Theatre Terms | 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
C CLAMP Heavy metal clamp used for securing heavy items to a batten, pole, standard, etc. Requires a spanner/wrench to tighten.
CABARET A night club, restaurant, or the like, where performers dance and sing; the entertainment so provided. The audience is normally seated at small tables.
CABLE 1) Noun: Wiring, temporarily rigged, to carry electrical current. Depending on the size of the cable (current carrying capacity), cables are used to supply individual instruments, whole dimmer racks, or carry signals from a microphone etc. 2) Verb: As in "to cable," meaning to link two electrical elements with cabling.
CABLE GRIP A U-shaped clip and saddle used for terminating wire rope. Also known as a Bulldog, Dog Grip or Wire Rope Clip.
CABLE TIE Lockable (and sometimes releasable) plastic strap used to tie a bundle of cables together, among many other things.
CAD Computer-Aided Design. Using a computer to help with 2D plans and drawings, or increasingly for 3D visualization of how a set will look, and how lighting will affect it.
CALL 1) A notification of a working session, such as a rehearsal call. 2) The period of time to which the above call refers--for example, "Your call for tomorrow night's show is 7:00 p.m." 3) A stage manager's announcement to summon actors to the stage. A request for an actor to come to the stage because an entrance is imminent is a courtesy call and should not be relied on by actors - e.g. "This is your call for the finale Mr. Smith and Miss Jones") 4) An acknowledgement of applause (e.g. Curtain Call) 5) A technical staff person with the script (book) is said to be "calling the cues," especially in terms of stage lighting cues.
CAMEO ROLE A minor role with particularly attractive acting possibilities.
CAMLOCK (Trade Name) Single pole connector used on professional power distribution & dimming systems. A separate connector is used for each phase/neutral of the supply. Originally developed for touring concerts, as power demands increase it's finding more use in theatres.
CANTILEVERED STRUCTURE A concealed support behind an overhanging scenic piece onstage, such as a balcony.
CANVAS Sturdy material, usually heavy cotton, used to cover flats as a less heavy (and less expensive) alternative to plywood.
CAPACITY The total number of seats available for the audience, as in seating capacity.
CARDIOD A cardioid microphone exhibits an acoustic pickup pattern that, when graphed in two dimensions, resembles a cardioid shape.
CARPET HOIST In the counterweight system of stage rigging, a way of separately counterbalancing a scenic piece, or a property such as a carpet, so that it can be lowered and detached from its lines for use during a performance without the removal of the weights.
CARRY 1) To act so that the audience can see and hear clearly. "His voice carries to be back row." 2) To be the acting mainstay of a production, as in "The supporting actors are fine, but Cyrano really carries the show."
CAST LIST A list of actors with their roles.
CASTING The process of the director choosing actors to perform the characters in the play.
CASTING AGENT A person who engages to find actors for a production.


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