Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Simple Explanations of Theater Terms For Non-Theater People

Simple Explanations of Theater Terms For Non-Theater People


Hi there!  Just dipping your toe onto "the boards" for the first time?  You may hear a lot of phrases you’re unfamiliar with.  I put together this handy thesaurus.  I didn’t alphabetize it because I’m a theater person and you might find we do things a little different in these parts.  If you want to be perceived as “in the know,” (and who doesn’t), learn these simple theater phrases.  Amaze your friends and make your enemies jealous!  No enemies?  You’ll have some now.  Welcome to theater!

Ghost light --  It is well known among theatre-types that all theaters are haunted.  Ghost light refers to the natural light given off by your theater’s ghost.

Stage Right and Stage Left – Every theater person knows this well.  It refers to the direction the Stage Manager is facing.  Stage Right and Stage Left is always the Stage Manager’s right and left.

“To go up” – This refers to the ability of certain performers to say the end of their line in a high pitched shriek.  It is the sign of a seasoned performer.

“Standing O”  --At the end of a successful performance, a performer may orgasm while bowing.  Remaining standing while having an orgasm is a sign of a professional.

“The Scottish Play” – This is a certain play by Mr. William Shakespeare about a Danish prince that must never be spoken of aloud, because the theater will burn down.  It will burn down.  Don’t even think it.

The Green Room –This is the backstage room in which everyone but you is probably having sex right now.

Gobo – Refers to Gobo Shaw, also George Bernard Shaw, godfather of the modern theater.

Proscenium – A scene shop run by pros.

Vom --  The hybrid voles/mice that live in the costume shop.

“Line”  -- Something an actor may shout during a rehearsal.  It’s good luck.  It means “Line my cage with gilded guilders.  May this play make us all rich.”  It is good manners to pretend the actor has not said this.  Live in the silence until something new happens.

“off book” – When an actor says they are “off book,” they are saying they made up something new and are going to surprise everybody with words they wrote that are not in the script or “book.”

A.D.  – This is the accent director.  Try out all the accents you are working on when you speak to them.  They will appreciate it.

Gaffe tape – A recording of all the mistakes everyone makes during the show to be played at the cast party to embarrass everyone.

“10 out of 12” – This is the practice of casting 12 actors when you only need 10 and letting them snipe and fight to stay in the cast.

Blocking – Like in hockey or football this means preventing someone from moving the way they are trying to move.  It is hilarious and oft practiced onstage on opening night.

Dramaturg – A turg of the drama, thus drama-turg.

Cheating Out – Just another way to say “mooning the audience.”

“Going dark” – This means, “I’m about to say something pretty bleak right now about my life. But I’m going to warn you first.”  Usually the lights go off right before this confession to prevent embarrassment.

Raked Stage– Once upon a time stages were raked, meaning there was someone whose job was to rake leaves off the stage.  These days it refers to a stage that is filthy on purpose.  Feel free to leave your trash onstage, especially cigarette butts.

Spotlight—Really?  You don’t know what a spotlight is?


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