Theatre Terms

image of question markHere you'll find over 1000 definitions of theatrical terms, from Aside, Beam Angle, and Camlock, to Upstaging, VU Meter, and Wagon.  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 Cross Reference Link
BURNT CORK A makeup material used for blackening the skin. Minstrel show
HAM Someone who overacts or acts badly on stage. From "hamfatter," said to derive from a derisive term for a minstrel performer. Supposedly, the connection was that blackface was a blend of pork fat and burnt cork, and related to the fact that an old minstrel song was "The Ham-Fat Man." Minstrel Show
MINSTREL 1) A musical entertainer in a dramatic performance, particularly in medieval and Renaissance performance. 2) A performer in a minstrel show. Minstrel Show
MINSTREL SHOW A kind of comic stage entertainment popular in the U.S. from the middle of the 19th century into the close of the 1920s, typically consisting of dialogue, songs, and dance in a set pattern, imitating African American manners and speech, performed usually by white actors in blackface. The cast included an interlocutor, as master of ceremonies and straight man; two end men as comedians; and a chorus seated in a semicircle. Minstrel Show
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