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.

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Term Definition Link
F.B.O or FBO Abbreviation for Fade to blackout (or fade to black).
FABULOUS INVALID The theatre, always amazingly vital despite its chronic financial and artistic setbacks.
FADE An increase, diminishment or change in lighting or sound level.
FADE IN To increase the illumination of the stage gradually through the use of dimmers.
FADE OUT or FADEOUT To decrease the illumination of the stage gradually through the use of dimmers, until the stage is totally dark. Also a noun: fadeout.
FADER Vertical slider which is used to remotely set the level of a lighting or sound channel.
FAKE (verb) 1) To ad lib, as in "to fake it." 2)To omit lines or business, or to execute business than it would take in real life.
FALSE PROSCENIUM A frame formed by scenic canvas or vertical flattage within the proscenium arch. Used to reduce the size of the opening when putting a small set onto a large stage.
FALSE STAGE Special stage floor laid for a production. For example to allow trucks guided by tracks cut into this false floor, to be moved by steel wires running in the shallow (2 or 3 inch) void between the false floor and the original stage floor. A false stage is also required for putting a revolve onto a stage.
FARCE A broadly comic dramatic work based on ludicrously improbable events, unsubtle in idea or characterization. Farce is typically fast and funny, with a great deal of action. By its very nature, farce commands an intense outpouring of energy, impeccable timing and a total immersion of the actor into his role
FAT A role, lines, or business offering an actor the opportunity to shine, or show what he/she can do. Thus, "a fat part."
FEE A royalty fee is charged per performance, with the amount depending on whether the producing company is professional or amateur. (See Amateur Rights, Professional Rights.) Some representatives charge a straight fee, with no distinction as to the number of seats or performances. Others charge one fee for the first performance and a lesser amount for each successive performance. Still others charge a fee based on the number of seats in the house, ticket price, number of performance, and company status (professional or amateur). There are three basic fees in licensing a musical: A royalty fee (per performance); a rental fee; and a refundable security deposit.
FEED 1) A power supply to a piece of equipment or installation is termed a "feed". Sound equipment and sensitive computer equipment should have a clean feed - that is, a supply that is free from interference from other equipment. 2) To help another actor get full effect from significant speech or action through the one's own preparatory speech or action. Thus a "feed line."
FEEDBACK A sharp whistle or rumble heard emanating from a sound system. It is caused by a sound being amplified many times. (e.g. a sound is picked up by a microphone and amplified through the speaker. The microphone picks up this amplified sound and it is sent through the system again). Feedback can be avoided by careful microphone positioning, and can be reduced by use of Equalization to reduce the level of the frequency band causing the feedback. Also known as "howl."
FIBER OPTIC A method of directing light down a very thin glass fiber. Fiber Optics are used mostly in communication, but find theatre applications in star cloths which are black backcloths with the ends of optical fibers poked through, to create a mass of pin pricks of light. A large bundle or harness of fibers may be fed from one light source, sometimes with a motorized color or flicker wheel.
FIBERGLASS A combination of a glass mat and a resin which can be formed into a strong shell. Used in prop-making.
FIELD Refers to the spread of light intensity across a beam. Most profile instruments have an adjustable field. A Flat field has an even distribution, a peak field has a "hot spot" in the center of the beam. A flat field is essential when using gobos.
FILL LIGHT Light that fills the shadows that key light creates.
FILTER 1) See Color. 2) Electronic device to isolate and redirect specific frequencies in a speaker system.
FINALE The last song, the closing ensemble of a musical production.


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