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
NATURALISM Realism; attempting to depict life and society as it is. Usually used to describe a play in its entirety, but also the individual work of a director or actor. Thus, a naturalistic performance.
NEON 1) A type of discharge lighting generated by a high voltage across two electrodes at opposite ends of a long, thin glass tube filled with neon gas. Different colors can be obtained by mixing other gases, or by using fluorescent coatings. Mostly used for advertising signs - the glass tube is bent to form letters. 2) A small mains voltage indicator lamp.
NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTER Lighting filter that reduces the brightness of a light source without changing its color.
NOISES OFF Offstage sound effects, such as thunder, breaking glass, a crash, voices, etc.
NON DIMS Channels, usually controlled from the lighting desk which are switched, rather than dimmed. This enables motors, slide projectors, smoke machines etc to be controlled from the lighting desk.
NONPROFESSIONAL or NON-PROFESSIONAL Said of a theatre or production, as opposed to professional, to avoid the derogatory connotation sometimes understood by the term "amateur." In recent decades, however, "nonprofessional" has taken on the same derogatory connotation, sometimes used to mean "not of high quality."
NUMBER A song or dance in a musical production, so called because each musical selection is numbered for the convenience of the orchestra.
NUT The actual or estimated cost of producing a show, often figured on a weekly basis.
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