pairs of colors which, when additively mixed, combine to produce white light. Examples are red + cyan, green + magenta, and yellow + blue.
COMPLIMENTARY A seat or ticket that is provided free, as to a reviewer, parents of a cast member, a contributor or other supporter.
COMPRESSOR 1) A device that pumps out liquids or air under pressure, usually for spraying paint or chemicals. 2) A piece of sound processing equipment that ensures all wanted signals are suitably placed between the noise and distortion levels of the recording medium. It evens out the unwanted changes in volume you get with close-miking, and in doing so, adds punch to the sound mix. A limiter is used to stop a signal from exceeding a preset limit. Beyond this limit, the signal level will not increase, no matter how loud the input becomes. A limiter is often used to protect speaker systems (and human ears) by preventing a system from becoming too loud.
CONCESSIONAIRE A person who buys the right to operate a refreshment stand or similar business supported by the purchases of theatre patrons.
CONDENSER LENS Loosely applied to any spotlight lens which condenses diverging rays into a beam, but more correctly to the short focus combination of two or more lenses in a jacket used for illuminating a slide or effect disc. Also used in some profile lamps and followspots to produce a smoother light (especially for gobo work).
CONDENSER MIC A microphone that uses the varying capacitance between two plates with a voltage applied across them to convert sound to electrical pulses. Condenser microphones need a power supply to provide the voltage across the plates, which may be provided by a battery within the case of the microphone, or it may be provided from an external phantom power supply. A condenser mic is more sensitive and has a faster reaction to percussive sounds than a Dynamic mic and produces a more even response.
CONDUIT Metal or plastic pipe used to carry electrical conductors as part of a permanent electrical installation. Also used to add weight to the bottom of a flown cloth.


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