ACCENT

A way of speaking used in a local area or country

ACTING AREA

That area within the performance space within which the actor may move in full view of the audience.

Also known as the playing area

ACTING STYLE

A particular manner of acting which reflects cultural and historical influences

ACTION

The movement or development of the plot or story in a play; the sense of forward movement created by the sense of time and/or the physical and psychological motivations of characters

APRON

The area between the front curtain and the edge of the stage

ANALYSIS

In responding to dramatic art, the process of examining how the elements of drama – literary, technical, and performance – are used

ANTAGONIST

The opponent or adversary of the hero or main character of a drama; one who opposes and actively competes with another character in a play, most often with the protagonist

ARENA STAGE

Type of stage without a frame or arch separating the stage from the auditorium, in which the audience surrounds the stage area

ARTICULATION

The clarity or distinction of speech

ASIDE

Lines spoken by an actor to the audience and not supposed to be overheard by other characters on stage

AUDIENCE

People watching the drama

AUDIENCE AWARENESS

Being aware as an actor of where your audience is during the performance to ensure you act towards them

AUDITORIUM

The area for the audience, usually filled with seats

BACK PROJECTION

A method of projecting images onto a translucent screen from behind.

Often used for projected scenery or special effects.

Because the projector is usually close to the screen, special lenses are needed to ensure that the image seen by the audience is large enough.

BACKDROP

A flat surface the width of the stage, hung upstage of the acting area, upon which scenery is usually painted

BACKLIGHT

Light coming from upstage, behind scenery or actors, to sculpt and separate them from the background

BACKSTAGE

Non-acting area behind the stage

BALANCE

Keeping an even distribution of weight

BODY LANGUAGE

Messages given by the position or movement of the body

BARN DOORS

A rotatable attachment consisting of two or four metal flaps (hinged) which is fixed to the front of a Fresnel spotlight to cut off the beam in a particular direction(s)

BLACKOUT

A lighting cue where all stage lights go off simultaneously

Slow Fade to: the lighting/sound is faded out slowly.

Fast Fade to: the lighting/sound is faded out quickly.

Snap to: blackout is achieved instantly.

BLOCKING

The path formed by the actor’s movement on stage, usually determined by the director with assistance from the actor, and often written down in a script using commonly accepted theatrical symbols

BOX SET

A set with three walls and a ceiling, leaving the fourth wall to be imagined by the actors.

The box set represents a real room with doors and windows that work.

CATHARSIS

A theory advocated by Aristotle in his Poetics which attempts to describe the feeling of release felt by the audience at the end of a tragedy; the audience experiences catharsis, or is set free from the emotional hold of the action, after experiencing strong emotions and sharing in the protagonist’s troubles

CENTRE STAGE

(CS) – The centre area of the stage

CENTRE STAGE LEFT

(CSL)The left hand centre side of the acting area as the actor faces the audience

 

CENTRE STAGE RIGHT

(CSR) – The right hand centre side of the acting area as the actor faces the audience

CHARACTER

A person portrayed in a drama, novel, or other artistic piece

CHARACTERISATION

How an actor uses body, voice, and thought to develop and portray a character

CHOREOGRAPHY

The movement of actors and dancers to music in a play

CHORUS

A group of performers who sing, dance, or recite in unison.

In Greek drama, the chorus was the group of performers who sang and danced between episodes, narrated off-stage action, and commented on events.

CLARITY

Clearness of the voice

CLIMAX

The point of greatest intensity in a series or progression of events in a play, often forming the turning point of the plot and leading to some kind of resolution

CLOTH

A piece of scenic canvas, painted or plain that is flown or fixed to hang in a vertical position

BACKCLOTH

(or backdrop) hangs at the rear of a scene

FLOORCLOTH

A painted canvas sheet placed on the stage floor to mark out the acting area, or to achieve a particular effect

COMEDY

A play that treats characters and situations in a humorous way.

In Shakespeare’s time, a comedy was any play with a happy ending that typically told the story of a likeable character’s rise to fortune. In ancient Greece, comedies dealt almost exclusively with contemporary figures and problems.

Low comedy is physical rather than intellectual comedy; high comedy is more sophisticated, emphasizing verbal wit more than physical action.

 

CONCENTRATION

The actor’s focus, also called centering; focusing on the work at hand, being in character, or being in the moment

CONFLICT

The internal or external struggle between opposing forces, ideas, or interests that creates dramatic tension

CONTRAST

Dynamic use of opposites, such as movement/stillness, sound/silence, and light/darkness

CONVENTIONS

Different techniques that are used in presenting the drama (flashback, flashforward, sill image, mime, monologue, movement, slow motion, narration, voice over, aside soliloquy, tableau)

COSTUME

Clothes worn by actors for their character

CREATING

The process of developing a drama’s content and roles through practical exploration, experimentation and problem solving

CROSS FADE

Bringing another lighting state up to completely replace the current lighting state. Also applies to sound effects/music. Sometimes abbreviated to Xfade or XF.

CUE

A signal from an actor to do or say something, or for a lighting or sound effect to begin or end

CUE bIte

oNE CUE LINKS SMOOTHLY WITH THE OTHER

CYCLORAMA

A fabric drop hung from a curved or segmented batten, or a curved wall at the back of the stage, upon which light can be cast to create effects (cyc for short)

DEVELOPMENT

Progression of the plot or conflict in a play

DIALOGUE

Spoken conversation used by two or more characters to express thoughts, feelings, and actions

DOCU DRAMA

A documentary style drama, including reconstructions of events

DRESS REHEARSAL

Final rehearsal of a drama with all the theatre arts

DYNAMIC

The energetic range of, or variations within physical movement or the difference between levels of sound

EMPHASIS

The stress on a word or phrase

ENTER

To come on stage

END ON

Traditional audience seating layout where the audience is looking at the stage from the same direction.

This seating layout is that of a proscenium arch theatre.

ENSEMBLE

The dynamic interaction and harmonious blending of the efforts of the many artists involved in the dramatic activity of theatrical production

EVALUATE

To judge the strengths and weaknesses of a drama

EXIT

To leave the acting area

EXPOSITION

The part of a play that introduces the theme, chief characters, and current circumstances

FACIAL EXPRESSION

Look on face which shows emotions

FLASHFORWARD

Acting out of a future or imagined event

FARCE

An extreme form of comedy that depends on quick tempo and flawless timing and is characterised by improbable events and farfetched coincidences; from the French meaning ‘to stuff’

FLASHBACK

In a non-linear plot, to go back in time to an event in the past

FLAT

A wooden frame, usually covered with painted cloth, used to create walls or separations on stage.

Can be joined together with other flats.

FLUENCY

Natural, flowing speech

FLOOD / FLOOD LANTERN

To wash the stage with general lighting.

The name given to a basic box-shaped lantern with a simple reflector used to achieve this effect.

FOCUS

In lighting, the adjustment of the size and shape of a stage light and/or the direction in which it is aimed.

In acting, the act of concentrating/staying in character or key moment, character, relationship or event in a drama.

FOLLOW SPOT

Powerful profile used to follow actors around the acting area

FORM

The overall style of the drama

FOURTH WALL

The invisible wall of a set through which the audience sees the action of the play

FRESNEL SPOTLIGHT

Adjustable spotlight giving a diffused light, created by the construction of its lens of ‘concentric circles’ (used with Barn doors)

FRONT OF HOUSE

Any job in the theatre which involves dealing with the audience (box office, refreshments, usher)

GAUZE

See-through material which cannot be seen through when lit from the front, but can be seen through when lit from behind

G-CLAMP

Clamp used to secure lantern to lighting bar or stand

GEL

Film placed in front of a lantern to change the colour of the beam

GENRE

A category of literary or dramatic composition; drama is a literary genre. Drama is further divided into tragedy, comedy, farce, and melodrama, and these genres, in turn, can be subdivided

GESTURE

Any movement of the actor’s head, shoulder, arm, hand, leg, or foot to convey meaning

GOBO

Thin metal place cut out in a pattern and placed in a lantern to project pattern or shape onto the acting space

GROUND PLAN

A bird’s eye view of the set, showing furniture, entrances/exits and the position of the audience

GROUNDROW

Compartmentalised floodlights set up on the stage floor so as to allow colour mixing.

Commonly used to light curtains and for colour washes.

HAND PROPS

Properties such as tools, weapons, or luggage that are carried on stage by an individual actor

HOT-SEATING

Questioning a character in role

HOUSE LIGHTS

The lights that illuminate the auditorium before and after the performance and during intermission

INTONATION

Rising and falling of voice in speech

IMAGING

A technique which allows performers to slow down and focus individually on an issue.

The performers, sitting quietly with eyes closed, allow pictures to form in their minds.

These images may be motivated by bits of narration, music, sounds, smells, etc.

IMPROVISATION

The spontaneous use of movement and speech to create a character or object in a particular situation; acting done without a script

INFELCTION

Change in pitch or loudness of the voice

 

INTERACTION

The action or relationship among two or more characters

IRONY

An implied discrepancy between what is said and what is meant. There are several forms of irony

DRAMATIC IRONY

When the audience perceives something that a character does not know

SITUATIONAL IRONY

This can be described as a discrepancy between expected results and the actual results

ISOLATION

Control of isolated body parts; the ability to control or move one part of the body independently of the rest

KEY

Explanation of symbols on a ground plan

LANGUAGE

In drama, the particular manner of verbal expression, the diction or style of writing, or the speech or phrasing that suggests a class or profession or type of character

LANTERN

The generic term for a stage spotlight

MANNERISM

A peculiarity of speech or behavior

LEVELS

Physical levels of actors on the stage help to indicate status.

One character may be on a higher piece of staging or platform, or it may simply be that one character is standing and another is sitting.

It is usually easier to play the dominant, more powerful character if you are on a higher level.

LIGHT SET

A term used to describe a situation where no physical set is used on stage.

The ‘set’ is created entirely by means of lighting.

MAKE-UP

Worn by actors for their character, but also essential under stage lighting

MASKING

One actor unintentionally preventing another from being seen by the audience

MASKS

Covering for all, or part, of the face. Greatly used in Greek theatre, worn by the Chorus

MELODRAMA

A style of play, which originated in the 19th century, relying heavily on sensationalism and sentimentality.

Melodramas tend to feature action more than motivation, stock characters, and a strict view of morality in which good triumphs over evil.

MIME

Acting without words, stylised form of movement which creates an illusion of reality

MIRRORING

Copying the movement and/or expression or look of someone else exactly

MONOLOGUE

A long speech made by one actor; a monologue may be delivered alone or in the presence of others

MOOD

The tone or feeling of the play, often engendered by the music, setting, or lighting

MUSICAL

Drama which includes song and/or music

MOTIVATION

The reason or reasons for a character’s behaviour; an incentive or inducement for further action for a character

MOVEMENT

Stage blocking or the movements of the actors onstage during performance; also refers to the action of the play as it moves from event to event

NARRATION

Part(s) of the drama are told as a story by a narrator

NATURALISM

A style of drama that developed in the late 19th century as an attempt to represent real life on stage faithfully and without artifice; the actions of characters tend to be dominated by determinism (societal or environmental forces)

PACE

Rate of movement or speed of action

PANTOMIME

Christmas theatrical entertainment usually based on a fairy tale

PAUSE

A break in speaking, period of silence

PERFORMANCE

Presenting of a drama to an audience

PERFORMANCE ELEMENTS

Includes acting (e.g. character motivation and analysis, empathy), speaking (breath control, vocal expression and inflection, projection, speaking style, diction), and non-verbal expression (gestures, body alignment, facial expression, character blocking, movement)

PERSONAL PROPS

Small props that are usually carried in an actor’s costume, such as money or a pen

PITCH

The particular level (high or low) of a voice, instrument or tune

PLAY

Another word for a drama

PLAYWRIGHT

Person who has written a play (the author)

PLOT

The events of a play or arrangement of action, as opposed to the theme

PLOT DEVELOPMENT

The organisation or building of the action in a play

POSTURE

Physical alignment of a performer’s body, or a physical stance taken by a performer which conveys information about the character being played

PRESENTING

The results of the Creating process, including performance and evaluation

PROFILE LANTERN

A focusable spotlight having an ellipsoidal lens which enables a sharp-edged beam of light to be projected

PROMENADE

Audience follows the action on foot, moving from one location to another

PROMPT

To give actors their lines as a reminder; the prompter is the one who assists actors in remembering their lines

PROMPT COPY

Master copy of the script with all moves and technical effects included

PROMPT SIDE

Left hand side of the stage where prompter and stage manager sit during performance

PROPS

Short for properties; any article, except costume or scenery, used as part of a dramatic production; any moveable object that appears on stage during a performance

PROSCENIUM

A frame or arch separating the stage from the auditorium.

The proscenium opening was of particular importance to the Realistic playwrights of the 19th century, such as Ibsen and Shaw, for whom it was a picture frame or an imaginary fourth wall through which the audience experienced the illusion of spying on characters.

PROTAGONIST

The main character or hero in a play or other literary work

PROXEMICS

Contemporary term for ‘spatial relationships’ referring to spatial signifiers of the relationship between different performers or a performer and elements of the set which convey information about character and circumstances

PYROTECHNICS

Stage fireworks

PARODY

A mocking or satirical imitation of a literary or dramatic work

RAKE

Slope of stage (to allow actors to be seen)

REACTING

Remember, the audience is always watching you so it is important to react to what is panning on stage by reacting to what the other characters are saying and doing.

This can be achieved by use of body language and facial expressions.

RHYTHM

Measured flow of words or phrases in verse forming patterns of sound. Regularity in time or space of an action, process or feature

REVOLVING STAGE

A stage which turns in a circle

REALISM

An attempt in theatre to represent everyday life and people as they are or appear to be through careful attention to detail in character motivation, costume, setting, and dialogue.

REHEARSAL

Practice or preparation of a drama

REHEARSED

Drama devised/created without a script which is rehearsed improvisation before presentation

RESOLUTION

How the problem or conflict in a drama is solved or concluded

RITUAL

A prescribed form or ceremony; drama grew out of religious ritual

ROLE

The character portrayed by an actor in a drama

ROLE ON THE WALL

A technique used to help you, and others actors, very quickly gain an impression of who your character is and how they feel.

Draw an outline of a person with facts about them on the outside of the body and their emotions on the inside, and then stick it on the wall next to other characters.

ROLE PLAYING

Improvising movement and dialogue to put oneself in another’s place in a particular situation, often to examine the person(s) and/or situation(s) being improvised

ROSTRA

Blocks or platforms used to create levels

SAFETY CHAIN

Used to attach a lantern to the lighting bar for safety (incase the G-Clamp fails)

SATIRE

A play in which sarcasm, irony, and ridicule are used to expose or attack folly or pretension in society

SCENARIO

Outline of the plot of a drama, including changes in time or place

SCENE

A small section or portion of a play, set in one place at one time

SCENERY

The theatrical equipment, such as curtains, flats, backdrops, or platforms, used in a dramatic production to communicate environment

SCRIPT

The written words of a drama

SET

The physical surroundings, visible to the audience, in which the action of the play takes place

SET DESIGNER

The person who designs the physical surroundings in which the action of the play takes place

SET PROP

An item placed on the set, usually part of it (lamp, clock, picture)

SETTING

When and where the action of a play takes place

SIGHTLINES

Imaginary lines of sight that determine what areas of the stage are visible to the audience from any given seat in the house

SLOW MOTION

Movements performed at a slowed down speed to heighten dramatic impact

SOLILOQUY

A speech in which an actor, usually alone on stage, speaks the inner thoughts of his/her character aloud

SOUND

The effects an audience hears during a performance to communicate character, context, or environment

SPACE

A defined area

SOUND EFFECTS

Recorded: often abbreviated to FX. There are many sources for recorded sound effects, from compact discs, to downloading from the internet. May form an obvious part of the action (train arriving at station) or may be in the background throughout a scene (e.g. birds

chirping).

Live: gunshots, door slams, and offstage voices (amongst many others) are most effective when done live.

 

SOUND ELEMENTS

Music, sound effects, actors’ voices

STATUS

Importance relative to others

SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS

Traditional term for what is currently referred to as proxemics, referring to spatial signifiers of the relationship between different performers or a performer and elements of the set which convey information about character and circumstances

SPECIAL EFFECTS

Visual or sound effects used to enhance a theatrical performance

SPONTANEOUS

Drama created ‘on the spot’ without a script or plan improvisation

SPOTLIGHT

Beam of light created by a lantern for a person or place on the acting area

STAGE DIRECTIONS

Written or spoken advice on how to act a drama

STAGE PRESENCE

The level of comfort, commitment, and energy an actor appears to have on stage

STORY LINE

The plot or plan of action

STAGE WHISPER

A loud whisper intended to be heard by the audience

STAGING

Another term for blocking; deliberate choices about where the actors stand and how they move on stage to communicate character relationships and plot and to create interesting stage pictures, relative to the audience

STRIKE

To remove all the set from the acting area

STANCE

Attitude or position of the body.

The way you hold your posture on stage will portray you character’s age, personality and mood.

Your character’s stance may change according to what situation they are in.

STEREOTYPE

An exaggerated portrayal of a type of person

STIMULUS

Anything which suggest ideas which can be developed into drama

STOCK CHARACTERS

Characters who represent particular personality types or characteristics of human behaviour.

Stock characters are immediately recognisable and appear throughout the history of theatre, beginning with Greek and Roman comedy and elaborated upon in Commedia dell’ Arte.

STRUCTURE

The arrangement of and relationship between the constituent parts of a whole as in ‘prologue, exposition, dénouement’ or scenes and acts within a play (linear chronological or non-linear using cross-cutting and split stage)

STYLISATION

The shaping of dramatic material, settings, or costumes in a deliberately nonrealistic manner

SUSPENSE

A feeling of uncertainty as to the outcome, used to build interest and excitement on the part of the audience

SYMBOLISM

The use of symbolic language, imagery, or colour to evoke emotions or ideas

 

TABS

Curtains

TABLEAU

A technique in creative drama in which actors create a frozen picture, as if the action were paused; plural is tableaux. Not to be confused with freeze frame, which is a term used in film and video production and which should not be used when discussing drama

TARGET AUDIENCE

A specific group of people at whom a drama is aimed

TEMPO

Relative speed or rate of movement in pace over time, e.g. the speed at which the music for a dance should be played. Can be applied to dramatic contexts such as in ‘tempo rhythm’

TENSION

The atmosphere created by unresolved, disquieting, or inharmonious situations that human beings feel compelled to address; the state of anxiety the audience feels because of a threat to a character in a play

TRAP DOOR

Door in a floor

TEXT

The basis of dramatic activity and performance; a written script or an agreed upon structure and content for an improvisation

THEATRE GAMES

Improvisational exercises structured by the director or teacher to achieve a specific objective, such as breaking down inhibitions or establishing trust

THEATRE-IN-THE-ROUND

An acting area or stage that may be viewed from all sides simultaneously

THEME

The basic idea of a play; the idea, point of view, or perception that binds together a work of art

THOUGHT TRACKING

An aid to characterization: the character speaks their thoughts out loud

THOUGHT TUNNEL

Character(s) walk past other characters who comment on their situation

THRUST STAGE

A stage that extends into the audience area, with seats on three sides of a peninsula-shaped acting space

TIMBRE

The distinctive character or quality of a musical or vocal sound apart from its pitch or intensity such as in a nasal voice quality

TIMING

Includes setting cues for effects and lighting, synchronising two or more things that must happen simultaneously, and establishing the pace at which lines will be delivered or the play performed

TONE

Change of voice to express emotion

TRAGEDY

A drama about unhappy events and with a sad ending

TRAVERSE

Form of staging where the audience is on either side of the acting area

TREADS

Stairs

TRUCK

Piece of scenery on wheels for ease of movement

TURNING POINT

The climax or high point of a story, when events can go either way

VENUE

Place where a drama is presented

VOCAL EXPRESSION

How an actor uses his or her voice to convey character

VOCAL PROJECTION

Directing the voice out of the body to be heard clearly at a distance

VOICE

The combination of vocal qualities an actor uses such as articulation, phrasing, and pronunciation

VOICE-OVER

Recorded speech played during a drama

VOICES IN THE HEAD

Recall of words said by others about a character of situation

VOLUME

Loudness or quietness of the voice

WINGS

Offstage areas to the right and left of the acting/onstage area