Theatre Terms | Page 4 | 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
ARE YOU DECENT? "Are you dressed to receive visitors?" Query made at a dressing room door before entering.
ARENA Form of stage where the audience is seated on at least two (normally three, or all four) sides of the whole acting area.
ARRANGE To adapt a score for orchestral use.
ARRAS 1) A drape curtain loosely suspended across a stage. 2) A curtain or tapestry used to screen a door, or serving as a wall hanging.
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE A person from the professional theatre, employed for a specified period to train others (usually university students) in acting or other theatre arts.
ASBESTOS CURTAIN Now obsolete. The fire or fireproof or safety curtain.
ASIDE A speech or monologue, usually fairly short, to convey a character's thoughts or other information to the audience, while in the presence of other characters, some or all of whom are supposed not to overhear. A stage convention and frequently a stage direction. Often used in melodrama.
ASM Assistant Stage Manager
AT LIBERTY Having no current acting engagement, out of work, available for casting.
AT RISE At the moment when the rising curtain first discloses a scene.
ATMOSPHERE 1) The mood, the general emotional quality, of all or part of a dramatic piece or of its representation. Hence (of lighting, scenery, etc., created to establish a mood) atmospheric, atmospheric lighting, etc. 2) The normal background sound at any location.
ATTENUATE To reduce the intensity of a sound signal.
AUDITION 1) A try-out hearing, usually competitive, of an actor or other performers seeking employment or to be cast in a play. Hence, to audition for, to be auditioned. 2) A reading aloud of a dramatic work to prospective investors.
AUDITORIUM The part of the theatre accommodating the audience during the performance. Sometimes known as the "house."
AUTOCAD The term given to the industry-standard CAD (Computer Assisted Design) software program for architects and designers. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) contains a cut-down version of Autocad, along with visualisation tools.
AUTOMATED LIGHT A lighting instrument in which certain functions such as panning, tilting, focusing, dimming, beam shaping and coloring, etc., are motorized and remotely operated from a control console. Sometimes called an "intelligent light."
AUTOMATION 1) Facility available on larger sound mixing desks allowing channel muting or even fader moves to be taken under the control of a computer to ensure accurate and repeatable mixing. 2) Describes the method used instead of stage crew for moving bits of set around shows with a big budget.
AUXILIARY INPUT A route back into the sound desk for a signal sent to a piece of outboard equipment via an auxiliary send.
AUXILIARY OUTPUT An additional output from a sound desk which can be used for foldback or monitoring without tying up the main outputs. Each input channel will have a path to the Aux buss. Also used for feeding a signal to an effects processor. Also known as "Return."
AVANT GARDE Any fresh leadership in theatrical production, but more especially a realistic movement toward greater freedom in expression. Daring, unusual. From the French expression meaning "advanced guard" or "vanguard."


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