Theatre Terms | Page 14 | 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
CONFIDANT or CONFIDANTE The role of a close friend of a principal character, used dramatically for purposes of exposition, characterization, or development of dramatic action. The lead character can thus express ideas, explain feelings, or outline plans of action in a very natural way.
CONTACT MIC A microphone that directly picks up the sound transmitted by a solid material.
CONTRACT To secure the rights to perform a work, a theatre company must sign a binding legal document in which your company agrees to all stipulations therein. When you sign the contract and it is approved, you will be granted a license to perform the play. Read the contract carefully before signing, since it sets forth the number of performances, the performance venue, cost of tickets, and production dates that you provided the playwright's representative. When you are granted a performance license, by law the show you license must be performed "as is." Otherwise, any changes violate the authors' rights under federal copyright law. (See below) If you offer more than the contracted number of performances, or charge more than the contract says, or if your theater holds more people than you stated in your application, you are liable to legal action.
CONTRAST Diversity, variation, used to heighten interest, as in dramatic construction, acting, lighting, set design.
CONTRIVED Said of a character, and ending, etc., which is arranged by a dramatist, perhaps artfully, without concerns for plausibility.
CONVENTION 1) A method or style of production that acknowledges the artificiality of the stage, rather than reproduce the conditions of actual life outside the theatre. 2) Short for Stage Convention (which see).
CONVERSATION PIECE A play that emphasizes dialogue rather than action or movement.
COOL COLOR Generally, a color that is in the blue/green/purple range, as opposed to a warm (yellow/orange/red).
COPYRIGHT A legal privilege enabling the owner of a dramatic piece to control its performance and publication during a fixed period of time. Also to register work for copyright. Playwrights protect their ownership of their work by copyrighting it. This allows them or their representatives to decide who may perform the show, where it may be performed, how it may be performed, and how much will be charged for licensing the work. Copyright also allows the author to demand that you present the play as written, with no changes, unless granted by the playwright or representative. Without prior permission your actions will subject you to legal action for breaching the terms of your license. If you feel you must experiment with re-conceiving a show, there are many already in the public domain (Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, Oscar Wilde) that are no longer protected by copyright. Note the spelling with "right," not "write." The word "copyright" literally means owning the rights to making a copy.
Copywrite Incorrect spelling for copyright (which see).
CORNER PLATE A triangle of plywood used to strengthen the corners of a flat.
COSTUME DRAMA A dramatic piece that requires clothing not now current, and especially of a much earlier period.
COSTUME FITTING The trying on of a costume for fit and appearance, in the presence of a costumer.
COSTUME PARADE Cast members appear in costume, on stage and under state lighting, so that the costume designer and costume assistants can see how they look. At the same time, the director and lighting designer usually are present for their input as well.
COSTUME PLOT A list of characters, showing the costumes to be worn in a production, scene by scene.
COSTUMER Usually the costume designer, but sometimes the designer's chief assistant.
COUNT THE HOUSE 1) Determine the number of seats sold. 2) To stare at the audience while acting.
COUNTER In acting, to maintain the balance of the stage picture by moving across the stage in a direction opposite to that in which another actor has moved or is moving. For example, if two actors are standing stage left and a third joins them, one of the original two may cross in the other direction. This is, of course, if it also fits the sense of the scene.


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