Theatre Terms | Page 10 | 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
CALL 1) A notification of a working session, such as a rehearsal call. 2) The period of time to which the above call refers--for example, "Your call for tomorrow night's show is 7:00 p.m." 3) A stage manager's announcement to summon actors to the stage. A request for an actor to come to the stage because an entrance is imminent is a courtesy call and should not be relied on by actors - e.g. "This is your call for the finale Mr. Smith and Miss Jones") 4) An acknowledgement of applause (e.g. Curtain Call) 5) A technical staff person with the script (book) is said to be "calling the cues," especially in terms of stage lighting cues.
CAMEO ROLE A minor role with particularly attractive acting possibilities.
CAMLOCK (Trade Name) Single pole connector used on professional power distribution & dimming systems. A separate connector is used for each phase/neutral of the supply. Originally developed for touring concerts, as power demands increase it's finding more use in theatres.
CANTILEVERED STRUCTURE A concealed support behind an overhanging scenic piece onstage, such as a balcony.
CANVAS Sturdy material, usually heavy cotton, used to cover flats as a less heavy (and less expensive) alternative to plywood.
CAPACITY The total number of seats available for the audience, as in seating capacity.
CARDIOD A cardioid microphone exhibits an acoustic pickup pattern that, when graphed in two dimensions, resembles a cardioid shape.
CARPET HOIST In the counterweight system of stage rigging, a way of separately counterbalancing a scenic piece, or a property such as a carpet, so that it can be lowered and detached from its lines for use during a performance without the removal of the weights.
CARRY 1) To act so that the audience can see and hear clearly. "His voice carries to be back row." 2) To be the acting mainstay of a production, as in "The supporting actors are fine, but Cyrano really carries the show."
CAST LIST A list of actors with their roles.
CASTING The process of the director choosing actors to perform the characters in the play.
CASTING AGENT A person who engages to find actors for a production.
CASTING DIRECTOR A casting agent in charge of subordinate casting agents.
CASTING OFFICE A company that makes available suitable actors for a producer.
CASUALS Mostly British: Part-time temporary technicians (paid by the hour).
CAT CALL or CATCALL A noise, originally one like the cry of a cat, uttered or produced by an instrument, to show disapproval. Now generic to any sound of disapproval, usually from an audience.
CATHARSIS A Greek term for the emotional release (literally purgation or purification) in a spectator of a staged tragedy. Aristotle believed that tragedies were healthy outlets for emotion, and thus a deeply moving experience is often called "cathartic."
CATWALK An access walkway to equipment. Unlike a bridge, not necessarily across a void.
CEILING A flat, in one piece, or hinged in two or more pieces, or a cloth or drape, hung horizontally to form the top of an interior set, concealing the flies.


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