K.L.'s Theatre Production Terms

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z

If you have suggestions of terms that are missing from this glossary or for improvements to definitions that are already here, please feel free to drop me a line.
K.L. -- (KL_Storer@yahoo.com)
A
ACTING VERBS
(AKA: ACTION VERBS)
Verbs used as tools by actors during the script and character analysis process of developing their characters and their performances. Acting (or action) verbs are assigned to words in a line, parts of lines, beats, parts of scenes, whole scenes, perhaps even their characters' entire story archs, and help actors find or determine motivations, desires, agendas, goals, emotional or mental states, etc.

The director may be involved to one extent or the other in this process, and most certainly later might adjust whatever performances result from this work, sometimes just by tweaking, sometimes in great measure.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION
(AKA: ACTORS' EQUITY, EQUITY or AEA)
The labor union in the U.S.A. that represents live professional theatre performers and stage managers and negotiates overall theatrical contract agreements with producers and theatres mounting professional productions.

See www.actorsequity.org

Note: a specific actor's theatrical agent or manager may negotiate the wage, and perhaps other specifics, for that actor's participation in a theatre production, within the bounds of the general Equity contract agreements and stipulations.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
AD See ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
AEA See ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION
AMATUER THEATRE See NON-PROFESSIONAL THEATRE
ASIDES See SIDES
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
(AKA: AD)
In both professional and non-professional theatre the duties and responsibilities of the AD can vary widely, but, generally, in both professional and non-professional settings the AD will oversee some or many administrative items that might otherwise fall to the director, and will usually work closely with the SM and the producer(s). ADs in community theatre may take over some responsibilities usually under the stage manager's umbrella, such as recording of all stage directions the director gives each performer, the tracking of all line errors and the dissemination of line notes to the offending actors. In both professional and non-professional settings the AD may be to some extent in charge of blocking (directing the physical movement on stage); in some cases, especially if the director is "mentoring" the AD, he or she will have the opportunity to direct a scene or a portion of the play. Also, in all settings, the AD usually takes on all directorial duties in the absence of the director.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER
(AKA: ASM)
Assists the stage manager in performing stage management duties as assigned. Works back stage during theatrical performances, usually working as a stage crew member and may supervise other stage crew members. Often relays messages from the SM to cast and crew, including calls to "places" -- may sometimes be delegated to initiated the call to places based on instructions from the SM. Often the ASM helps manage props -- in professional theatres often doing so in cooperation with the property master. During the rehearsal period the ASM may be on book and may also have the task of taking and/or disseminating line notes. ASMs usually are involved with creating and/or disseminating call sheets and may do other administrative paper work and filing.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
AUDITION A trial event for performers (actors, singers, musicians, etc.) where they usually perform a practical demonstration of relative skills and talents in order to be chosen for participation in some sort of production, be it a stage play, a movie, television, or video production, a dance recital, a concert, or for membership in a theatre troupe, a dance troupe, or some sort of musical band or orchestra, or some other function or organization where the respective talents and abilities will be utilized. Most professional performance training programs hold auditions for slots, as well. Talent agencies may also audition perspective performers before agreeing to represent them.

Actors are typically required to give short performances. The performances may be from sides that the director or producers have provided before the audition appointment (sometimes required to be memorized, sometimes not), or prepared monologues they've been asked to bring in. Sometimes they are asked to do cold readings from the script, on the spot. Movie and TV productions often require screentests, though an in-person, live audition may also be required, especially as a callback audition. Singers usually are asked to bring in short excerpts of appropriate songs to perform (providing the sheet music for accompanists); sometimes they are sent specific songs to prepare for the audition. Sometimes they are asked to sight read a song. The process is similar for musicians.

Dancers and other performers have similar requirements, relative to their performance arts.

Any of these varied performers may also be given pieces or challenges during the audition to demonstrate the breadth of their ranges within their disciplines.

Beyond the screentests for screen actors, any performers, including stage actors, may be required, or allowed, to submit video recorded auditions, at least as their initial auditions. Voice actors virtually always submit audio recorded auditions first.

In some cases, an audition may be only an interview. In such cases it will typically be a situation where those conducting the audition are already familiar with the talent and skill level of the auditioner, thus only other variables are under question, such as availability or perhaps a sense of whether the performer will be a good match with the team and other performers involved in the project. The interview-only audition is most common in movie productions where the auditioner is a well-known actor.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

B

BEAT
(AKA: BEAT CHANGE)
1) Dramatically: the moment when a character's intent or emotional status changes, either slightly or altogether. Also, when a character's train of thought changes.

2) "Beat" as in timing: a brief pause before a character begins to speak or take an action, each beat is usually a one count.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
BLOCKING 1) As a verb: the process of designing and directing the movement of the actors on stage during the play, usually determined by the director, but in some instances by the assistant director.

2) As a noun: the actors' movements on stage during a play, which is recorded by stage management (SM, ASM or AD) in the prompt script.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
BLOCKING REHEARSAL A rehearsal where the director instructs the actors in the movement of their characters within one or more scene of the play. SOmetimes the assistant director may do the instruction, either relaying the director's planned blocking, or his or her own ideas.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
BREAKING CHARACTER When an actor slips out of character on stage, even if for only a moment, and behaves as hisself or herself. It is not acceptable during performance but may be acceptable in rehearsal, especially early rehearsal. Often in early rehearsal it is even appropriate form as the actors may leave their character to write a note in their script or ask the director a question about character intent, movement, etc. A common occurrence of breaking while on stage is when an actor laughs involuntarily thus losing composure and the behavior intended for the character. Another common occurrence is when the actor makes an error, usually a line flub, and outwardly expresses displeasure or frustration as herself or hisself.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL When an actor or his/her character acknowledges the existence of the theatre audience, thus ignoring the imaginary barrier (the fourth wall) between the audience and the universe occurring in the story on the stage. When "the actor" does it, it's usually an error; often times the actor does not directly acknowledge the audience but instead breaks character, which in itself can destroy the illusion, or the suspension of disbelief, thus breaking the fourth wall. When "the character" does it, it is built into the script and magically does not destroy the suspension of disbelief -- it is the character speaking to the audience from the world on the stage. Audience members can break the fourth wall, as well, most commonly by forgetting to turn off a mobile phone which then rings during a performance, pulling other audience members out of the world on the stage.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
BRUSH-UP or BRUSH-UP REHEARSAL A rehearsal held after a production has begun its run of performances. Brush-ups span the gambit from only the actors sitting around running the lines of the show to the actors on their feet performing the blocking (action) of the show with any troubling or elaborate technical aspects included. Rarely, if ever, is costuming included, unless there is some sort of quick-change or specific aspect needing practice; and then only the costumes involved in that situation are worn. Brush-ups are more common in non-professional theatre where the performances of a run are usually restricted to weekends and a safeguard refresher may be desired before the second, third, etc., weekends go up, since the cast has four days off between Sunday and Friday. Such brush-ups are traditionally on a Thursday evening. They are rarer in professional theatre where usually there is only one night off a week throughout the run of the show. Professional productions are more likely to have "pick-up" rehearsals, which are usually more focused on working out specific problem spots in the show, especially technical problems, and are, with very few exceptions, held on a performance day, prior to performance.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
BUSINESS
(AKA: STAGE BUSINESS)
1) The professional and financial aspects of a theatre, of theatre productions, and of all participants' careers

2) In terms of "business" during performance, see STAGE BUSINESS

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
BUTT BLOCKING Any sort of physical repositioning an actor does while seated during the performance of a scene. Butt blocking is a kind of stage business. Generally it is employed to keep an actor and his or her character from being too static while seated during a scene.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

C

CALLING FOR LINES The action of actors saying, "Line," (or something similar) during the rehearsal of a play or movie/TV shoot, when they cannot remember a line of dialogue. Someone designated as being "on book" will then give the actors the first word or several words to help prompt their memory. The on-book person, also known as the prompter, may be a PA (Production Assistant), an AD (Assistant Director), an ASM (Assistant Stage Manager), the SM (Stage Manager), the SS (script Supervisor) or even the director, depending on whether it's stage, screen, or professional, non-professional. In theatre, where having the lines memorized by Opening Night is required, there will come a point in the rehearsal period when the actors no longer can call for lines and are expected to work out any memory problems on their own and in character.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CALL SHEET A daily, weekly, or production-run document (printed or electronic) that lists which actors need to be at rehearsal and what time they should report, and possibly where they will rehearse (mainstage, music room, rehearsal hall, etc). During productions a call sheet will tell each actor when to report before the show -- sometimes, based on when they go on in the show, or make-up and/or costume considerations, various actors may have an earlier or later call for performance than the company in general. The stage manager is in charge of call sheets, though he or she may delegate it to an assistant stage manager or other PA. The SM may determine rehearsal call sheets in consultation with or by order of the director, but have the ultimate authority over performance call sheets. Crew members may be listed as well, or may have a separate call sheet.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CALL TIME
(AKA: CALL, CAST CALL, or CREW CALL)
The time the cast and/or crew members are schedule to arrive for rehearsals and performances.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CALLBACK or CALLBACK AUDITION Any audition that occurs after an initial audition. Actors being called back are being narrowed down for a part or parts in a production (usually one specific role). In movies and television there may be multiple callbacks, usually each additional audition is likely being seen by increasingly more important members of the production team. In theatre, there is usually only one call back, but there may be more, especially in professional theatre. In non-professional theatre callbacks are less common, though not unheard of.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CALLING PLACES See PLACES
CAST CALL See CALL TIME
CASTING DIRECTOR
(AKA: CD)
Casting directors (CDs) organize, manage and conduct initial auditions and interviews for most (if not all) roles for a production, sending forward all candidates that are deemed good contenders for the roles. They may or may not further manage callback auditions, depending on the agreements for each project. CDs tend to be second-parties contracted in by the producers to provide this casting service. Usually CDs are owners or associates of a casting agency.

Casting directors do not make the decisions about who will be cast in a production, but they do act as filters, making available to the production only those auditioners that are deemed right for the roles being cast.

Casting directors also are the liaisons between the actors (or other performers,) or their agents/managers, and the the production team, dealing with wage negotiations and other contractual agreements.

CDs are more common in the TV and movie industry than the theatre world.

See "Casting Director/Agent" at www.media-match.com for more detailed information.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CATTLE CALL AUDITION
(or, simply CATTLE CALL)
An open audition for a movie, TV, video, or theatrical stage production, where a large group of performers (actors, dancers, etc.) are gathered together to audition for the production. Usually there was only some sort of general casting call announcement made and specific appointments are not made; each performer auditions in order of arrival or by means of some other on-scene method of order selection. Rarely are cattle calls for bigger, principal roles for actors. Usually they are for small, supporting roles, or for extra work.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CENTER LEFT
(AKA: CL, CSL or CENTER STAGE LEFT)
The midway point between the back (up) and front (down) of the stage on its left-side playing space, from the actors' (or other performers') perspective as they face the audience.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CENTER RIGHT
(AKA: CR, CSR or CENTER STAGE RIGHT)
The midway point between the back (up) and front (down) of the stage on its right-side playing space, from the actors' (or other performers') perspective as they face the audience.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CENTER STAGE
(AKA: CS or CENTER)
The exact center area of the playing space of the theater stage.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CHOREOGRAPHER The person who designs and arranges dance movements, sequences and patterns for musical, ballets, music videos, movies and television productions. The choreographer is also in charge of instructing the dancers who perform the dance design (choreography).
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CHOREOGRAPHY The design and arrangement of dance movements, sequences and patterns for musical, ballets, music videos, movies and television productions. The choreographer (designer) will be in charge of instructing the dancers who perform the choreography.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CIVIC THEATRE See NON-PROFESSIONAL THEATRE
CLAPBOARD See SLATE
COLD READ
(AKA: SIGHT READ)
To read aloud from a script or other text, usually an actor during an audition for stage or screen, with little or no rehearsal, practice or study in advance. Cold reads are also common in acting and public address classes. In auditions, where they are most common, they allow the auditor (director, producers, casting director, or writers) to judge the actor's ability to quickly grasp at least the fundamentals the character and can help judge the actor's appropriateness for the role being considered. Casting auditors are often split on the merits of cold reads. Some find them very useful; others do not believe such audition method helps in successfully casting a project. Actors, too, are split on the merits of the cold read.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
COMMERCIAL THEATRE Professional theatre that is produced to make a profit for the investors. The profits are taxable income and production overhead and any investment losses are both tax deductible as in any business venture. There are several key configurations of commercial theatre in the United States:

  1. Independent professional productions mounted in a booked theatre space with an open-ended run, where the closing date is determined by how well the box office sales are doing. The prime example of this is a commercial Broadway production. In fact, Broadway is almost the exclusive home for such productions, with Las Vegas theatre being the runner up.
  2. Professional touring companies where the producers book the show into local theatrical venues along the tour route for set periods of time from one performance date through several weeks, or more. Tours are often independent productions, but can be corporate productions, such as the tours of Disney musicals.
  3. Dinner theatre productions which are produced by a theatre that, as the name suggests, serves meals to the audience members, who dine while watching the performance. Like regional theatres, dinner theatres have a set season of shows with close-ended runs for each. Dinner theatres lean toward producing lighter fair rather than heavy dramas, musicals being the most popular production choice. Dinner theatre is more prominent in the mid-west.

There may be variations on all these examples, but they all have one point in common: the productions are intended to make a profit to be shared by the investors. A commercial theatre production may or may not be Actors Equity Association union productions, except for Broadway shows, which are Equity.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
COMMUNITY THEATRE See NON-PROFESSIONAL THEATRE
COMPANY CALL A designated time when the theatre company as a whole (all cast and crew members) is to be at a rehearsal or performance of the production. All cast and crew are to adhere to the call time with possible exemptions for some individuals who have earlier or later call times.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
COSTUME DESIGNER The person who designs costuming for a theatre production. Based on the script and in collaboration with the director, the costume designer creates the look of the characters by designing clothes and accessories that fit each character and the era being depicted. As well they design to meet the intended mood and concept of the production, choosing appropriate shapes, colors and textures. The Costume designer also usually collaborates and cooperates with the lighting designer, the scenic designer, the property master, and the director to be sure the costume design fits the production as a whole in terms of thematic and visual correlation.

The designer may make or "build" costumes, use costumes in the theatre collection (often with augmentation and tailoring), or buy, rent, or lease costumes. The costume designer is also responsible for the accessories the actors will need for their characters, such as canes, hats, gloves, shoes, jewelry, etc., with such items often being key to helping define the perception of a particular character.

The costume designer usually is who creates the costume plot, which is the written chart of what particular costumes or pieces of clothing the actors need for each scene of the play.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
COSTUME PARADE The act of the performers (actors, dancer, etc.) presenting themselves in their various costumes for a production for the approval of the director or producer(s).
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CREW CALL See CALL TIME
CUE-TO-CUE
(AKA: CUE TO CUE) (Sometimes referred to in written form as "Q2Q")
The first, sometimes second, tech rehearsal during the first day of tech rehearsals -- often Tech Sunday -- to incorporate the technical elements of a theatre production for the first time with cast and crew. The only parts of the play run during a cue to cue are those moments that cue into a light change, a sound, or a special effect. Any set change or costume change that may be challenging or need special care may be dealt with during a cue to cue, as well.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
CURTAIN CALL In a stage performance, the curtain call is the bows taken by the performers after the end of the show. Usually the performers return to the stage after having exited and take a bow to the applauding audience. Traditionally the minor players return first, often in peer groups, with a graduation to less minor then finally the major performers. Often all come out in groups except the major players, who each come out separately and still usually in order so that the most important player (the star of the show) is last out for his or her bow. Then there is often a group bow, led by that star performer.

Sometimes the performers do not exit stage but simply take their bows, often in this case the lights fade to black at the end of the performance then come back up for the curtain call. The succession from lesser player to star is usually kept, with the lesser performers bowing first and the star bowing last.

It's often the practice for the group as a whole, after their bows, to then gesture toward the technical crew, as well as, in musical productions, the orchestra and its conductor, to acknowledge and recognize their important contributions.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

D

DARK THEATRE A theatre that is closed (refers to the stage lights being off). Generally it means that there is no performance or performances. The term may also be used to describe a night or period when there are no rehearsals during a rehearsal phase.

"The theatre (or show) is dark on Mondays" means there is no performance (or rehearsals) on Mondays -- the typical case for professional theatres.

Sometimes a show is called dark after production has closed.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DINNER THEATRE A commercial theatre that has a permanent theatre location that serves meals to the audience members, who dine while watching the performances of the production. Like regional theatres, dinner theatres have a set season of shows with close-ended runs for each. Dinner theatres lean toward producing lighter fair rather than heavy dramas, musicals being the most popular production choice. In the U.S. Dinner theatre is more prominent in the mid-west. Dinner theatres can be both union and non-union.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DIRECTOR In general terms, the director of a theatre production is the captain of the ship, guiding and coaching all aspects of the production toward unified vision and interpretation of the play script that meets his or hers. She or he works with the actors to create interpretations of the characters, with some directors taking looser control over the collaboration and others taking tighter control.

The director further has the most significant amount of creative control over the other artistic elements of the production, with all of the potential designers (scenic, lighting designer, sound, costumes), as well as the technical director (if there is one), answering to his or her vision of the play. If it's a musical, the the musical director and choreographer will also work toward the director's vision. All of these people will usually have collaborative input concerning their specific expertise.

In some professional productions, especially in commercial theatre, there might be restrictions placed on artistic authority, restrictions dictated by the producers based on commercial considerations. In all situations (professional or non-professional) a director's artistic decision might be vetoed simply due to budgetary concerns.

Usually the director will have authority over all casting, though in bigger commercial productions producers will have strong input and even veto power. Sometimes in such bigger commercial productions the producers cast major stars before a director is engaged.

For new plays that are being first developed, the director are commonly involved in script revision, both during rehearsals and during previews, consulting with the playwright, making suggestions, etc.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DL See DOWN LEFT
DOWN CENTER
(AKA: DC)
The center area of the closest section of the stage to the audience.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DOWN LEFT
(AKA: DL, DSL, or DOWN STAGE LEFT)
1) As a place on stage: the area of the stage that is closest to the audience and from the actors' (or other performers') perspective is the left section as they face the audience.

2) As a movement on stage: to move down left means the actor or other performer moves toward the part of the stage closest to the audience at a leftward angle, from said performer's perspective as he or she faces the audience.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DOWN RIGHT
(AKA: DR, DSR, or DOWN STAGE RIGHT)
1) As a place on stage: the area of the stage that is closest to the audience and from the actors' (or other performers') perspective is the right section as they face the audience.

2) As a movement on stage: to move down left means the actor or other performer moves toward the part of the stage closest to the audience at a rightward angle, from said performer's perspective as he or she faces the audience.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DOWN STAGE
(AKA: DS or DOWN)
1) As a place on stage: the front of the stage, the area closet to the audience.

2) As a movement on stage: to move down stage (or, down) means the actor or other performer moves directly toward the part of the stage closest to the audience -- usually with no deviation to the left or right, which would be "down left" or "down right," respectively.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DOWN STAGE LEFT See DOWN LEFT
DR See DOWN RIGHT
DRAMATIC READING A theatrical stage performance where the actors read from the script, in character, but only orally interpreting; the only physical aspect of the performance will be facial expressions and possibly some minor gesticulations. The actors do not move about the stage (or other space) during the reading; usually they are seated on chairs or on stools, with their scripts in ring binders setting on music stands in front of them. Props or costumes are rarely used, and when so, are kept to a minimum.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DRESS REHEARSAL
(AKA: DRESS, DRESS/TECH, or DRESS/TECH REHEARSAL)
A full rehearsal with all actors in full costume, and that includes all the technical aspects of lights, sound, special effects with all set changes and costume changes being done, I.E.: the show is run as if it was a performance in front of an audience; there will be no stops unless something goes far amiss. Sometimes referred to as a Tech/Dress or dress/tech since both full costuming and all tech is involved.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DS See DOWN STAGE
DSL See DOWN LEFT
DRY TECH A rehearsal, without the actors or other performers, to run through, discuss, and make appropriate adjustments to the any and all technical aspects of a theatre production, including all lighting & sound cues, special effects, and scene changes. It is essentially a cue-to-cue rehearsal without performers on stage.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
DSR See DOWN RIGHT
go to the alphabetical index for this page

E

EMC See EQUITY MEMBERSHIP CANDIDATE
EQUITY ACTOR A professional actor who is a member of the Actors' Equity Association union.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
EQUITY DAY OFF The day of the week during rehearsal period and performance period that is designated as a day off from the production as stipulated by Actors' Equity Association for all members of the union. It is most frequently, but not restricted to, Monday.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
EQUITY MEMBERSHIP CANDIDATE
(AKA: EMC)
A program set up by the Actors' Equity Association, the professional union of U.S. American stage actors, which allows actors, stage managers, and production assistants, not yet AEA members, to work in certain Equity theatres (known as Equity/Non-Equity houses), earning one point per week toward eventual membership in the union. An EMC candidates must earn 50 credits (weeks) of work at participating theatres. The weeks do not have to be consecutive, and may be accumulated over any length of time.

There are fast-track procedures that may come into play under certain circumstances, especially if an actor or production person already belongs to another related professional union (a "sister union"), such as SAG/AFTRA, AGMA, to name two.

There are also specific circumstances that can cause a candidate to lose all points and eligibility. Once EMCs have earned the 50 points they have five years to join the union, if they do not they lose the eligibility and would have to start over. Also, during that five year period, if eligible persons are engaged to work an Equity production, they must sign an Equity contract and join the union or forfeit their eligibility.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
EQUITY/NON-EQUITY THEATRE
(AKA: EQUITY/NON-EQUITY HOUSE)
A theatre that produces plays under contract with Actors' Equity Association, but may hire both Equity union actors and crew members and non-Equity cast and crew, the latter which may work as either local jobbers or as an Equity membership candidate. Often such houses work under a LORT (League of Resident Theatres) agreement,
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
EQUITY THEATRE
(AKA: EQUITY HOUSE)
A theatre that produces plays under contract with Actors' Equity Association, and are obliged to hire Equity union actors and crew members.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

F

FIGHT CALL A rehearsal, before each performance, of any and all fight choreography sequences that take place in a production. Fight call is preferably done on stage in the space or spaces where the fight choreography takes place in performance. The main goal is to practice the safety measures incorporated into the choreography, with maintaining the vitality of the performance also a goal.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHER The designer, and typically the coach, of simulated stage fights and battles (fight choreography, aka: stage combat).
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY
(AKA: STAGE COMBAT)
The design of sequences of movement between two or more actors (or other performers) that simulates a fight or a battle on stage, either as hand-to-hand combat or with the use of stage weaponry, such as rapiers. Good fight choreography strikes a balance between realism and safety, striving to make the fight appear as real as possible without jeopardizing the safety of the participants, or any one else on stage or in the audience, for that matter.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL
(AKA: FINAL DRESS)
The last tech/dress rehearsal, which includes all the technical aspects of lights, sound, special effects and all set changes and costume changes are done, I.E.: the show is run as if it was a performance in front of an audience; there will be no stops unless something goes terribly amiss.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
FOLEY
(in context of theatre productions)
Sound created and designed for a movie (or in this case, a theatre production) to be synchronized with action or to otherwise enhance the action of a scene. The term "Foley" may be used as a general term to mean all added sound and sound effects; purist will only refer to newly created sounds, done originally for the sequence, as Foley, and will call all other sound, brought in from the sound library as SFX (sound effects), or simply as "library sound." The term Foley is derived from the name of early sound effects artist Jack Foley, who pioneered the processes and artform of Foley work in motion pictures.

*I've taken the liberty of using this term to apply to sound design for a theatre production, when it technically applies to film making

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
FOURTH WALL The imaginary barrier, or "wall," between the audience and the actors in traditional theatre. Technically it is the invisible wall at the front of the stage in a theatre with a proscenium stage, but the term is appropriate for theatre-in-the-round, thrust stages or traverse stages, where there really would be more than just one invisible wall between the audience and the actors, as the audiences are on at least two sides of the stage, all the way to all around the stage. Poetically the Fourth Wall means the audience witnesses the action in the world of the play as a voyer, and the characters in that world are not aware of the audience's presence. The audience members are "eaves dropping" on the story being played out in front of them. When the actors or characters acknowledge the existence of the audience, that is known as "breaking the fourth wall."
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
FULL RUN A rehearsal of a theatre stage production that runs the whole show from start to finish. The term usually refers to rehearsals prior to any tech or dress rehearsals, which are, by their nature, also full runs. But in general, all rehearsals of the whole show from start to finish are full runs.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
FULLY-STAGED PERFORMANCE A theatrical stage production where all technical and dramatic performance attributes are employed. The actors perform the script from memory ("off-book") and physically take the actions required of the characters by the script. As well, they are costumed. There is a set with set pieces and props. Any needed lighting, sound cues or special effects are used. The technical and physical aspects (lighting, sound, sets, set pieces, properties, costuming, etc.) may be anywhere from detailed verisimilitude to vague, sparse and abstract, but the elements are represented as needed.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

G

GAFFER TAPE
(AKA: GAFF TAPE, GAFFER'S TAPE, CAMERA TAPE, or SPIKE TAPE)
A tape used in theatrical, movie, TV, and video productions, as well as still photography. It is a heavy cotton cloth pressure-sensitive tape that has strong adhesiveness. Gaffer tape is designed for temporary usage so when removed it does not harm what it is applied to and it leaves no residue, even if it has been applied to surface or object for an extended period of time. It is used to secure things together and is frequently used to tape cords to the floor or wall so they do not become a hazard to the artists and crew members who need to work in the areas where the cords are. Gaffer tape is most commonly matte black (or dark gray) but also comes in other colors, which are often used to "spike" where items on a set (theatrical, movie, or TV) are to be place, and used as "marks" (in movie or TV productions) where actors are to move to or to stand.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
GENERAL AUDITIONS
(AKA: GENERALS)
The first or entry level audition that professional theatre companies hold each year to see the aggregate of actors/performers who are interested in auditioning for one or more shows of the theatre's upcoming season. Depending on the size of the theatre company there may be anywhere from dozens to several hundred actors who audition at the generals. The audition will be short, usually a total of no more than five or six minutes, including all the time before and after the audition material is presented, and is usually conducted in a very large room or theatre hall. The actor will audition with short monologues and/or short excerpts of songs, in front of artistic directors, producers, or others from theatre companies charged with the task of spotting the potential talent to fill out their casting needs for the season. Some actors will then be called back later for callback auditions, where they will audition for the directors and/or producers of specific shows. If the theatre company is big enough, they may hold separate generals in several cities, such as New York, Chicago and their home city, to have a larger pool of professional (and often semi-professional) actors to choose from.

Generals often are jointly conducted by more than one theatre company, perhaps all the theatres in a region, and will then be known as "unified general auditions" or just simply as either "unified auditions" or "unifieds."

*Generals are almost exclusively a practice of professional theatres; non-professional theatres rarely have general auditions for their seasons.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
GOFER "Gofer" is a colloquialism for a lower-rung production assistant, or a personal assistant who runs a variety of smaller miscellaneous production errands and tasks or a variety of personal errands and tasks for production staff or talent. The term is rarely used outside of a professional theatre production setting.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
GOING UP
(or TO GO UP, or WENT UP)
When an actor has forgotten the next line her or his character is to speak. The term is usually reserved for those moments when the words are mentally irretrievable, and usually is not used to mean the actor flubs a line, only momentarily loses a line, or has paraphrased. Though the term has a weightier importance when the actor "goes up" during a performance, it also applies to any rehearsal where the actor is working from memory and forgets a line.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
GREENROOM In both theatre and television productions (not so much movie productions) the greenroom is a room or designated space in a back stage or close by area that serves as a waiting room and lounge space for performers before, during (when they aren't "on") and sometimes after a performance, especially in theatre if there is another performance of the show later in the same day. The origin of the term is usually attributed to the account of the rooms historically being painted green, though greenrooms are rarely, if ever, green, today.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

H

HM See HOUSE MANAGER
HOUSE MANAGER
(AKA: HM)
The house manager (HM) is in charge of "the front of the house," which is all areas from the space just outside the front entrance to the theatre and all points in between, up to the apron of the stage. The HM oversees the cleaning staff, the ushers, and all other non-production personel who work any performance nights of a theatrical production. The house manager ensures that all the areas under her or his authority are clean, neat, and tidy. HMs also makes sure all appropriate signage (directions to bathrooms, sections of the theatre seats, warnings about language or loud noises in the show, or any other information the audience members should have) is properly placed.

House mangers are charged to be sure the audiences members feel welcomed to the show and that they have a safe experience throughout their visit to the theatre. House managers are also there to answer questions, listen to patrons' compliments and concerns, and see that the ushers do likewise.

In smaller professional theatre and many non-professional theatres the HM may also act as the usher, being the one who takes tickets, hands out the playbills, and helps audience members find their seats. Often, however, the ushers perform these tasks, answering to the house manager.

HMs also coordinates with box office managers and workers, and stage managers, concerning when the box office will be closed before the curtain and whether the curtain (start of the show) needs to be held. He or she also works with the stage manger concerning when it is okay to "open the house" -- i.e.: open the seating area to the public.

Often, in both professional and non-professional theatres, there will be a head house manager, who could be called General House Manager, and subordinate house managers who are on-site to manage specific performances. This head house manager will be the one who is in charge of all training for house, as well as hiring (or recruitment, in volunteer situations) of all assistant HMs and all ushers, as well as the scheduling of such.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
HOUSE RIGHT and HOUSE LEFT The right and left sides of the theatre space from the perspective of the audience members looking toward the back of the stage.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

I

INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION
(AKA: INDEPENDENT THEATRE PRODUCTION)
A commercial theatre production mounted in a booked theatre space with an open-ended run, where the closing date is determined by how well the box office sales are doing. The prime example of this is a commercial Broadway production. In fact, Broadway is almost the exclusive home for such productions, with Las Vegas theatre being the runner up.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
INTERMISSION MUSIC The music that is played for the audience in the theatre space during intermission of a theatrical performance. Typically it is pre-recorded music played through the sound system, but may occasionally be performed live. Such music will also be played before the opening curtain, and is then known as "pre-show music."
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

L

LIGHTING DESIGN The act of identifying and/or conceiving, then producing the lighting elements of a theatrical play performance, those elements being all purposeful sources of light, whether they are electronic (theatre lights) or organic (such as candles). The lighting designer will designate such factors as the timing, length, focus, intensity, and color of each light cue. All this based on the dictates and needs of the script as well as in consultation or collaboration with the director.

Timing reflects what verbal or visual cue the light technician will use to execute each light cue that is run from the light board in the tech booth.

Length means what it suggests: how long the light stays up, or how long it takes to fade up a light or fade it to black.

Focus means what space or object on stage each light or group of lights is to illuminate or highlight.

Intensity means how bright or dim, harsh or soft each light will be.

Color means what it suggests.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
LIGHTING DESIGNER Based first on the dictates of the script, the theatre lighting designer collaborates with the director and usually the rest of the design team (scenic, sound, costume, and, if there is one, the choreographer) to create the appropriate lighting for each moment in the play. His or her design will take into account the place each scene is set (in a living room, an office, a patio, etc.), the time of day (if relevant), any desired isolation of the part of the stage where each moment takes place, and the mood or atmosphere that has been agreed upon. The safety of the cast and crew will also play into her or his design, making sure there is adequate low light (usually blue light) after the lights have been faded to black for scene transitions -- so actors may exit and enter safely in the "dark," and stage crew members may safely move on and off stage to make whatever set piece and prop changes are necessary. The basic things the lighting designer is most focused on are lighting intensity, color, distribution, and the location or movement of the subjects on stage.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
LIGHTING TECHNICIAN
(AKA: LIGHT TECH, LIGHTING OPERATOR, LIGHT OPERATOR, LIGHTING ENGINEER, or LIGHT ENGINEER)
The technical crew member who executes the light cues during a live theatre production. Usually she or he sits in the sound and light both or at a station placed in or toward the back of the theatre hall.

In most professional and many non-professional settings, the light tech will follow cues as called by the stage manager, who either will be seated nearby or will communicate over a walkie-talkie system. Otherwise, the light tech will execute cues by following along in a script with the light cues marked.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
LINE NOTES Specific corrections given to actors, at the end of each rehearsal session, regarding errors they have made by delivering lines incorrectly from what is written by the playwright. In professional theatre productions the responsibility to manage line notes is the stage manager's, though the task is often delegated to the assistant stage manager or other production assistants. Though sometimes given verbally in professional theatre, line notes are usually written out on small, form slips, each showing one error and what the correct wording is.

In non-professional theatre, line notes are frequently given verbally; they are usually still under the umbrella of the stage manager's responsibilities.

After a production has opened to performances, line notes may still be given in professional theatre, and usually are verbally delivered by the stage manager. In non-professional theatre, they are not as common during the performance stage.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
LINE STUDY The process actors go through to learn their lines. It can be as simple as the act of memorizing the lines, but may also mean the actors work to interpret the characters emotional and mental motivations for the things they say *(see script analysis).
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
LINE THROUGH
(AKA: LINE RUN)
1) A rehearsal where actors run all or some portion of their dialogue from the script of a play, screenplay or teleplay, without going through the physical blocking. The goal is for the actors to keep or sharpen their memories of the lines. Often the target is to get the deliveries to be verbatim from the script, to avoid even the slightest paraphrasing, even as small a difference as "you're" instead of "you are." A line through may or may not be a speed through (saying the lines as quickly as possible) and the actors may or may not say the lines with the emotion of the characters.

2) "Running lines" is also when actors practice their lines outside of a formal rehearsal time, by themselves, with the help of someone prompting them, or with other actors. Often actors will run their lines from a scene together before a rehearsal or performance, or during down time for either a rehearsal or performance. Actors also run their lines alone or with help from a friend or loved one while away from the theatre and perhaps while doing the everyday things of their personal life: cooking, jogging, doing the laundry, taking a walk, etc., etc.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
LEFT See STAGE LEFT
LORT
(LEAGUE OF RESIDENT THEATRES)
An association of several dozen professional regional theatres in the United States that ultimately engage more Equity contracts than all American commercial theatre ventures combined. LORT theatres are located in most metropolitan areas in the U.S.

The LORT membership theatres bargain collectively with Actors' Equity Association, The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and United Scenic Artists, among other major labor unions in the entertainment industry.

Many LORT theatres are Equity/non-Equity houses that offer Equity membership candidate contracts, as well as local jobbers contracts.

LORT AGREEMENT
An agreement for specific contractual arrangements between theatres that are part of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) as negotiated between LORT and the various theatrical unions, especially Actors' Equity Association.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
LORT THEATRE
A resident, or regional, theatre in the United States that is a member of the League of Resident Theatres.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

M

MASTER CARPENTER The master carpenter manages the set construction of a theatre production. Under the supervision of the set designer and/or one or more of the director, the producer and technical director, the master carpenter sees to it that all the scenic elements meet the specific needs of the production. He or she may head a set construction crew.

In a professional production the master carpenter will coordinate with the scenic painters and fabricators to meet the scenic design. In a non-professional production the master carpenter may also serve as manager of the painters and fabricators.

If she or he is a staff member at a regional theatre or a college theatre, the master carpenter usually manages the scene shop, maintains all the equipment and tools, and coordinates with the visiting production staff who may be renting the theatre.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
MONOLOGUE or MONOLOG
(AKA: SOLILOQUY)
An extended delivery of spoken word on stage by an actor who is often alone on stage, but also whenever his or her character's line in a dialogue with other characters in a scene can be considered at least a long paragraph in length.

This may also be called a soliloquy, especially if the length starts to reach a page or more; though soliloquies more often feature the character (the actor) alone on stage or with the other actors in darkness, and perhaps motionless, if they are on stage.

Many auditions, especially for professional theatre companies, have a requirement that actors perform at least one monologue, and often two of contrasting dramatic intent (i.e.: dramatic and comic), and usually restrict each monologue to one minute or less, or a similar time length.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
MUSICAL
(AKA: MUSICAL PRODUCTION)
A type of live theatrical play production that incorporates songs and usually choreography to tell the story. The singing and dancing is accepted as a part of the reality of the universe of the story, with such actions being normal discourse and behavior for the characters.

IE: in a musical, two lovers singing to each other are simply having a conversation, whereas in a straight play, they would understand that they are singing to each other as a unique behavior.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
MUSICAL REVUE A type of live theatrical musical production that has little or no story or plot and often no dialogue whatsoever, as well as often no choreography. Yet, there still may be an overarching theme (even if tenuous) to the collection of songs in the revue. A good example is Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

Traditionally, the original French revues did incorporate much dancing -- chorus lines, especially -- as well as interspersed comedic skits.

           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
MUSICAL SIGHT-READING
(AKA: SIGHT-READING, and PRIMA VISTA)
The ability to read and correctly produce vocal or instrumental music, as written, immediately during the first reading of a musical score. Also referred to as prima vista.
           *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
go to the alphabetical index for this page

N

NON-PROFESSIONAL THEATRE
(AKA: COMMUNITY THEATRE, AMATUER THEATRE, sometimes CIVIC or PUBLIC THEATRE)
As the term suggests, non-professional theatre is a theatre or theatre group that produces theatre productions without the goal of making a profit. The performers and crew do not make a salary for their contributions except for in special circumstances that are not the norm. The organization will be made up of all or mostly volunteers for all aspects of management and production. "Community theatres" are the most common derivation of non-professional theatre, and such are usually registered non-profit entities with tax-exempt status and a governing body (typically a board of directors). Some non-professional theatres do have some paid staff; if so, such is usually a managing or artistic director, and sometimes a maintenance person or janitor.

Performers, designers, and production crew will only receive financial compensation for their involvements in a production under special circumstances:

  1. There is some need for an Equity actor, perhaps to perform in a special fund-raiser for the organization, who appears under a Equity special appearance contract, which must be approved by the Actors Equity Association union.
  2. It is not uncommon to pay musical directors and musicians (including rehearsal accompanists) when non-professional theatres mount musicals, in light of the special skills needed.
  3. Some non-professional theatres pay for lighting or other designers, either as a rule or under some extenuating circumstances.
  4. Some non-professional theatres pay a stipend to directors.
  5. A non-professional theatre production is in need of some unique skill set, such as a video that need to be produced for use in the show, or an original portait of a cast member is needed for the show, and no volunteer with the skill set is available,

In general, most organizational and artistic ventures in a non-professional theatre and its productions are volunteered "for the love of the craft," and in many non-professional theatres, all are volunteered.

Non-professional theatres do typically charge ticket fees for performances, but all proceeds are for covering production overhead; any proceeds left are for operational overhead -- i.e.: no one draws a personal dividend from the production, or from the tax deductible donations made to the organization.

**For More Detailed Perspectives on the Specific Term "Community Theatre" see the following:

  • "Community Theatre," at dlibrary.acu.edu.au.
  • "The Meaning of 'Community' Theater"
  • "What Is 'Community Theatre'?"
  • Wikipedia definition of the term.
  •            *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    NOTES Critiques and instructions from the director or other staff to the actors, crew members, or designers to change one or more aspect of performances, back stage work, or design. Notes are intended to refine the performances and appearance of the show. Not only do SMs and designers potentially receive notes, but they may also give notes pertaining to their areas of contribution to the show, IE: a lighting or sound designer may give notes about when and how an actor executes action in relationship to a specific cue, or to the light or sound technicians about the execution of specific cues.

    Kudos about what was done well also fall under the term, "notes."

    After a production has moved into performance, all notes go through the stage manager, who relays them to cast and crew members, especially in a professional production.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    O

    OFF-BOOK Actors are "off-book" when they have their lines committed to memory and do not need to refer to their scripts.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    ON BOOK
    (AKA: PROMPTING)
    To follow along in an open script, usually the "prompt script," during theatre production rehearsal to give any actor who calls for her or his line the first few words of that next line.

    On rare occasions there may be a prompter (someone on book) during a live performance, usually prompting the lines via a microphone that feeds to an ear bug speaker.

    Also, to follow along to check the accuracy of the actors' delivery of their lines against the written dialogue.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    ON YOUR FEET
    (AKA: ON-YOUR-FEET REHEARSAL)
    A rehearsal where the actors are walking the stage or other rehearsal space, as opposed to table work. The actors will either be learning their blocking or executing it, if already learned.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    OPEN AUDITION Any audition being held (for actors or any other performers) that is open in general for anyone to audition, rather than for specific actors (etc.) being called in. Usually there are no appointments set, but even appointment-based auditions can be considered "open" if anyone who calls can get a spot as long as one is available. General auditions for professional theatre companies usually fit this last criteria. Community theatre productions are almost always open auditions, and usually come close to, if not actually being, cattle call auditions. Though any callbacks, professional or non-professional, will not be "open," as the production team is now being selective about whom they audition.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    OPENING NIGHT The first official public performance of a theatrical play or musical production, with tickets selling at full price (unless the performances are free). Typically it is a Friday evening.

    Often in professional theatre settings there have been one or more preview performances, which have also been open to the public, but with ticklets at slightly to greatly reduced prices and for which critics were prohibited from attending. In non-commercial theatre, preview performances are incredibly rare, though an audience of invited guests are sometimes in attendeance at the Final Dress Rehearsal.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    ORGANIC SOUND See PRACTICAL SOUND
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    P

    PA See PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
    See PERSONAL ASSISTANT
    PAPER TECH A meeting between all the designers (light, sound, scenic, costume, special effects, etc.) and the director and stage manager (sometimes only the stage manager) where all lighting and sound cues, costume changes, movement of the scenery, and any practical special effects are discussed and mapped out. It is called a "paper tech" since all these aspects are written down and placed into the stage managers master prompt book.

    Paper techs are not as common in non-professional productions.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PERSONAL ASSISTANT
    (AKA: PA or GOFER)
    Personal assistants are almost always exclusive to professional theatre productions and are usually assigned to a particular talent (actor or other performer) or the director or producer to help meet that person's personal needs. These PA's may run personal errands, run for refreshments and food, help with many behind-the-scenes personal needs, or, in some cases, drive the talent or production staff. Sometimes PA's may also be called "gofers." Some of these duties may cross over into the territory of duties performed by production assistants, also called "PA's," but personal assistants, again, usually are specifically assigned to particular talent or production people, and their duties rarely if ever are directly involved in production.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PHOTO CALL The designated time when the cast as a whole, a particular group of cast members, or an individual cast member is to be at a designated location for phtographs, usually for pubilicty purposes, and usually in costume.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PICK-UP TECH REHEARSAL
    (AKA: PICK-UP TECH, or PICK-UP REHEARSAL)
    For longer production runs "pick-up" rehearsals cover things that have become problem technical spots or particular tricky spots that need more on-going attention. They may also deal with changed technical aspects, such as new technical moments. They often are not incorporated with performance pick-ups or brush-ups to avoid distraction from performance aspects. Pick-up Techs may also be scheduled for new actors or new technicians coming into the production, or for those who were away from some period of time. For touring productions they may be scheduled to handle necessary changes because of the particular structure of a new theatre venue demands alterations to standard procedure.

    Pick-up techs are almost exclusively done in professional productions.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PLACES The indication that it is time for an actor or for the entire cast of a theatre production to be in the proper place off-stage to be ready to enter the stage at the start of an act or a scene within the act, or when an actor's cue to enter comes during a scene already in progress. "Places" is determined by the stage manager who will either "call places" or delegate the relaying of that message to an assistant stage manager. Typically the SM or ASM will say, "Places for Act One [or Scene Two, or whatever]."

    The call to places is also directed at the stage crew and the technicians who must then be at their appropriate stations.

    Typically, early warnings, such as "Ten minutes till places," are also given so the cast and crew have time to prepare.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PLAYWRIGHT The author of a play script, which is written to be performed by actors, live on a stage or otherwise in public in front of an audience. The term tends to be used for authors of straight plays rather than those who have written the scenes and dialogue for a musical, the latter usually referred to has having "written the book" or credited as "book by (............)." Though it should be noted that most musical books are written by authors who also write straight plays.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    POST MORTEM
    (AKA: POST MORTEM MEETING or POSTPRODUCTION MEETING)
    A meeting of the production team after a theatre production has wrapped to discuss the successes and the failures of the production and how to make improvements in the future. For limited run shows, such as at regional or non-professional theatres, the post mortem is usually within a week after strike. Professional touring companies may also have post mortems after they have wrapped a tour stop, as well as when the tour wraps completely. Likewise, the production team for a commercial theatre production with an open-ended run in a particular house may have occasional production meetings during the run that serve the same purpose as a post mortem, and may have an actual post mortem meeting when the show finally closes.

    Post mortem meetings are less common in non-professional theatre.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PRACTICAL SET PIECE or PRACTICAL PROP
    (AKA: PRACTICAL)
    A set piece or prop that functions as it would in the real world, such as a table lamp, a telephone, a water faucet in a kitchen sink, a cigarette lighter. The items functionality may be self-contained (such as the table lamp turns on from its own switch) or it may be controlled from the tech booth (the actor may use the switch but that is only a visual cue for the technician to power the lamp). A "practical radio" will mean that the sound comes from speakers inside the device fed from a sound source in the tech booth, though the power button on the radio may function. A faucet or water pump will, of course, have an off-stage source, which may be a self-contained reservoir or may be hooked up to a back-stage faucet drawing from the municipal source.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PRACTICAL SOUND
    (AKA: ORGANIC SOUND)
    Non-pre-recorded sound that is generated from the stage or off stage, such as a telephone that actually rings rather than having the sound of a phone ring coming from speakers, or actors off-stage making the mumbling of an angry crowd rather than using a sound file of such.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PRE-SHOW MUSIC
    (AKA: PRE-SHOW)
    The music that is played for the audience in the theatre space before the opening curtain of a theatrical performance. Typically it is pre-recorded music played through the sound system, but may occasionally be performed live. Such music will also be played during intermission, and is then known as "intermission music."
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PREPRODUCTION The process of bringing the elements together to make a play or musical production. Preproduction can include all of developing the script (if it is new), funding the project, recruiting the production team, auditioning and casting the actors, finding the theatre location where the show will be performed, and the major organization and planning of rehearsal, all the design elements (set, lighting, sound, costuming, any secial effects) and the construction or creation of those element. It's also not uncommon for some hefty portion of the promotional gameplan to be laid out in preproduction.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PREVIEWS
    (AKA: PREVIEW PERFORMANCES)
    Almost exclusively a practice in professional theatre, preview performances are public performances between Final Dress and the official Opening Night of a production. Previews are the final chance for the director, the designers, and the production crew to identify problems and opportunities for improvement that did not make themselves apparent by the end of tech rehearsals. The difference between preview performances and tech rehearsals are that where the performance would be stopped during a tech if problems arrise (even if there is an audience), it will generally not be stopped during a preview, except for in emergency situations, like any other public performance. The other big difference is that previews are performed in front of a paying public audience, though the tickets are usually at a reduced rate from the rates after the show has "opened." Critics are also not invited to previews. In regional theatres the preview period is likely to be short, often just one preview performance, the night before opening. Commercial theatre productions (such as those on Broadway) may be "in previews" for weeks, especially of there are a lot of technical effects. For new musicals, this is often the place where songs are cut or added, based on audience response. Playwrights may tweak their new scripts for straight plays during previews, as well, also usually, but not necessarily exclusively, based on audience response.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PRIMA VISTA See MUSICAL SIGHT-READING
    PRINCIPAL ACTOR An actor who is in a principal role.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PRINCIPAL ROLE A role for an actor in a theatre production that is not an extra, background or chorus role.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PRODUCER In professional theatre, as an overarching term, the producers are those in charge of all operations, responsible for financial backing, budgets, the hiring of production staff, the casting of performers, and all technical, and logistic elements of the project, including any safety concerns. However, usually the director has artistic authority over the project, subject to the budgetary or marketing prohibitions set by the producers.

    Independent Producers (professional) -- In commercial theatres productions, such as those on Broadway in New York City, on the West End of London, or national and international touring productions, the producers will be the ones who have raised the financial backing, perhaps even contributing from their own liquid assets, and either will play an active role in the mounting of the production, involving themselves in the management aspects, perhaps even creative aspects, or will hire or partner with producers under them to take such active participation. All the producers, from the backers to the managers are considered independent producers since they are attached to a production and not a specific theatre or theatre company.

    Producing Artistic Director or Managing Artistic Director (professional) -- this is a producer for a professional regional theatre, a repertory theatre, or a theatre company (or "troupe") where the entity has resident artists or company members, and often permanent production staff, such as a resident stage manager, resident directors, a head carpenter, and designers (lighting, sound, costumes, etc. -- who are often classified as resident artists). Usually, but not always, such theatre companies are professional non-profit theatres, rather than for-profit enterprises. The producing artistic director is in charge of putting together the company's theatrical season, either picking the shows that will be produced, or overseeing that process. If the company also has a managing director, many of the more business management aspects of running the company, such as soliciting funding for the organization are likely to be under the management of that managing director; if there is not one, they will fall to the artistic director, who may have the label of "Producing Artistic Director" or that of "Managing Artistic Director." The artistic and managing directors will work in partnership with their split of responsibilities coming from mutual agreement or the dictates of a charter or constitution. Either way, the artistic director will oversee the artistic direction of the company, including production budgets.

    There may, however, be a staff producer, perhaps labelled as a "line producer," assigned to each specific production during a theatre company's season, who oversees the specific budgetary and creative needs of the production, answering back to the artistic director.

    In non-professional (amateur) theatre, which in the U.S. will overwhelmingly be the familiar "community theatre" (also prone to be a registered non-profit organization), the producer, in general terms, will be charged to oversee the production of each, or of a specific, show mounted by the theatre.

    Producers for such organizations tend to be mandated to be a member of the board of directors or other governing body, so such are essentially the equivalent of staff producers or line producers. The breadth of the producer's responsibilities may very from one such theatre to another, but rarely will not include oversight of the production budget -- with varying degrees of authority and veto power over expenditures, depending on the dictates of each theatre. The responsibilities will include all or most of: securing the designers (set, lighting, sound, costumes, properties, etc.), the securing of stage crew, some level of outreach to potential cast members before auditions, management of auditions, perhaps some or much involvement in publicity for the production, and trouble-shooting throughout pre-production, the rehearsal period, and the production run.

    The degree in which the non-professional theatre producer is involved in some of the tasks in the previous paragraph will depend on the set-up and philosophy of the theatre organization or on the particular director for a specific production. Some directors will come into the project with a favorite stage manager or set designer, as examples.

    In general, in the non-professional theatre setting, with the virtually universal authority of budget oversight, the producer's job is to help meet the needs of the director and the production as a whole, as each need arises.

    PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
    (AKA: PA, or GOFER)
    Virtually exclusive to professional theatre productions, production assistants may be responsible for one or more of many different duties to help with production, depending on who the PA works for or with, and depending on the size and scope of the production. Most frequently, productions assistants work with the production stage manager. Their duties may include clerical work, and they will run errands, and other miscellaneous work. They may directly assist the director or producer, helping with many behind-the-scenes needs or they may do "gofer" work: making pick-ups and delivering things, fetching refreshments and meals, and in some cases, driving talent or production people. Some of these duties may cross over into the territory of personal assistants, also called "PA's," but the latter usually are specifically assigned to particular talent or production people.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PRODUCTION MEETING A meeting called for and held by either the director, the producer, or both, with key production people, such as stage manager, assistant director, designers (set, light, sound, costuming, props, etc.), to discuss the game plan for preproduction and production of the play, and any coordination between the staff, especially designers, that will be necessary. Deadlines are usually set during an early meeting. There may be more than one meeting during the period prior to performances.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PRODUCTION MUSIC Music, whether live or pre-recorded, that is used as part of the performance of a theatrical play. It will be music that plays into the start, that plays during, and plays out of each act, as well as the music playing while the actors take their bows at curtain call. It includes all music used to cover scene transitions, any music used to underscore moments in a scene, or any music that is a sound effect coming from a radio, TV, or otherwise is supposed to be playing in the world of the play (i.e.: the sounds of music from a carnival off in the distants, or jukebox music in the background of a bar scene, etc).

    The musical score of a musical production is not considered "production music," though there may be sound effect music that is considered so in a musical.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PROFESSIONAL NON-PROFIT THEATRE
    (AKA: NON-PROFIT)
    A professional non-profit theatre is a professional theatre company, usually a regional theatre, in which revenues brought in, whether through donations from benefactors or through ticket sales, do not financially benefit any owners, stock-holders, or founders -- there are no dividends paid out. The only money paid out are salaries to staff, performers, and production crew members, and other general operating expenses, including promotional expenses for both the theatre company itself and for the productions it mounts, and, of course, the expenses of the production budgets are paid out. All revenue beyond operating and production expenses are used for future expenditures of the same nature. Professional non-profit theatres are registered tax-exempt entities and donations to them are tax deductible.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PROFESSIONAL THEATRE Theatre companies or theatre productions where all administrative and production staff, and all performers are paid a salary for their work, whether union or non-union entities, and regardless of non-profit or commercial theatre status. Size of salary is not relevant either, even companies or productions that pay only a stipend are technically professional ventures.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PROMPTER The person who is on book during theatrical rehearsal, ready to help an actor who needs his or her next line or needs to know any specific piece of blocking. The prompter is usually the stage manager, but may also be the assistant director, or a production assistant. In community theatre it may be whoever is free at that moment to do it, including a fellow cast member who isn't in the scene.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PROMPTING See on book
    PUBLIC THEATRE See NON-PROFESSIONAL THEATRE
    PROP or PROPERTY Any object in a play that is used by the actors as their characters, in other words any inanimate or mechanical object or devise an actor interacts with in a meaningful manner to tell the story. Examples of props: weapons, eating utensils, a pen & notepad, a computer keyboard, food or drink (that is consumed or handled).

    Sometimes things that are otherwise considered set pieces will become props if the actors/characters use them in a significant manner. For instance a dinning room chair will still be considered a set piece if all the actor does is pull it out and sit on it as an act incidental to the scene. If it becomes a bone of contention between to characters in the story who argue over where it goes in the room, and each keeps moving it to make a point, or if pulling the chair out to sit on it is significant to the plot of the scene or overall story, it is now a prop.

    Conversely, any item mentioned in the first paragraph above is not a prop, but rather a set piece if it is on the set but is not used by the actors/characters. These items may also be referred to as set dressing.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    PROP STRIKE See STRIKE
    PROPERTY MASTER
    (AKA: PROP or PROPS MASTER)
    The props master is responsible for procuring or making, and overseeing any props needed for a theatre production. He or she will design a properties plot based on the dictates of the script and in consultation and cooperation with the director, and often the scenic designer and the costume designer.

    At regional theatres, dinner theatres, and collegiate theatres, the property master will be on staff, and will manage the theatre's inventory of properties as well as work with each production of the season.

    In independent commercial theatre productions, booked for open ended runs in one house or for close-ended runs on tour, there is also a property master on the production staff but he or she is generally freelance and tethered only to that particular production.

    In non-professional theatre there usually is a volunteer, who usually is a member of the board of directors or other governing body, who is prop master and manages the theatre's prop inventory, but may not work directly with each production but rather advises the production prop masters, or other volunteers working on specific productions.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    Q

    Q2Q See CUE-TO-CUE
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    R

    READ-THROUGH
    (AKA: TABLE READ)
    Traditionally the first rehearsal for a play, movie or TV show. It is a read-through of the script with the actors and the director, and sometimes others from the creative team. As the name suggests, the actors, et al, sit around a table and the script is read from beginning to end. It allows for all to hear the show in continuity so all get familiar with the words and what each actor brings on board, though it is understood that the actors are giving a colder read and have done little or no development on their characters, therefore a performance level read is not expected.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    REGIONAL THEATRE
    (AKA: RESIDENT THEATRE)
    *in the U.S.
    A professional theatre company that curates and produces its own seasons, rather than having outside producers procure it for production space. Usually the "regional" nomenclature signifies the theatre as such professional theatre outside of New York City. Regional theatres tend to be professional theatres that are incorporated as non-profit ventures and thus have tax-exempt status, with a board of trustees, a managing director and/or artistic director, and wholly or partially employ artists and applicable back stage workers under some type of Equity contract, and as well honoring other theatrical unions, especially the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Regional theatres tend to have resident artists (both performers, and sometimes designers), though non-resident artists are frequently employed both as cast members and production staff. Regional theatre companies that employ both Equity and non-Equity artists for productions are the most common route for non-union artists and stagecraft workers to earn their points toward becoming Equity union members.

    See Wikipedia's "Regional Theater in the United States" for more detailed information.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    REHEARSAL
    (AKA: REHEARSAL PERIOD, REHEARSAL PROCESS, IN REHEARSAL)
    The period (or an individual session) during the preproduction of a theatrical stage production when the production crew and the cast prepare the show, bringing all the elements together and practicing them to evolve to successful performances in front of the audiences when the production opens to the public. Some specifics include the director's and the actors' collaboration to find the portrayals of the characters that work best and best tell the playwright's story, which for the actors will include practicing their character's dialogue until they have it memorized and can deliver it with emotional authenticity. Actors' movement on stage is also decided and practiced as well as the eventual incorporation and practice of all lighting, sounds, all movement and placement of props and set pieces, and any special effects, whether executed by crew members or cast members. In other words, the process and practice of bringing all the elements of the theatrical production into a coherent whole that is ready for an audience to experience.

    To be "in rehearsal" means the person or the production is in this stage of preproduction preparation and practice.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    REHEARSE or TO REHEARSE The action of learning and practicing any or all elements of a theatrical play with the goal of mastering such to prepare for performance in front of an audience.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    RIGHT See STAGE RIGHT
    RUN Noun: When a play or musical, or some portion, is rehearsed in consecutive act, scene, page, or line order. Actors may or may not be off-book, but usually the run happens with as few stops as possible -- and it will not be a part of a rehearsal where blocking directions are be given or taken -- though a section is usually "ran" immediately after the blocking has been done.

    Verb: The act of rehearing a play, act, scene or scenes, or portions of a scene, in consecutive order, with as few stops as possible.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    RUNNING LINES See LINE THROUGH
    RUN-THROUGH
    (AKA: RUN-THROUGH REHEARSAL)
    A rehearsal of a play or musical where the entire show is rehearsed from start to finish. There may be stops to address problems and portions may be repeated, either at the time of the stop or after the whole show is rehearsed, but all of the show is rehearsed, from start to finish during the rehearsal session.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    S

    SCENE WORK A rehearsal, for live theatre or for a movie/TV/video production, where one or more specific scenes from the script are concentrated on. There may be one or more of several goals, including working on pacing, improving physical movement within the scene, developing better character report, honing the dramatic or comical aspects, getting the lines (words) correct, or any of a variety of other improvements. The scene or scenes will usually be run multiple times, and there may be many stops within the scene to work and rework specific moments.

    Scene work is common in acting classes, as well, as a teaching device to hone acting skills.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SCENIC DESIGNER
    (AKA: SET DESIGNER)
    The scenic designer is the architect of the stage set used in a theatrical production. She or he creates and designs that set based on the dictates of the script and in collaboration with the director to meet that director's vision and interpretation of the script. Set designers also work with the rest of the design team ((lighting, sound, costume, and, if there is one, the choreographer), as well as the stage manager, to ensure that the set fits the themes, moods, tones, and production operational needs of the show. The set must successfully use the physical space of the theatre stage in terms of its size and relationship to the audience and sight lines. As well as the structures on stage, the scenic designer is responsible for any furnishings and other set pieces that are on stage. A good scenic designer creates a set that suggests the style and tone of the whole production, creates the appropriate mood and atmosphere, correctly reflects the time and place of the story, and gives the director and the actors good choices for blocking. Keeping the backstage areas out of vision to the audience is also important to the set the scenic designer creates. The scenic designer may or may not take direct responsibility for set dressing, but any other set dresser will usually collaborate with the scenic designer, who will have authority over the set dresser's choices.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SCRIPT ANALYSIS
    (AKA: SCRIPT STUDY, TEXT ANALYSIS, or TEXT STUDY)
    The examination of a script to understand and interpret its elements. Thorough analysis will look in detail at the structure of the story, to motivations of the characters, whatever symbolism is present, what theme or themes are inherent in the text, subtext and subplots, and any other aspects that are present in the script.

    To some extent or another most of those involved with the production will analyse the script. Directors will need to have as broad and as complete an understanding of their interpretations of their scripts as possible. The designers likewise need to have a firm understanding and interpretation, though they will work in close consultation with their directors, whose visions of the script take precedence.

    Actors need, at a bare minimum, to analyse their characters' mental and emotional goals and motivations, and what part they play in telling the story. But it is better if they have more of an understanding that simply just that which concerns their characters.

    Often during table work for a production the group as a whole works on script analysis.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SDC See STAGE DIRECTORS AND CHOREOGRAPHERS SOCIETY
    SET DRESSING 1) as a noun: items, which the actors/characters do not use or interact with, on the set of a theatre, movie, TV, or video production, that represent or enhance one or more of the sense of location, time (usually as in era), personality of a character or characters, or events in the universe of the script.

    Though set dressing items are set pieces they can usually be considered more as garnishes: both a sofa and the knitted throw that covers its back are set pieces, but the knitted throw is also set dressing, while the sofa generally is not considered such.

    Other set pieces that are also set dressing include, but are not exclusive to, such things as tchotchkes, refrigerator magnets, items on shelves, pictures or paintings on walls, so long as these things are not used by or interacted with by the actors/characters (which would make them props) or are not somehow a focal point of plot for the scene or overall story line. A painting that hangs on the wall of a set and is not attended to by the characters, is set dressing; one that is a topic of conversation or is somehow a relevant item in the story is a prop, even if not physically used by the actors/characters.

    2) as a verb: the act of placing items, which the actors/characters do not use or interact with, on the set of a theatre, movie, TV, or video production, that represent or enhance one or more of the sense of location, time (usually as in era), personality of a character or characters, or events in the universe of the script. The scenic designer will usually have authority over set dressing, and may do the set dressing rather than delegating it to a set dresser.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SET DRESSER
    (AKA: SET DECORATOR)
    A person who decorates a theatrical set with items, which the actors/characters do not use or interact with, that represent or enhance one or more of the sense of location, time (usually as in era), personality of a character or characters, or events in the universe of the script. The set dresser answers to both the scenic designer and the director.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SET PIECE Any piece of stage scenery that stands by itself: furniture items, photos or paintings that hang on the walls, rugs, hanging chandeliers, etc., so long as these things are not used by or interacted with by the actors/characters, which would make them props.

    Some set pieces may also be considered set dressing, usually smaller items such as tchotchkes, househild items, decorations, etc., again, so long as these things are not used by or interacted with by the actors/characters, making them props.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SET STRIKE See STRIKE
    SFX See SOUND EFFECTS
    SHOWCASE A special sort of theatrical performance produced especially to highlight the abilities of performers -- usually actors. Industry professionals, such as agents, managers, producers, directors and casting directors are invited, rarely without a free ticket, to attend the showcase; they often do attend on the search for new talent. A showcase may feature only one performing artist or it may be a program to feature several. Often showcases highlight the work of actors from a recent graduating class in acting or musical theatre from a university. Talent agents and managers will also set up showcases for a member or members of their talent pools; some industrious actors will themselves produce showcases, often in collaboration with peers. Short-term professional acting classes often close with a showcase. Though in the practical sense showcases best feature an actor's stage performance chops, screen actors may do showcases, especially in smaller venues where they can bring down their performances closer to the subtler acting that is required for the camera.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SIDES
    (AKA: ASIDES)
    A portion of a script, usually one or two pages at the most, used in auditions. Though for movies, TV and video, sides usually focus on only one character (for whom an actor is auditioning), for theatre auditions sides are simply a way for the director to easily manage what he or she is using from the script during auditions, and more likely are sections that will give the director a good idea about multiple actors as good fits for respective characters that appear in any given aside -- usually the same set of sides will be used to audition for most if not all characters included in the side.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SIGHT-READING See MUSICAL SIGHT-READING
    SITZPROBE The first time the cast of a musical performs the whole show with a complete orchestra in a rehearsal setting. Until this point in rehearsals, usually only one instrument, most likely the piano, has been used for accompaniment. There is rarely blocking performed and it is usually done toward the end of the staging process. It goal is to coordinate and synchronize the orchestra and the singers.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SL See STAGE LEFT
    SLATE, SLATING, or CLAPBOARD 1) For theatre auditions -- The slate is usually as simple as the actors' names and what songs and/or monologues will be in their audition programs, and sometimes they are expected to name the role they are auditioning for, but more often not. *usually, in community theatres, actors do not slate.

    2) For Camera auditions -- At the top of the audition performance actors give their names, usually the roles being auditioned for, and in many cases the agency that represents them (especially for a video recorded audition), also in many cases the actors must state SAG/AFTRA union affiliation, or lack of such. Sometimes they have a number on a sheet of paper or board that they hold on their chest during the slate, which identifies their spot on an audition list.

    3) For movie, TV, or video productions -- The board with information on it that identifies the title of the production, the names of the director, the director of photography, the scene and take numbers, the date, and the time. It is filmed or video recorded at the top of each take, with the latest take number, date and time. The clapboard has a hinged stick on the top that an AD or PA snaps at the top of the scene to facilitate the synchronization of the sound and visual of the clap snap to ensure the audio and visual information is in sync in the clip of the scene. "Slating" in this context would be the act of shooting the clapboard and snapping the top at the start of the scene.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SOLILOQUY See MONOLOGUE
    SOUND DESIGN The act of identifying and/or conceiving, then securing, manipulating, and/or producing the audio elements of a theatrical play performance, those elements being all of sound effects, production music, and pre-show and intermission music. As well, the sound designer designates such factors as the timing, length, and physical placement of each sound cue. All this based on the dictates and needs of the script as well as in consultation or collaboration with the director.

    Timing reflects what verbal or visual cue the sound technician will use to execute each sound that is run from the sound board and sound equipment in the tech booth, or other production assistants will use to execute practical sound cues from back stage.

    Length means what it suggests: how long the sound lasts.

    Physical placement means from what speaker or speakers or practical prop (phone, radio, etc.) will the sound emanate, or from where will the stagehand cause the practical sound to emanate from in his or her back-stage position.

    Musical theatre productions, as a rule, do not have or need production music, but often need sound effects, and often have pre-recorded pre-show and intermission music.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SOUND DESIGNER Designs the sound plot for a theatre production, noting all the sounds called for in the script, whether it be a sound that is a direct part of the action (a car honking "outside" because the wife is impatient) or ambient sound (birds "in the trees" to help set place and mood), and may determine that sounds not specifically mentioned in the script may also be appropriate -- especially ambient sounds such as office backgrounds or traffic. Whether or not there will be music or other sound in between scenes is also a sound design consideration and the designer will curate such music or sound effects. The curation of pre-show, intermission, and post-show music that plays in the house is also under the purview of the sound designer.

    The sound designer also will have at least some input, if not complete control, as to whether a sound effect is practical (such as a phone that actually rings on stage) or is a pre-recorded sound effect (a sound file of a phone ringing that is played through a speaker).

    The sound designers will usually have a large library of sound effects and may create sounds specifically for a production through new recordings or through mixing two or more sound from their libraries together, or otherwise altering a pre-existing sound file to make it work (slow it down, add reverb, change the treble-bass equalization, etc.) In general terms all this new sound can be called "Foley sound," though strictly speaking, only that which is newly recorded from a practical or organic source is really Foley in the traditional cinematic sense -- movies being where the term comes from.

    The sound designer will also oversee any mechanical engineering or sound wiring and/or cable laying for speakers placed on stage, inside set pieces, or backstage, as well as for any other device that will emit sound, such as a prop phone.

    Sound designers may work in close collaboration with directors, or may bring in their own autonomous sound designs, or various points in between, but, all sound design will be subject to final approval by the directors.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SOUND EFFECTS
    (AKA: SFX)
    Any recorded sound added to a theatre production, or any dramatic enhancement/alteration of sound (electronic or practical) in a theatre production.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SOUND TECHNICIAN
    (AKA: SOUND TECH, SOUND OPERATOR, or SOUND ENGINEER)
    The technical crew member who executes the sound files during a live theatre production. Usually she or he sits in the sound and light both or at a station placed in or toward the back of the theatre hall.

    In most professional and many non-professional settings, the sound tech will follow cues as called by the stage manager, who either will be seated nearby or will communicate over a walkie-talkie system. Otherwise, the sound tech will execute cues by following along in a script with the sound cues marked.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SPECIAL EFFECT
    (AKA: SPFX)
    An artificial visual effect that creates illusion or atmosphere on stage during a theatrical play performance, such as dry-ice fog, strobe lights, objects that appear to move by themselves, an actor attached to a wire so as to appear to fly, fake tattoos, make-up that makes an actor (character) appear wounded or deformed, or any other procedure, technological, mechanical, or manual, that creates a visual illusion on stage.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SPEED-THROUGH REHEARSAL
    (AKA: SPEED-THROUGH)
    A rehearsal where the actors run their lines as quickly as possible, saying the lines as fast as possible and picking up the cues from the ends of the other actors' lines, also as quickly as possible. The purpose is to reinforce memory of the lines/(words).
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    SR See STAGE RIGHT
    STAGE BUSINESS
    (AKA: BUSINESS)
    Actions taken by actors while in place during a scene, such as scribbling in a notepad, combing one's hair, building a model, adjusting clothing, eating or drinking, small gestures, miming dialogue while in a scene as a background player, and any other actions that are performed while in place. Not to be confused with blocking. which is larger movements to reposition the actors' bodies to different places on the stage.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STAGE COMBAT See FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY
    STAGE DIRECTORS AND CHOREOGRAPHERS SOCIETY
    (AKA: SDC)
    An independent American labor union that represents directors and choreographers of professional theatre, that negotiates theatrical contracts with producers and theatres mounting professional productions.

    SEE sdcweb.org.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STAGE LEFT
    (AKA: SL or LEFT)
    1) As a place on stage: The area of the stage that is to actors' (or other performers') left as as they face the audience.

    2) As a Movement on stage: To move stage left (or, left) means the actor or other performer moves directly toward the part of the stage to his or her left, as she or he faces the audience -- usually with no deviation to the front or back of the stage, which would be "down left" or "up left," respectively.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STAGE MANAGER
    (AKA: SM)
    The head of the stage management team in both professional (Equity or non-Equity) and community, or other non-professional, theatre productions. When a production goes into the performance phase, the stage manager is then (in all variety of theatres) in charge of all aspects of the production on stage and back stage, from Opening Curtain to Final Curtain of each performance.

    During pre-production and the rehearsal period, the responsibilities of SM vary greatly between Equity, non-Equity professional, and community theatre and other amateur productions.

    In an Equity house the SM will supervise the scheduling of actors and technicians, make sure all rehearsals adhere to AEA rules about work hours, conditions and breaks. Thus, the SM works closely with the Equity Sargent (an Equity cast member who has been elected as AEA union rep for the production).

    Though PA's or deputy (assistant) stage managers may have the direct duties to execute many or most of these, the SM oversees the recording of all stage directions the director gives each performer, the tracking of all line errors and the dissemination of line notes to the offending actors, the movement, placement and organization of all props, set pieces, and costumes (and costume changes), and all the recording and the error notes for all lighting, sound and special effects cues. In non-Equity professional houses there is rarely deviation from this.

    In community theatres there may be much deviation from this, with the director or assistant director taking responsibility for many of these duties. But, generally, after a show is up, SM's in all categories become the boss.

    In Equity productions, especially on tour, SMs have great influence, and in some cases, the absolute power, toward firing actors and production employees for cause, with the possible exception of performers (actors) with the heavy clout of "Star Power."

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STAGE RIGHT
    (AKA: SR or RIGHT)
    1) As a place on stage: The area of the stage that is to actors' (or other performers') right as as they face the audience.

    2) As a Movement on stage: To move stage right (or, right) means the actor or other performer moves directly toward the part of the stage to his or her right, as she or he faces the audience -- usually with no deviation to the front or back of the stage, which would be "down right" or "up right," respectively.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STAGED READING A theatrical performance of a play where the actors read from the script during the performance. Usually there will be no set nor sound effects, and the lighting will be designed simply to highlight the actors and keep it possible for them to read their scripts. The actors may stay stationary on stage, either seated or standing behind a music stand that holds their scripts (also referred to as a dramatic reading). In other cases they may move about on stage to some extent but with minimal blocking. In rarer cases the staged reading is a full production with a set, full sound and lights, full blocking, with the only deviance from a normal performance being the scripts in the hands of the actors.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STAGING
    (as in "to stage")
    The determination of the different elements that create the actual performance of a theatrical production, including the blocking, the placement of set pieces, the use of props, and the execution of lighting, sound and special effects. All of this orchestrated by the director.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STRAIGHT PLAY A theatrical play script that does not have music and dancing as a common behavior of all or most characters in the play's universe, which the characters do not recognize as separate from other behaviour, such as holding a conversation. Any singing or dancing that might occur in a straight play will be understood by the characters in the play to be such and they will know the actions are separated arts and crafts from normal discourse and behavior.

    IE: in a musical, two lovers singing to each other are simply having a conversation, but in a straight play, they would understand that they are singing to each other as a unique behavior.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STRIKE
    (AKA: SET STRIKE or PROP STRIKE)
    1) As in "Striking the set": the disassembly of a theatrical set after the end of a production run, or in the case of a theatrical tour, at the end of the performance or performances in a particular venue.

    2) As in "Striking a prop, or set piece": to remove a prop or set piece from the stage set during the performance of a show. Usually done by a stage crew member, but sometimes done by an actor. The actor may, in fact, strike the piece during the course of the scene, in character, usually not because the character needs to perform the act, but because it is a strategic way to deal with getting a prop off stage that would otherwise be a problem -- such as the character has been drinking a cup of coffee and that cup must be gone at the top of the next scene so the director tells the actor to "strike it to the sink" during the scene. Most strikes happen between scenes or at the end of acts and are performed by crew members.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    STUMBLE-THROUGH
    (AKA: STUMBLE-THROUGH REHEARSAL)
    The first, or the early attempts by the cast of a theatre production to play scenes off-book during rehearsal. Actors may, during such rehearsals, call for line and a prompter will give the actor in need the first few words of the line he or she is having problems remembering.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    T

    TABLE WORK One or more further table reads of a script after the initial table read, where now the focus is on development of the characters and deeper understandings of the script and its story as a whole. Reads for table work usually go at a much slower pace with many stops and restarts of various moments in the script as the director and the actors work together to discuss and hone the development of character and script analysis. Some directors control all stops for discussion during table work, some invite the actors to also stop the read through at any time.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TABLE READ See READ-THROUGH
    TALKBACK A facilitated conversation that usually takes place after a theatrical performance, between members of the audience and at least one person somehow connected to the production and/or the theatre company. The most usual situation has the playwright present and involved in the talkback; typically the director of the show and the cast participate, as well. Though some talkbacks involve another party from the production or theatre company, who, alone on stage, facilities a discussion about the play and topics and issues the play touches upon. Frequently, talkbacks are Q&A sessions, or have such as a big part of the struture.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TECH BOOTH
    (AKA: SOUND AND LIGHT BOOTH, SOUND BOOTH, LIGHT BOOTH)
    A room, or sometimes an area, usually in the back of a theatre house where the technicians for a play or musical production are stationed during the performances. Usually the light technician and the sound technician are both stationed in or at the tech booth. Often the stage manager is also stationed there and will call the execution of cues to both the light and the sound tech as well communicating, via walkietalkie with the assistant stage manager and/or other production assistants and stage crew about other behind-the-scenes production work that needs to be done during the course of the performance.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TECH CALL The designated time when all those involved in the technical aspects of a theatre production are to report to a rehearsal or a performance.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TECH REHEARSAL or TECHNICAL REHEARSAL
    (but almost always simply "tech rehearsal")
    1) The first rehearsal at the start of Tech Week. It will be one or more types of rehearsals during the rehearsal session where all the technical elements are first incorporated into the rehearsal performances. The day may be comprosed of one or more of a paper tech, a dry tech, a cue-to-cue, then a full tech run.

    In community theatre it is common for this to be the Sunday before the show opens, and is thus know as "Tech Sunday"; professional theatres may have this initial tech day earlier, often the Friday before that last weekend of rehearsals that kick off Tech Week.

    2) All of the following rehearsals, where the technical elements are also incorporated into the rehearsal performances can also be referred to as "tech rehearsals," as well as "dress rehearsals" or "tech/dress rehearsals."

    3) "Tech" can also refer to the technical elements themselves, as in, "Let's run this section without (or with) tech."

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TECH RUN A full-run rehearsal that includes all the technical aspects of lights, sound, special effects and all set changes, with the possible exception of costume changes. There may be stops and starts as various technical problems are indentified and addressed. Typically the tech run is done on the first tech rehearsal day (Tech Sunday for many theatres, especially community theatres).
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TECH SUNDAY
    (usually associated with non-professional theatres, i.e.:community theatres)
    The Sunday rehearsal day at the start of Tech Week. Tech Sunday will be one or more rehearsals where all the technical elements are first incorporated into the rehearsal performances. The day may be comprised of one or more of a paper tech, a dry tech, a cue-to-cue, then a full tech run. "Tech Sunday" is traditional for many community theatres; professional theatres may have this initial tech day earlier, often the Friday before that last weekend of rehearsals that kick off Tech Week.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TECH WEEK The last several rehearsals (the Dress Rehearsals) before Opening Night or before Preview performances in which all the technical aspects of lights, sound, special effects and all set changes and costume changes are done, I.E.: the show is run as if it was a performance in front of an audience; there will be no stops unless something goes amiss. Sometimes the rehearsals in the first part of the week do not require the costuming, so those would be only Tech Rehearsals -- that will usually be at the community theatre level; professional productions will rarely, if ever, exclude costumes or make-up during Tech Week.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TECHNICAL DIRECTOR 1) As contracted or brought in for a specific theatre production, a technical director oversees technical aspects of a production, especially concerned with elaborate special effects or audio/visual needs that are outside the norm for productions. The technical director may or may not oversee the basic lighting and sound for the show, but any extraordinary special effects (such as fly wires, or trap doors) that have special safety concerns will usually fall under the authority of a technical director. Technical directors will usually oversee extraordinary audio/visual technologies employed by a production -- those that are more sophisticated and may need more technical expertise. Regional theatres usually have a technical director on permanent staff (see next), and other professional theatre productions usually engage a technical director who broadly oversees all technical aspects. Non-professional theatres (such as community theatres) usually only have a technical director when one or more of the extraordinary situations described above are present.

    2) As a resident staff member at a professional regional theatre, the technical director, as well as usually taking on all duties as described in "1)," above for all shows produced at the theatre, she or he also ensures that all the technical equipment is consistently in working order and properly maintained, and oversees the safety concerns for all technical equipment. Inventory and all technical schematics for all equipment, lighting, sound, etc., are his or her responsibility, too. The staff technical director will work with the contracted designers and production crews for all productions mounted at the theatre and will be in charge of organizing all set strikes and the accompanying clean-ups for all productions.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TEN OUT OF TWELVE Almost exclusively a professional theatre term and practice, a "Ten Out of Twelve" is a tech rehearsal, where the Actors are called for a twelve-hour span with either two one-hour dinner breaks or one two-hour dinner break. The actors work ten hours out of the twelve-hour call. This comes out of Actors Equity Association rules, as most Equity contracts limit technical rehearsal calls for actors to five hours.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TRIPPLE THREAT A theatre performer who can sing well, dance well and act well. Tripple threats are bankable and more employable on the stage because they can be cast in any sort of stage production. Having tripple-threat skills is an advantage in breaking onto the Broadway stage as well as getting work in touring companies, since musical productions are heavy on the menu, almost exclusively for tours, in fact.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TRUCK
    (as in a set platform)
    (AKA: PLATFORM TRUCK, SET TRUCK, WAGON, PLATFORM WAGON, or SET WAGON)
    A portion of a theatrical set that is mounted on a wheeled platform that can be moved on and off stage or turned in order to change the appearance of the stage area. Such change will indicate one or both of change of place and/or time. The structures on the truck may represent such things as a room or place in a building, or some sort of outside setting. Trucks are often moved manually by stage hands, but sometimes may be motorized. Often trucks will have two or more different set locations on different sides and will be rotated the appropriate amount of degrees during scene changes to move to the next location in the story.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    TWO-HANDER A theatrical play with only two cast members, and usually only two characters on stage.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    U

    UC See UP CENTER
    UL See UP LEFT
    UNITED SCENIC ARTISTS
    (AKA: UNITED SCENIC ARTISTS LOCAL USA 829)
    An American labor union that represents professional entertainment designers, artists, and craftspeople that negotiates theatrical contracts with producers and theatres mounting professional productions.

    See www.usa829.org.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    UP See up stage
    UP CENTER
    (AKA: UC)
    The center area of the farthest section of the stage from the audience.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    UP LEFT
    (AKA: UL, USL, or UP STAGE LEFT)
    1) As a place on stage: the area of the stage that is farthest from the audience and from the actors' (or other performers') perspective is the left section as they face the audience.

    2) As a movement on stage: to move up left means the actor or other performer moves toward the part of the stage farthest from the audience at a leftward angle, from said performer's perspective as he or she faces the audience.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    UP RIGHT
    (AKA: UR, USR, or UP STAGE RIGHT)
    1) As a place on stage: the area of the stage that is farthest from the audience and from the actors' (or other performers') perspective is the right section as they face the audience.

    2) As a movement on stage: to move up right means the actor or other performer moves toward the part of the stage farthest from the audience at a rightward angle, from said performer's perspective as he or she faces the audience.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    USL See up left
    USR See UP RIGHT
    UP STAGE
    (AKA: US or UP)
    1) As a place on stage: the back of the stage, the area farthest from the audience.

    2) As a movement on stage: to move up stage (or, up) means the actor or other performer moves directly toward the part of the stage farthest from the audience -- usually with no deviation to the left or right, which would be "up left" or "up right," respectively.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    UP STAGE LEFT See UP LEFT
    UP STAGE RIGHT See UP RIGHT
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    V

    VIDEO CALL The designated time when particular cast members are to be at a designated location for video recording for promotional purposes. Usually the actors are performing copyright-cleared portions of the play or musical, but may also be commentary in nature. Usually the performances are performed on the theatre set.

    If the production is an Actors' Equity Association project, the actors will be, by contract, paid for their appearance in the video.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    VIEWPOINTS A technique of movement exercises and games (wholly or partially improvisational) that provides a physical vocabulary for actors, involving movement and gesture. The basic precept is to engage an ensemble, or even a dou, of actors in becoming in tune to their surroundings (the space) on the stage or set and their connectivity to each other in that space. It's a method of helping the actors use their bodies in time and space to create, reach, and communicate more meaning in the universe of the story they are telling on the stage or screen.

    See "A Brief History of Viewpoints."

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    VOCAL PHRASING The manner in which vocalists sing the notes of a melody as well as the manner in which they pronounce the words. It includes any or all of the singers placement in their vocal register from their diaphragms to the roof of their mouths, whether they are using falsetto (method of voice production to sing notes higher than one's normal range -- such as how male tenors sing their highest notes), how they fluctuate the notes, the rhythm and timing of both the notes and the rests in between notes, amount of enunciation used, the quality they use in their voices, how much, if any vibrato (the vibration of the vocal cords to create a pulse), and other manipulation of the mouth, throat or diaphragm is utilized.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    VOICE-OVER
    (AKA: VO)
    1) In a theatre production: any recorded voice that is played during a live performance.

    2) In a movie, TV, or video production: In general terms. a voice-over is any voice heard where the actor or spokesman is not on screen. Usually it means that the person is not intended to be considered physically present in the action being seen on screen. It is a voice from a TV, radio, phone, or an answering macine. It may also be a voice in an on-screen character's mind, such as the voice of the person who has written the letter we see the character reading, or it's a poignant remembrance. Lastly, it is narration or informational speaking by someone not on camera and not suggested as in the scene but out of frame.

               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    W

    WAGON
    (AKA: PLATFORM WAGON, or SET WAGON)
    See TRUCK
    WANDELPROBE A musical rehearsal for cast and the orchestra where blocking is introduced, especially dance choreography. Though musical issues between the singers and the orchestra are still worked on, it's a chance to focus on coordination between the instrumentation and dance and other movement during the said instrumentation. Similar to "cue to cue" rehearsals, usually only the moments on stage relevant to the goal are worked, IE: portions of scenes or whole scenes without music are skipped.
               *Hit your browser's back button to return to your original page
    WENT UP See GOING UP
    go to the alphabetical index for this page

    K.L.'s Film, Television, and Video Production Terms

    email me at KL_Storer@yahoo.com. And visit www.facebook.com/klstorer



    For the index of K.L.'s creative writing and essays at this site, click here.