Various Terms used in the Theater
The person who appears on stage to perform the role in the script.
AntagonistThe person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with the main character (protagonist) in a play.
ApronThe downstage portion of the stage in front of the proscenium arch.
AsideThe acting device in which a character speaks his/her thoughts aloud unheard by other characters onstage at the same time. (also called “mugging”)
BlackoutStage goes to complete black; the blackout lighting cue is often used for a startling effect at the end of a scene.
BlockingThe recorded (written down) pattern of an actors’ movement on the stage.
Box SetA two- or three- (or more) walled set representing the interior of a room.
CallbackA selected group of actors who are asked to return for a final audition.
CharacterA role played by an actor using body and/or voice.
The art of developing the character (e.g., his/her life, emotions, choices, motivations, objectives).
A mannerism or approach to a situation that has been used many times before.
The ultimate moment in the play for the characters (but mostly the pivotal moment for the protagonist’s journey)
Opposition in a scene. Can be person v. person, person v. object, person v. environment, person v. society, or person v. self….etc.
CostumeAny clothing or article of clothing that an actor wears that helps define the character and furthers the story.
Honest feedback on writing or performance. What did work, what didn’t work, what we saw, and what we didn’t see…with an intention to find meaning in the work and have discussion on the effect of the piece.
A prearranged signal to enter or exit the stage, or to begin or end an action, stage business, dialogue, light, sound, or set changes.
Curtain (main drape, legs, teasers)A fabric drop that is used to divide areas of the stage and to block the audience’s view backstage
The white curtain hung on the furthest upstage batten as a backdrop used for lighting effects.
The solution of the conflict in the play, the untangling of the complications and conflict between the antagonist and protagonist.
Two or more characters speaking with each other.
DirectorPerson responsible for the coordination, guidance, and development of all aspects of a production so that the performance represents a unified vision.
A in-progress, but "working" version of a script.
As part of dramatic structure, the information that is often presented at the beginning of the play. Here the playwright may set the atmosphere and tone, explain the setting, introduce the characters, and provide the audience with any other information necessary to understand the plot.
Falling ActionThe action after an important hurdle in the plot is achieved.
The on stage rope and pulley system used to bring the battens in and out.
The invisible, imagined, or implied wall through which the audience see the performance.
Remaining motionless in frozen pose (as in a photograph or sculpture).
A movement that expresses or emphasizes a feeling or idea.
The given information which sets up the situation of the scene. (ie. Time, location, weather, character defect, etc)
The area of the theater the audience sits to watch the show.
A spontaneous performance in which the actor simultaneously performs and creates dramatic material.
Intention (Objective)What your character wants in the scene.
The reason your character performs a particular action.
The instrumentation and equipment used to create on stage light effects.
Lights FadeA common stage direction to end a scene.
A dramatic form, using exaggerated suspense, romance, and sensational plot twists, which generally ends happily.
MonologueA section of the play spoken by one actor as either part of a scene or alone on stage.
The barriers that prevent characters from doing what they want to do.
Creating an imaginary object, situation or character through hand and body movement.
A person who writes a play.
Describes the action of a play and sequence of events.
Events in the play occurring before the scene or entrance of a character.
The items an actor holds on stage. (picks up, carries, drops off, eats, drinks, or consumes)
The leading character in a play.
The arch over the stage which separates the stage apron from the rest of the playing area. In a proscenium theatre, the audience sits in front of the stage.
The events of a play leading up to the climax; the creation of conflict; the entanglement of forces.
Run ThroughRehearsal technique in which actors go through the complete performance from beginning to end without stopping.
SceneA subdivision of an act in a dramatic presentation in which the setting is fixed and the time continuous.
Scenery (the “set”)The constructed elements of a show that helps to relay the story’s location(s) to the audience
The person in charge of the paint application on the set.
The original text of an author’s work.
Pages of a script containing only the lines and cues of a specific role to be learned by a performer.
When a character is alone on stage and speaks, usually directly to the audience.
The instrumentation and equipment used to create an auditory landscape or to help amplify a show.
Stage left and stage right (left and right from the actor’s point of view as he/she faces the audience). Upstage (the part of a proscenium stage farthest away from the audience). Downstage (the part of a proscenium stage that is closest to the audience). Center stage (the middle of the stage).
Stage DirectionsInstructions in the text of a play for the actor (e.g. entrances, exits or significant actions) and stage crew (e.g. lights fade).
SubtextThe information (i.e., thoughts and motivations) that are implied but not spoken by the character. Subtext may be revealed through actions, movement and interaction of the character as created by an actor.
TableauA frozen picture on stage.
The person in charge of all of the technical aspects of the show. (ie. Set, lights, sound, costumes, make-up…etc)
The playwright’s message through the text of the play.
A shift from one emotional state or idea to another. Can also be moments of change necessary to go from scene to scene, act to act, or place to place.
UnderstudyThe actor who is required to learn the lines and blocking of another actor in case of the lead’s absence.
A director’s plan. Creating a cohesive look and feel with the production, and uniting all the members of the staff in that viewpoint.
An aisle in the house.
A series of vocal and/or movement exercises to prepare for rehearsal or performance.
Scenery on wheels.
The offstage areas to the right and left of the set used as entrances but concealing backstage areas.