Glossary of Theatrical Terms

Eternity
The time that passes between a dropped cue and the next line

Prop
A hand-carried object small enough to be lost by an actor 30 seconds before it is needed on stage

Director
The individual who suffers from the delusion that he or she is responsible for every moment of brilliance cited by the critic in the local review

Blocking
The art of moving actors on the stage in such a manner as not to collide with the walls, the furniture, the orchestra pit or each other. Similar to playing chess, except that the pawns want to argue with you.

Blocking Rehearsal
A rehearsal taking place early in the production schedule where actors frantically write down movements which will be nowhere in evidence by opening night

Quality Theatre
Any show with which you were directly involved

Turkey
Every show with which you were not directly involved

Dress rehearsal
Rehearsal that becomes a whole new ball game as actors attempt to manoeuvre among the 49 objects that the set designer added at 7:30 that evening

Tech week
The last week of rehearsal when everything that was supposed to be done weeks before finally comes together at the last minute; reaches its grand climax on dress rehearsal night when costumes rip, a dimmer pack catches fire and the director has a nervous breakdown. Also known as hell week.

Set
An obstacle course which, throughout the rehearsal period, defies the laws of physics by growing smaller week by week while continuing to occupy the same amount of space

Dark Night
The night before opening when no rehearsal is scheduled so the actors and crew can go home and get some well-deserved rest, and instead spend the night staring sleeplessly at the ceiling because they’re sure they needed one more rehearsal

Dark Spot
An area of the stage which the lighting designer has inexplicably forgotten to light, and which has a magnetic attraction for the first-time actor. A dark spot is never evident before opening night.

Stage Manager
Individual responsible for overseeing the crew, supervising the set changes, baby-sitting the actors and putting the director in a hammerlock to keep him from killing the actor who just decided to turn his walk-on part into a major role by doing magic tricks while he serves the tea

Lighting Director
Individual who, from the only vantage point offering a full view of the stage, gives the stage manager a heart attack by announcing a play-by-play of everything that’s going wrong

Stage Crew
Group of individuals who spend their evenings coping with 50-minute stretches of total boredom interspersed with 30-second bursts of mindless panic

Bedroom Farce
Any play which requires various states of undress on stage and whose set sports a lot of doors. The lukewarm reviews, all of which feature the phrase “typical community theatre fare” in the opening paragraph, are followed paradoxically by a frantic attempt to schedule more performances to accommodate the overflow crowds.

Assistant Director
Individual willing to undertake special projects that nobody else would take on a bet, such as working one-on-one with the brain-dead actor whom the rest of the cast has threatened to take out a contract on.

Set Piece
Any large piece of furniture which actors will resolutely use as a safety shield between themselves and the audience, in an apparent attempt to both anchor themselves to the floor, thereby avoiding floating off into space, and to keep the audience from seeing that they actually have legs

Strike
The time immediately following the last performance while all cast and crew members are required to stay and dismantle, or watch the two people who own cordless screw drivers dismantle, the set.

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