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Theater Vocabulary

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					Theater Vocabulary
Ad-lib: to create dialogue or movement off the top of your head, without a script. Aesthetics: of or pertaining to the criticism of taste and a sense of the beautiful. Use of design principles and elements such as form, line, unity, variety and emphasis to create a pleasing work of art. Antagonist: main character who opposes the protagonist. Apron: the stage floor between the footlights and the curtain. Arena Theater: staging with the audience sitting on all four sides of the playing area. Articulation: the clear and precise pronunciation of words. Aside: words spoken by a character to the audience. The other characters supposedly do not hear the speech. Backdrop: painted curtain without folds, hung from battens. Backstage: area behind scenery not visible to the audience. Base: foundation color used for stage make-up. Batten: horizontal pipe suspended over the stage, from which scenery, lights and curtains are hung. Blackout: all stage lights go off simultaneously. Blocking: director’s planned movement for the characters. Break character: when the actor loses concentration while performing and is not in character. Business: detailed bits of action such as knitting, setting the table, etc., as distinguished from broad stage movement. Callback: an invitation to an actor to return for a second audition. Cheat: to play toward the audience while seemingly conversing with the others on stage Color-blind casting: casting without regard to race or ethnicity of the characters or actors. Cold reading: auditioning with a script that you have not had the opportunity to read before the audition. Countercross: a small movement in the opposite direction to the cross made by another actor. Cover: to hide an unplanned instance on stage from the audience. Critique: evaluations and suggestions. Cross: an actor’s move from one part of the stage to another. Cue: 1)last words or action of one actor that immediately precede another actor’s speech. 2)a signal for light changes, curtains, etc. Cut: 1) delete. 2)a command to stop action and dialogue. Cyclorama (cyc): a sky drop that surrounds the back and sides of the stage. Dark: the days/nights during the run of a show when a performance is not scheduled. Dimmers: unit to control intensity of lights. Dress the stage: 1)keep the stage picture balanced. 2)decorations used to provide authenticity to the set and fill space. Dry-tech: run through of all technical aspects of the show, without the actors.

Exit: direction for an actor to leave the stage. Opposite of ”enter”. Flat: usually canvas covered wooden frame used for scenery Flexible theater: seats can be arranged for proscenium, arena or thrust staging. Flies: area above stage where scenery is hung or stored by lines from the grid. Floodlights: lights without lenses; used for blending and toning. Fly rail: bar to which rigging ropes are tied. Focus: 1) center attention on. 2) center light beam on. Forth wall: imaginary wall between stage and audience. Fresnel: spot light with a fresnel lens that throws an efficient and soft beam; hung from the teaser batten to light upstage areas. Gelatin (gel): transparent colored medium used in front of stage lights. Gesture: movement of separate parts of the body, such as waving an arm or shrugging a shoulder. Give: throw focus on the important character in a scene. Greenroom: actor’s lounge backstage. Grip (techie): stage crew member who shifts scenery. Handprops: properties carried on stage by the actors during the play. Holding for laughs: waiting for the audience laughter to diminish before continuing dialogue. House: seating within the auditorium. House lights: auditorium lights used before and after the play and during intermission. Levels: platforms or body position of various heights. Mask: to cover something from audience view. Motivate: to have a specific reason for saying or doing something; to show character’s desires through voice and movement. Open-up: to play toward the audience. Pantomime (mime): bodily movement and expression without dialogue. Pick up cues: to quickly begin a speech without allowing a pause between the first words of the speech and the cue. Pit (orchestra pit): area between the stage and first row of seats. Places: warning for actors to assume their position on stage for the beginning of the scene Plot: 1) sequence of events in a play. 2) production plan of backstage items, such as a light plot or costume plot. Project: increase voice or actions so they will carry to the audience (and room 104-ha,ha) Prompt book: contains script, blocking notations, warnings, crew charts, and other information necessary for producing the play. Properties (props): set furnishings, including furniture, pictures, ornaments, drapes, etc. Proscenium: permanent framed opening through which the audience sees the play. Protagonist: main character with whom audience empathy lies. Quick study: one who can memorize a part rapidly. Raked house: slanted floor, allowing each row of the audience to see over the heads of those in front. Royalty: money paid to the author for permission to stage his/her play. Run: length of stage engagement for a performance.

Run through: rehearse scene without interruption. Scoop: a floodlight with an ellipsoidal reflector; can be hung from battens. Scrim: loose weave curtain on battens used for “visions”, “flashbacks”, etc. opaque when lit from the front and transparent when lit from the back. Script: printed or typewritten copy of the play. Set: 1) scenery. 2)establish definite movements and lines. Set piece: three-dimensional scenery piece which stands by itself, such as a rock. Share: to assume a position of equal dramatic importance with another actor. Shift: change scenery. Soliloquy: long speech given by a character when they are alone on stage to chow their thoughts or to explain the plot; used frequently by Shakespeare. Spotlight: lights with beams that can be focused and that are used for specific illumination. Stage directions: indications to the director and actors about various aspects of the play, including information on characters, how a play should proceed, how a play should look, and the mood or effects of a play. Stage manager: the director’s technical liaison backstage during rehearsals and performances. Stealing the scene: taking audience attention away from the proper focal point. Also called “upstaging”. Strike: take down set and props after the show’s final performance. Subtext: Thoughts the actor has that are unspoken, but motivate what they say and do. Take stage: to capture audience attention legitimate, as opposed to “give,” or “share”. Teaser: overhead curtain to mask the first border of lights and to regulate the height of the proscenium opening. Theme: basic idea of the play that gives unity to all elements. Thrust stage: a combination of the proscenium and the arena stages, with the audience sitting on two or three sides of the acting area. Timing: to give lines and movement at the exact, effective moment. Topping: to exceed the tempo and pitch of the previous speech. Trap: opening in the stage floor that permits the actors to enter from beneath the floor or to exit beneath it. Tryouts: auditions for parts in a play. Understudy: actor who is able to play a given role in an emergency. Walk on: a part where the actor walks on and off the stage without having any line to say Wings: off stage to right and left of the acting area. Work lights: white lights used solely for rehearsal. In some theaters the strip lights are used in place of the work lights. Upstage Right Stage Right Downstage Right Up Center Center Stage Downstage Center Upstage Left Stage Left Down Left


				
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