Theatre Terms

Created by Rachie18 

Upgrade to
remove ads

60 terms · Quiz One Terms

Acting Areas

Those areas of the stage in which specific scenes, or parts of scenes, are played.

Artistic Director

Person responsible for the major artistic decisions of a theatrical production company - hiring of production personnel, selection of season, and so on.

Blocking

The actors movements on the stage.

Constructed Sound

Any sound created by editing, manipulating, or changing previously recorded sounds.

Decorative Prop

Any item that is used to enhance the setting visually but is not specifically touched by an actor, such as window.

Director

Person responsible for interpreting the script, creating a viable production concept, and directing the actors.

Dress

To place decorative props such as curtains, doilies, knickknacks, or magazines on the set to help make the environment look lived in and provide clues to the personalities of the characters who inhabit the set. Also, to work with hair or a wig to create a specific style or look.

Grand Drape

The curtain that covers the opening of the proscenium arch.

Lighting Designer

Person responsible for the appearance of the lighting during the production.

Managing Director

Person responsible for the business functions of a theatrical production company - fund raising, ticket sales, box office management.

Nonrepresentational Design

A style in which the portrayed elements do not represent physically identifiable objects.

Nonspecific Musical Effect

Any sound effect that does not reinforce a redly identifiable source such as doorbell or telephone.

Picture-Frame Stage

A configuration in which the spectators watch the action of a play through a rectangular opening; synonym for proscenium arch stage.

Production Concept

The creative interpretation of the script, which will unify the artistic vision of the production-design team.

Playwright

Person who develops and writes the script.

Producer

Person who selects the script, finds financial backing, and hires all production personnel.

Production-Design Team

The producer, director, and scenic, costume, lighting, and sound designers who, working together, develop the visual/aural concept for the production.

Production Manager

Coordinator of production scheduling and administrative/logistic details of a multishow theatrical season.

Production Meeting

A conference of appropriate production personnel to share information.

Production Style

A recognizable pattern of elements, both visual and intellectual, based on social and political history, used to create the environment for the production of a particular play.

Prompt Book Properties

A copy of the script with details about each actor's blocking as well as the location, timing, and, as necessary, action, of all set, prop, light, and sound cues. Developed and used by the Stage Manager.

Representational Design

A style in which the portrayed elements represent some recognizable object, such as a room, a forest, or a street corner.

Scenic Designer

A person responsible for the design and function of the scenery and properties.

Set Prop

A large, movable item, not built into the set, that is used in some way by an actor, such as a sofa, floor lamp, table, and so forth.

Sound Designer

Person responsible for the design, recording, and playback of all music and sound effects used in a production.

Sound Plot

A list describing each sound cue in the production.

Stage

The area where the action of the play takes place.

Stage Business

A specific action, also known as a bit, performed by an actor during the play.

Stage Crew

Those who shift the sets and, sometimes, props during rehearsals and performances.

Stage Manager

Person who assists the director during rehearsals and manages all backstage activity once the play has opened. Includes; calling sound, light, scenery shifts and actor's places.

Style

Specific compositional characteristics that distinguish the appearance of one type of design from another; e.g., realism, expressionism, surrealism, and so forth.

Stylization

The use of specific compositional elements characteristic of a particular style or period that create the essence of that style or period.

Apron

The flat extension of the stage floor that projects from the proscenium arch toward the audience.

Antagonist

The character in a play who commonly opposes the chief figure in the play or PROTAGONIST.

Protagonist

The chief character in a play. Often in direct conflict with the ANTAGONIST.

Soliloquy

A speech delivered by an actor alone on stage, which by stage convention, is understood to be the character's internal thoughts, not part of an exchange with another character or even the audience.

Monologue

Usually a long speech delivered by one character that may be heard but not interrupted by others. Or it may refer to a performance by a single actor, which is called a "solo performance".

Exposition

In play construction, the revelation of past events, revealed through dialogue that tell of events that occurred before the play has begun. Writing dialogue to reveal the "back story" that seems naturally part of the scene can be difficult.

Plot

The events of a play, expressed as a series of linked dramatic actions. More commonly described as the "story" of the play. The most important part of play construction according to Aristotle.

Inciting Action

In play construction, the single action that initiated the major conflict of the play.

Rising Action

In dramatic structure, the escalating conflicts, events and actions that follow the inciting action.

Climax

The point of highest tension in a play, when the conflicts of the play are at their fullest expression.

Denouement

The scene or scenes in a play devoted to tying up the loose ends after the climax.

Allegory

Representation of an abstract theme or themes through the symbolic use of character, action, and other concrete elements of a play.

Avant-garde

A French term that literally means the advance guard in a military formation. It has come to stand for an intellectual, literary, or artistic movement in any age that breaks with tradition and appears to be ahead of its time. Avant-garde works are usually experimental and unorthodox.

Bunraku

Traditional Japanese puppet theater.

Burlesque

A ludicrous imitation of a dramatic form or specific play. Closely related to satire but usually lacking the moral or intellectual purposes of reform typical of satire; burlesque is content to mock the excesses of other works. In the United States, the term has come to be associated with a form of variety show which stresses sex.

Comedy

As one of the oldest enduring categories of western drama. Although the range of comedy is broad, generally it can be said to be a play that is light in tone, is concerned with issues tending not to be serious, has a happy ending, and is designed to amuse and provoke laughter.

Domestic Drama

Also known as a bourgeois drama, domestic drama deals with problems of members of the middle and lower classes, particularly problems of the family and home. Conflicts with society, struggles within a family, dashed hopes, and renewed determination are characteristics of a domestic drama. It attempts to depict onstage the lifestyle of ordinary people, in language, in dress, in behavior.

Environmental Theater

Term used by Richard Schechner and others to refer to one branch of avant-garde theater. Among its aims are the elimination of the distinction between audience space and acting space, a more flexible approach to the interactions between performers and audience, and the substitution of a multiple focus for the traditional single focus.

Epic Theater

Form of presentation which has come to be associated with Bertolt Brecht, its chief advocate and theorist. It is aimed at the intellect rather than the emotions, seeking to present evidence regarding social questions in such a way that they may be objectively considered and an intelligent conclusion reached.

Existentialism

Set of philosophical ideas whose principal modern advocate is Jean-Paul Sarte. The term existentialist is applied by Sarte and others to plays which illustrate these views. Sartes central thesis is that there are no longer any fixed standards or values by which we can live and that each person must create his or her own code of conduct regardless of the conventions imposed by society.

Expressionism

Movement which developed and flourished in Germany during the period immediately preceding and following World War I. Expressionism was characterized by an attempt to dramatize subjective states through the use of distortion; striking, often grotesque images; and lyric, unrealistic dialogue. The expressionist hero or heroine was usually a rebel against his mechanistic vision of society.

Farce

One of the major genres of drama, usually regarded as a subclass of comedy. Farce has few, if any, intellectual pretensions. It aims to entertain, to provoke laughter. Its humor is the result primarily of physical activity and visual effects, and it relies less on language and wit than do so-called higher forms of comedy. Violence, rapid movement, and accelerating pace are characteristic of farce.

Happenings

Form of theatrical event which was developed out of the experimentation of certain American abstract artists in the 1960s. Happenings are nonliterary, replacing the script with a scenario which provides for chance occurrences. They are performed (often only once) in such places as parks and street corners, with little attempt being made to segregate the action from the audience. Emphasizing the free association of sound and movement, they avoid logical action and rational meaning.

Heroic Drama

Form of serious drama, written in verse or elevated prose, which features noble or heroic characters caught in extreme situations or undertaking unusual adventures. It has either a happy ending or, in cases where the hero or heroine dies, a triumphant ending in which the death is not regarded tragically.

History Play

In the broadest sense, a play set in a historical milieu which deals with historical personages; but the term is usually applied only to plays which deal with vital issues of public welfare and are nationalistic in tone. Shakespeare was the major writer of Elizabethan history plays.

Impressionism

Style of painting developed in the late nineteenth century which stressed immediate impressions created by objects particularly those resulting from the effects of light, and which tended to ignore details. As such, its influence on the theater was primarily in the area of scenic design, but the term impressionistic is sometimes applied to plays like Chekhov's, which rely on a series of impressions and used indirect techniques.

Kabuki

The most eclectic and theatrical of the major forms of Japanese theater. It is a more popular form than the aristocratic noh drama and, unlike puppet theater, which is called bunraku, it uses live actors. Roles of both sexes are performed by men in a highly theatrical, nonrealistic style. Kabuki combines music, dance, and dramatic scenes with an emphasis on color and movement. The plays are long and episodic, composed of a series of loosely connected dramatic scenes which are often performed separately.

Masque

Lavish, spectacular form of private theatrical entertainment which developed in Renaissance Italy and spread rapidly to the courts of France and England. Usually intended for a single performance, a masque combined poetry, music, elaborate costumes, and spectacular effects of stage machinery. It was a social event in which members of the court were both spectators and performers. Loosely constructed, masques were usually written around allegorical or mythological themes.

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions above and try again

Example:

Reload the page to try again!

Reload

Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

NEW! Voice Recording

Create Set