Theatre Terms

image of question markHere you'll find over 1000 definitions of theatrical terms, from Aside, Beam Angle, and Camlock, to Upstaging, VU Meter, and Wagon.  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 Cross Reference Link
ULTRA-VIOLET or ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT
UNDERSTUDY To learn the role of another actor so that if necessary one may take his place. Also, an actor who so prepares himself.
UNITY Completeness of a work of literature ("unities of form and time") The key qualities in the construction of a tragedy's plot, Aristotle said, are: it has a beginning, middle, and end (i.e., is complete); and it is of appropriate size to be "easily embraced in one view" or "easily embraced by the memory" [long enough to move a character "from calamity to good fortune, or from good fortune to calamity." For this reason, Aristotle says good plays resemble living organisms. (This idea has a rebirth in Romanticism's "organic form" theory.) An "episodic" plot is: one that moves from incident to incident without necessary or probable cause. In addition to unity of form and time, Aristotle also said a plot should be unified.
UP STAGE or UPSTAGE The part of the stage furthest from the audience.
UPSTAGE or UPSTAGING An actor's seizure of the attention of the audience when he has no right to it, as by unfairly moving upstage center so that he commands the best position, forcing other actors to turn their backs to the audience. Focus
USITT United States Institute for Theatre Technology
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