Theatre Terms | Page 2 | 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
ESTA Entertainment Services and Technology Association
ESTABLISH In playwriting or production, to make clear to an audience such matters as locale, character, etc. Thus, "The playwright establishes within the first few moments that this is pre-Nazi Germany, mostly by the references to the Weimar Republic and its inflationary terrors."
EXEUNT Archaic term, meaning the exit of more than one character at the same time.
EXIT 1) Leaving the stage, to go offstage. Thus, "exit speech" and "make an exit." 2) A door or other opening through which an actor can leave the stage.
EXIT LINE A line of dialogue spoken by an actor just before, or just as, he/she leaves the stage.
EXPANDER A piece of sound processing equipment that reduces background noise by muting a sound signal when it falls below a certain level, restoring it when the level increases again. Must be used on vocal microphones with care, because it may cut the signal off, although the vocalist is still singing quietly.
EXPOSITION An explanation, normally in the dialogue, of events preceding the beginning of a dramatic piece, and which the audience needs to know. Also, any plot-related information that is provided to help the audience understand actions that take place offstage.
EXPOSITORY SCENE A scene whose chief purpose is to provide exposition.
EXPRESSIONISM A theatrical method that emphasizes the inner emotional significance of a play rather than the mere exterior quality. The means to do this are unusual, from heavy symbolism to speeding up (or slowing down) the action, abstract sets and costumes, etc. The high point of expressionism was 1910-1925, and most practiced in Germany, although it can be found in American plays as well.
EXTEMPORANEOUS Impromptu, unrehearsed, unscripted. Thus, extemporize, extempore (from the Latin, meaning "out of the moment."
EXTERIOR A scene set out of doors, usually referring to a flat or backdrop representing such a scene.
EXTRAVAGANZA A light entertainment with music, an improbable plot (in the 19th century, usually a fairy tale), and a spectacular presentation, with colorful costumes, a large cast. Later, any spectacular presentation.


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