Theatre Terms | Page 3 | 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)

NOTE: After using the ABC search function below, click here to reset.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X
Term Definition Link
AMATEUR 1) A theater company whose participants (particularly actors) work without salary. 2) A person who acts without pay; sometimes used in ridicule to mean "not of high caliber." In actuality, the term comes from the Latin root meaning "to love," in this case, to do something for the love of it rather than for profit.
AMATEUR RIGHTS Permission from the playwright (via the representative or publisher) to produce the play by a theater company whose participants (particularly actors) work without salary. Unlike professional royalties, which demand a percentage of the gross, amateur royalties are finalized up front. In some cases a flat royalty is charged (for example, $50 for the first performance, $40 for each successive performance). In many cases, however, the fee is based on theater seating capacity, average ticket price, and the number of performances.
AMP 1) AMPERE, the standard unit for measurement of electrical current passing through a circuit. Cables, fuses and switches are designated by their current carrying capacity. Square pin plugs are rated at 13 Amps maximum and Round pin plugs at either 5 Amps or 15 Amps maximum, depending on the size of the pins. If a cable rated at 5 Amps is used with a load of 15 Amps, the cable will overheat and possibly catch fire. 2) AMPLIFIER - sound equipment that converts the low voltage, low current signal from a tape deck, mixer etc. into a higher current signal suitable for driving speakers. See Power Amplifier, Crossover.
AMPHITEATRE An auditorium, outdoors or indoors, circular, semicircular, or elliptical in shape, in which a central arena is more or less surrounded by rising banks of seats.
AMPLITUDE The strength of a vibrating wave ; in sound, the loudness of the sound.
ANALOG SIGNAL A continuously variable signal that can have any value over a given range. For example, an analog voltage within the range 0 to 10 Volts can have values of 0, 2, 8.785 or any value between. Most dimmers require an analog voltage in order to operate (from 0 to -10V or 0 to +10V depending on the manufacturer). Most lighting control desks produce a digital multiplexed output, which is converted by a demux box to an analog signal for the dimmer. See also Digital Dimmer.
ANGEL A person who invests in a prospective production.
ANSI CODE ANSI is an abbreviation for American National Standards Institute. ANSI Code refers to a three-letter system that has been devised to describe lamps of different manufacture but the same application. The letters have no relationship to lamp description, but the same letters always designate the same type of lamp. Some of the application parameters they define include wattage, base type, envelope size, and light center length.
ANTAGONIST A principal role, opposed to that of the protagonist or hero.
ANTICLIMAX or ANTI-CLIMAX A point in a dramatic piece, after the climax, which may emphasize the meaning of the climax by some lesser tension, or may merely lessen the effect of the climax, sometimes to absurdity.
APPEAR To act, as in to appear in a play or a part. Hence, appearance.
APPLICATION A copyrighted work cannot be produced legally until you receive written permission from the author's representative. An application for rights typically includes: name and address of the producing organization; phone and fax numbers; name of show; dates of desired performance(s); number of performances; name of theater/auditorium; seating capacity of theater/auditorium; and ticket prices. The processing time for an application can vary from two days to two weeks or more. If the title is available for the dates indicated on the application, fees are quoted and a license is generated.
APPRENCTICE A person who serves without pay in an acting company in order to learn about acting or other aspects of theatrical work.
APRON Section of the stage floor which projects towards or into the auditorium. In proscenium theatres, the part of the stage in front of the house tabs, or in front of the proscenium arch.
ARBOR Metal frame in which counterweights are carried in a flying system. Also called a cradle.
ARC 1) An "arc" is light caused by an electrical discharge between two electrodes in a gas such as xenon, argon, or air. 2) Short for carbon arc spotlight, hence arc-lighting. Obsolete.
ARCH 1) An opening in a piece of scenery, representing an arch or a space of some other shape intended to remain empty or to be filled with a door, window, or the like. 2) A flat in the form of an arch. 3) Shaped like an arch.
ARCHITECTURAL LAMP A type of linear filament lamp with contacts at 90 degrees to the filament which can give the appearance of a continuous line of light (similar to neon, but dimmable).
ARCLINE (Trade Name) A colored plastic tube containing a number of small strobe units which, when triggered, flash in sequence down the tube. Many tubes can be connected together.


  • Facebook
  • AACT on Instagram
  • AACT on LinkedIn
Authorize.Net Merchant - Click to Verify Credit Card Merchant Services