Theatre Lingo


Ad Lib An actor making up lines not originally written.
Apron Part of the stage that is past the curtain line and closest to the audience.
Blocking Physical movement of the actors during a show.
Body Mike These are portable microphones that actors wear hidden on their bodies to amplify their voices.
Booth Room where the light board, sound board and CD player operators run the show.
Break a Leg A way of wishing an actor well before going onstage without breaking the superstitious injunction against saying the words "good luck."
Call Time an actor is required to be in the theatre before a show.
Calling The Show Stage manager's directions given to the crew throughout a performance to ensure everything takes place at the right moment.
Cattle Call An open audition where several actors show up to get a five minute audition.
Coo To talk fondly or appreciatively.
Cues An actor's cue is the line that comes before yours.  To "pick up the cues" means to shorten the space between lines and quicken the pace of a scene.
Curtain Call Reappearance of the cast after the end of the play during which they acknowledge the audience's applause.
Downstage On the stage closer to the audience.
Exit Line Last line spoken by an actor before leaving the stage.
Fly Space Area above the stage where scenery is hung.  The rigging system is counterweighted and balanced to keep the heavy scenery safely suspended high in the air.
Gel A color filter for a lighting instrument made of heat-resistant colored resin used to change the color of the lighting.
Gobo A thin metal plate that has had a design cut into its center, which can then be projected by a lighting instrument.
Grid Area above the stage where all the stage lights are located.
House Part of the theatre where the audience sits.
Money Note The strongest note in an actor's singing range.
Off Book Point in the rehearsals when actors need to know all their lines and are no longer allowed to carry their scripts.
Orchestra Seating typically located underneath the stage for the musicians.
Pit Lowered area in front of the stage where the orchestra musicians play.
Props Short for "properties."  All articles on stage except the scenery.
Proscenium The arch that forms a frame at the front of a stage.
Running Time Length of time it takes to perform the play, not including intermissions.
Shtick A sure-fire piece of “business,” also known as stage action, that gets a laugh or applause from the audience.
Stage Left To the actor's left when they are facing the audience.  From the audience, stage left is the right side of the stage.
Stage Right To the actor's right when they are facing the audience.  From the audience, stage right is the left side of the stage.
Tech Night Rehearsal during which all physical elements of the production and all performed elements come together.
Understudy An actor who learns the lines and blocking of one of the principal characters in the play.  Should one of the principal actors be unable to perform, the understudy would step in at a moment's notice.
Upstage On the stage away from the audience towards the back wall.
Wings Area just offstage on both sides where actors enter and exit the stage.