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All things theatre dictionary

A

AD

Can refer to Artistic Director or Assistant Director

Ad Lib

From Latin phrase 'Ad libitum' which translates to 'at one's pleasure'. For an Actor to speak and move in character without direction or following the script. Often used if a mistake is made and the actor improvises to get back to the script

Agent

Someone who acts on behalf of Performers to help find them work

Am Dram

Amateur dramatics, non-professional theatre

Apron

The front of the stage that juts out in front of the proscenium arch

Artistic Director

Someone who oversees the artistic programme of the theatre as well as managing funding, budgets and staff

ASM

Assistant Stage Manager

Audition

A type of interview for a Performer to showcase their talents and check their suitability for a role

B

Beginners

The call given to Actors five minutes before the start of the performance to ensure they are in position

Blocking

The instructions of where the Actors need to stand or move

Broadway

The American equivalent of the West End, located in Manhattan, New York. A central area for performances such as plays and musicals

C

Call times

The time in which you must arrive for your rehearsals or for the show

Cans

The communication system between departments, usually through a headset

Centre stage

The middle of the stage

Choreography

A sequence of steps and movements for staged dances and performances

Colour-blind casting

Casting an Actor for their ability over what their appearance is. Often used for characters where race, gender or ethnicity is not mentioned in the play.

Conservatoire

A drama school or performing arts training institution with conservatoire status, meaning training is particularly intensive

CSM

Company Stage Manager

Cues

A trigger for for an action to happen

Curtain call

The end of the show, usually when the actors take their bows

D

Dark

When a theatre is not currently being used for performances

Downstage

The front of the stage, nearest the auditorium

Drama school

A school which specialises in teaching about performance and theatre

Dress run

A rehearsal in costume where the full production is performed

DSM

Deputy Stage Manager

Duologue

A part of a play with speaking roles for only two Actors

E

Ed Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. It takes place every August, with a large number of performances at different venues across the city.

End on

When the audience is on one side of the stage

Ensemble

A group of Actors who play background roles and appear in multiple scenes, can also be used to refer to an entire theatre company

Equity

A union for people working in the performing arts, including actors

F

Flys

The rigging system made up of ropes and pulleys that enables stage crew to quickly move large pieces of scenery

Fourth wall

A metaphor for the invisible and imaginary 'wall' between the Actors on stage and the audience

Fringe theatre

Theatre that is experimental in style or subject matter. The term comes from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Fringe are small-scale theatres often located above pubs, and are the equivalent of New York's Off-Off-Broadway Theatres and Europe's 'free theatre' groups

G

Get in

Fitting of the set in the theatre

Get out

Taking down and removing the set from the theatre

Going dark

Warning called when the lights are about to be turned off

H

Half

The call given to Actors half an hour before they are to be called to start the performance. This is given at 35 minutes before the start of the show.

Headshot

Professional photograph of yourself which you hand out at auditions and to Agents

House

The auditorium

House lights

The lights in the auditorium

I

Improv

Short hand for improvisation where an Actor comes up with lines on the spot, unrehearsed.

In the round

When the audience sit on every side of the stage

Iron

Safety curtain used to separate the stage from the audience in case of a fire.

L

LX

The lighting department

M

Matinee

Afternoon performance of a show

Monologue

A speech by only one Actor

Multi-role

An Actor who plays more than one character in a play

N

NT Live

An initiative created by the National Theatre where they broadcast their productions live via satellite to cinemas and arts centres around the world

P

Press night

Launch night of a production which invites members of the press to review the production for their publication e.g The Stage

Preview

A set of performances for the public before its official opening. They are used by directors to highlight any problems and correct them before opening/press night when critics review the production

Prompt

Someone who tells Actors their lines if they forget them, or the act of telling actors their lines if they have forgotten them

R

R&D

Research and development - often used to explore a new idea/concept

Repertory

A system of theatre where one group of Actors appear in multiple productions at the same time. Often shortened to just Rep

Revival

A re-staging of a production after its original run has closed

RSC

The Royal Shakespeare Company. A theatre company who perform the works of Shakespeare and writers of today. Their main home is in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace.

S

Script

Text of a play

Shakespeare

William Shakespeare. English Poet, Playwright and Actor. Regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest Dramatist

Showcase

A performance for Performers to showcase their talent to industry professionals in a hope of gaining work and or agent

Sitzprobe

Used in musical theatre and opera - first rehearsal between the singers and the orchestra

SM

Stage Manager

SOLT

Society of London Theatre is the trade organisation representing West End theatres and other major London theatres

Spotlight

A casting notices website

Stage left

Left hand side of the stage in accordance to those on the stage facing the audience (if you are standing on the stage looking out to the auditorium, this will be on your left)

Stage right

Right hand side of the stage in accordance to those on the stage facing the audience (if you are standing on the stage looking out to the auditorium, this will be on your right)

Stagger-through

First run of the show in order of events

Strike

To remove the set from the stage

SX

Short hand for sound

T

Tech Run

A rehearsal to practice the technical elements of the performance

The Stage

The world's oldest and best theatre publication, offering theatre news from London's West End and across the UK, including news, jobs and interviews. Visit thestage.co.uk

Thrust

A type of staging which includes the stage extending past the proscenium arch into the auditorium. The thrust will have audience sit on three sides of the stage

Top and tail

Running through the play in sections where the cues need to be practised, such as a lighting or sound change. The Actors will only say the lines at the beginning and end of each section for the cues

Traverse

Type of staging where the audience sit on either side of the stage, facing each other

U

UK Theatre

UK's leading theatre and performing arts membership organisation. They promote excellence, professional development and campaign to improve resilience and increase audiences across the sector

Upstage

The back of the stage, nearest the backdrop

W

Wardrobe

A department within a production or theatre where all costumes and props are made, kept and maintained

West End

The main commercial and subsidised theatres in London, including its oldest and most prestigious venues. The British version of Broadway.

Wings

The sides of the stage (offstage)

V

Verbatim

A form of documented theatre in which plays are constructed from the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a particular event or topic

Video Reel

Often referred to as a Showreel, it is a short edited video which showcases an individual's previous work in video

Voice Reel

A short edited video which showcases an individual's previous voice work on video

 

Photo: Arts Educational Schools, London