Theatre is full of words and phrases that can be confusing to one who is not heavily enveloped in the art. Due to this fact, I have taken the liberty to create a glossary of sorts: The ABC’s of Theatre. I hope you find it enlightening and helpful in your future theatre endeavors.
A- is for Audience, which is the group of humans you have to entertain every night.
B- is for Babies, which you pray are not in the audience.
C- is for Coiling Cables, which you need to know how to do properly or your technical director might throw something at you.
D- is for Dressing Room, which is where normal humans transform into whimsical stage characters.
E- is for Ensemble, the group of people who make stage shows much more interesting.
F- is for Fresnel, a type of lighting fixture. If you pronounce the “s” in the name, it is highly likely that your master electrician will make fun of you forever.
G- is for Ghost Light, which should always be placed on the stage at the end of the evening before turning out work lights and leaving the space. This is for safety and to keep the ghosts in your theater happy.
H- is for “Hamilton,” the musical that you are 95% confident that you could perform as a one-person show.
I- is for Italian Run, a rehearsal in which the actors say their lines as quickly as possible. This is helpful in checking for line memorization and is guaranteed to make any show, regardless of genre, much funnier.
J- is for Jukebox Musical, which is a show consisting of pre-existing songs. Examples include “Mamma Mia,” “All Shook Up,” and “American Idiot.” Some Jukebox Musicals are better than others, and others really should have just stayed on the radio.
K- is for Knap, a technique used to mimic the sound of contact in a stage combat scene. This sound is often made by slapping your chest or thigh. Examples of knaps can be found when observing Super Kicks in WWE matches.
L- is for Lift and Fight Call, where actors practice lifts and fight scenes before the audience is let into the house. These are very important for safety, and any actor who thinks there are unnecessary has never been dropped on their head or punched in the mouth.
M- is for Microphones, the things that get very sweaty after actors use them for a performance.
N- is for Notes, the instructions directors and/or stage managers give you to make sure you continue to do well at your job. When you ignore these notes, you increase your chances of having a hard time getting future employment.
O- is for Outdoor Theatre, for people who like to sweat more often and worry about weather more consistently while participating in the fine arts.
P- is for Pit, which is either the term for a group of musicians or the place you hide the musicians for the show. Contrary to popular belief, it is not intended to be a trap for the musicians.
Q- is for Quick Change, one of the most stressful things that can happen backstage.
R- is for Rehearsal, the session of time where actors learn and practice the show. Sometimes, when actors, directors and SM staff are truly exhausted, it is possible to break a rehearsal. An example of this is when you are supposed to be a posh, British lady and yell like a southern rancher.
S is for Shakespeare, the writer that everyone will claim to love but a lot of the time are fibbing to look cool and/or like an intellectual in the theatre community.
T- is for Tech Week, the period of time where technicians don’t sleep.
U- is for Upstage, referring to the part of the stage that is furthest from the audience or when an actor draws a ridiculous amount of attention to themselves rather than the person who is the main focus of the scene. Most people are not a fan of this.
V- is for Vamp, a musical term referring to a section of music that is repeated over and over again until the next section of music begins. These are usually used underneath dialogue, and depending on the performer, the conductor will either have to speed through the vamp or repeat it 53 times.
W- is for “Wicked,” the musical that kind of seems like fanfiction but is still doing super well on Broadway since 2003.
X- is for Cross, because writing out the whole word “cross” while taking blocking notes takes too much time and space.
Y- is for Yoke, which is the part of a Source 4 Lighting Fixture that is attached to the pipe. You’re gonna wanna hope that this yoke is secure, as lighting fixtures obey the laws of gravity, regardless of whether or not there is an actor underneath them.
Z- is for Zzzzzz, which is what you do after a 16 hour work day in the theater.
Until Next Time,