Theatre Terms | Page 6 | 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
BAFFLE 1) A sheet of material used to prevent a spill of light in a instrument or in part of a set. 2) A panel in a loudspeaker cabinet or a board or sheet of other material used in sound equipment to limit echo or sound spill. 3) A panel in an auditorium positioned so as to reduce sound reflections and improve the acoustics of the space.
BALANCE The equalization of the stage picture, composition, and action, so that the position and movements of the actors, the design of the set, lighting and costumes all are in a well-proportioned relationship.
BALCONY A seating area above the orchestra section of the auditorium. Sometimes a part of this area, particularly in front, is the location for equipment, hence the term "balcony lighting."
BALCONY FRONT The vertical front face of a balcony to which is fastened lighting equipment.
BALCONY STAGE In Elizabethan theatre, an area of the balcony used for a playing area.
BALLAD A song, usually, simple, sentimental, short, and narrative, used in musical comedy.
BALLAD OPERA A light satirical comedy, consisting of dialogue in verse or prose, plus songs set to popular and folk tunes. 18th and early 19th centuries. "The Beggar's Opera" is the best-known example.
BALLAST An electrical apparatus that limits the electrical current in a particular circuit, usually a circuit containing an arc source. An "arc" is light caused by an electrical discharge between two electrodes in a gas such as xenon, argon, or air.
BALLYHOO Moving a followspot beam around in a figure-eight pattern.
BANK A group of lighting units or dimmers arranged in rows.
BARN DOORS An apparatus with adjustable flaps, usually 2, 4 or 8, that attaches to the front of a lighting instrument. It is used to block or shape the beam--for example, to keep light from hitting the front or side edge of the stage.
BASIC SITUATION The central dramatic situation in a play.
BASS Lower end of the musical scale. In acoustics, the range (below about 200Hz) in which there are difficulties, principally in the reproduction of sound, due to the large wavelengths involved.
BATTEN A narrow strip of wood used to make or reinforce the frame of a flat, to fasten flats together, to stiffen a drop, to suspend a hanging piece of scenery or equipment. A length of metal pipe is sometimes used for the latter purpose, called a batten or pipe batten.
BEAM Light rays, particularly the width of light projected by a lighting instrument.
BEAM ANGLE The angle of the cone of light produced by a instrument. Defined as the angle within which the lowest intensity in a beam of light from a instrument is not less than one-tenth of the maximum.
BEAM PROJECTOR Flood instrument which uses a parabolic reflector and a low voltage high intensity lamp to produce an intense near-parallel beam. Also known as a Beamlight.
BEDROOM FARCE A farce in which a risque bedroom scene is exploited.
BELOW 1) Downstage. 2) Under the stage.


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