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Theatre Terms & Definitions

actor: a person who performs in a play

backdrop: a large cloth (or paper) that is painted and hung as scenery

blackout: when all lights are simultaneously turned off to indicate the end of a scene

blocking: a plan that indicates where an actor stands and moves

“Break a leg!”: a theatre expression meaning "Good luck!"

cast: the actors in a play

center stage: the middle portion of the stage floor

character: a person in a story that an actor plays

choreographer: a person who plans and teaches movements - like dances and fight sequences - to actors

costume director: a person who designs and makes the costumes actors wear

cue: a signal that tells an actor when to speak or move

curtain call: actors gather on stage at the end of a performance to receive applause


director: the person who interprets the play and provides direction to the actors and designers

downstage: the area of the stage that is closest to the audience

dress rehearsal: the last rehearsal before a play opens with actors in full costume

Foley artist: a person who creates sounds for film or theatre using a variety of objects to enhance the sound effects

giving focus: an actor on stage does not move or talk so that audience attention is drawn to another actor who is moving or talking

improvisation: a drama that is not scripted, but is made up as you go

lighting designer: a person who plans what lights are used and when they are used to help create a setting

makeup designer: a person who makes actors faces resemble the characters they are playing

mime: an actor who performs without words

monologue: a scene when only one actor speaks

offstage: the area of the stage that is not seen by an audience

onstage: the area of a stage where actors perform

pantomime: a story performed without words

producer: the person who arranges the financing of a play

prop: short for properties. Any object used by an actor.

proscenium: a decorative frame that arches around the stage's acting area
script: a play in written form

set: the acting area including props and scenery

set designer: the person who designs the scenery for a play

sound designer: the person who selects the music and sounds used in a play

stage crew: people who set up scenery and change it between scenes of a play

stage directions: instructions given to actors to tell them when and where to move on stage

stage left: the area of stage that is on the actor's left

stage manager: the person who makes sure a performance runs as planned

stage right: the area of stage that is on the actor's right

taking focus: the actor speaks confidently and makes intentional movements in a way that gets the audience's attention

upstage: the back of the stage or the area that is the farthest away from the audience