Theatre Terms | Page 48 | 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.

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Term Definition Link
STAGE MANAGER The Head of the stage management team comprising the deputy stage manager (DSM) and assistant stage manager (ASM). The DSM is normally "on the book" calling the cues from the prompt corner. The ASM supervises props. Depending on the needs of the production, there may be a team of stagehands, usually casual employees.
STAGE RIGHT Actor's right when facing the audience.
STAGE SCREW A large screw which is screwed through the "foot" of a stage brace to secure it to a strong wooden floor. Only suitable for use in theatres with non-precious wooden floors.
STAGECRAFT or STAGE CRAFT Skill in--or the art of--producing or participating in the production of a dramatic piece, especially in the technical area.
STANISLAVSKI or STANISLAVSKY Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski (1863- 1938) created a performance technique that had an enormous effect on contemporary American acting, and he developed a system of actor training that became widely accepted throughout the world. Stanislavsky decided that a technique was needed that would guide the actor and create a "favorable condition for the appearance of inspiration." His system does not consist of a fixed set of rules but of practical approaches to the physical and mental preparation of the actor and to the creation of a character.
STATE In lighting terms, a lighting "picture" ; each lighting cue results in a different state (or a modified state).
STEAL or STEAL FOCUS An actor's seizure of the attention of the audience when he has no right to it, as by unfairly moving upstage center so that he commands the best position, forcing other actors to turn their backs to the audience
STEP A control on some lighting effects boards which enables the operator to "step" through a chase effect in time to music, etc.
STEP ON THE LAUGHS To proceed to another line too soon after a joke or punch line, cutting short an expected laugh.
STOCK COMPANY An acting company whose members play all the roles in a series of plays, as opposed to casting each play separately.
STOCK RIGHTS Royalty paid for a play used by a stock company.
STOCK SCENERY A variety of scenic units that a theatre has available in storage and can be used and reused for productions.
STRIKE To take down a set after a production has closed. The use of the word "strike" in the theatrical sense of taking down scenery was recorded more than one hundred years ago--although builders had used the word as early as the 17th century to mean "remove" and sailors to mean "lower" (a mast or sail) in the 14th century. Today, it is usual to strike a set directly after the final performance, and there is good reason for doing so--a full complement of workers, both cast and crew.
STROBE Short for stroboscope. A device giving a fast series of very short intense light flashes which can have the effect of making action appear intermittent. Because strobe lighting can trigger an epileptic attack in sufferers, the use of a strobe must be communicated to the audience before the performance begins. Regulations exist governing the maximum length of time for which a strobe can be used.
SWAG A particularly artistic way of drawing a set of tabs (drapes) diagonally up at the same time as flying them out.
SWING (1) A member of the company of a musical or play who understudies one of the leads and is also in the chorus, but doesn't have a character name in the chorus. (2) An off-stage performer responsible for covering any number of ensemble tracks.
TAB 1) Originally a "tableaux curtain" which drew outwards and upwards, but now generally applied to any stage curtains including a vertically flying front curtain (house tabs) and especially a pair of horizontally moving curtains which overlap at the center and move outwards from that center. 2) Short for tabloid, referring to a condensed version of a show.
TAB DRESSING Lighting focused onto the house tabs.


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