Skip to main content
Humanities Libertexts

Glossary

  • Page ID
    11199
  • acting area: in lighting; an area of the stage where actors play a moment or scene, and which requires illumination.

    acting notes: refinements and corrections given to actors during the rehearsal or performance process. These notes usually come from the director or stage manager.

    additive color mixing: in lighting; the combination of several filtered lights on one area. Lighting color mixes toward white light.

    amplifier: in sound; a devise that boosts a sound signal to a level strong enough to push a speaker.

    arena theatre: a theatre space wherein the audience surrounds the playing area.

    apron: the flat extension of the stage that projects from the proscenium toward the audience.

    audition: a try-out session in which actors are seen by a director for potential selection to play a role in the show.

    balanced cable: for audio; a cable that has three wires to help reduce noise in the signal chain.

    barn door: In lighting; an accessory equipped with adjustable flaps to block the source.

    batten: pipes suspended above a stage used for supporting scenery, drapery, and lighting.

    beam angle: in lighting; the portion of the beam of light that is at least 50% as bright as the center of the beam.

    binder: in paint; the glue in the mixture that affixes the pigment to the painted surface.

    black box theatre: a theatre space wherein the audience and performance are in one room. These theatres are usually equipped with movable seating to allow for various configurations.

    blackout: in lighting; a cue that fades all lights out.

    blackout drape: a full-stage, black drape.

    blackout traveler: a full-stage, black drape that can open and close horizontally.

    blocking: the planned movement of actors around the playing area.

    border light: a multi-cell fixture primarily used to light drops. Aka strip light.

    breakaway: any prop that has been designed to break apart without injuring the performer.

    build schedule: a chart of each piece required for a production with reference to when each stage of construction must be completed.

    bump-up: in lighting; a cue that quickly raises the lighting level.

    bump-out: in lighting; a cue that quickly goes to a blackout.

    butt joint: a simple wood joint in which two pieces are cut square and abutted together.

    carriage bolt: a bolt whose upper face has a rounded surface with the underside shaped as a tapered square collar. Used to join wood without leaving a protruding head.

    cast: the group of actors playing all the parts in a play.

    circuit: in lighting; a numbered cable associated with a diming system.

    color: in lighting; one of the four controllable qualities of light, achieved through use of color filters, aka gels.

    color rendering: a colored sketch or painting of design elements or costumes.

    community theatre: a noncommercial, local group made by and intended for their community.

    company: a group including all the members of a theatrical organization or production.

    complementary colors: colors opposite from one another on a color wheel.

    connector: the style of electrical plug on a piece of equipment.

    contact sheet: a document with contact information listed for the entire cast and crew of a production.

    control booth: an area or room dedicated to the equipment used to control theatrical equipment for presentation.

    consumable: anything that is intentionally used up or destroyed during a production.

    control channels: in lighting; the numbers used at the lighting control console to control the actions of the dimmers.

    controllable qualities of light: for lighting; intensity, color, movement, direction.

    corner block: a thin plywood triangle used to support the corner joints of a flat frame.

    costume: the wardrobe and accessories designed for a character in a play.

    costume rendering: A designer’s full-body sketch of a costume design. Usually colored, often accompanied by fabric swatches.

    costume parade: a showing of characters in their wardrobe under stage light for director’s approval and adjustments.

    counterweight arbor: the vertically tracked weight carriage of a counterweight fly line.

    counterweight system: a fly system utilizing a tracked arbor to control the movement of a batten.

    creative team: the group of people responsible for the design of a production; typically the director, designers, choreographer, and musical director.

    crossover: a method of travelling from one side of the stage to another, unseen by the audience.

    cue: a directive for action. For example, a change in lighting.

    cue-to-cue: a technical rehearsal in which action around cues is rehearsed but dialogue between is skipped over.

    cultural associations: for color; those associations we learn through our culture.

    cut drop: a drop that has a profiled edge.

    cutter: for costumes; the person who cuts fabric to be sewn into costumes.

    cyclorama (aka cyc): a large backdrop often used to represent sky. These traditionally wrap around the upstage wings.

    cyc light: a lighting fixture designed to light drops and cycloramas.

    deck: the stage floor or level built on top of the stage floor.

    design presentation: A meeting in which designers present and explain designs to the company.

    dimmer: in lighting; a unit that controls the electric supply to the lighting instrument allowing it to fade.

    dimmer per circuit: in lighting; a theatre where each lighting circuit is wired to its own dimmer.

    direction: in lighting; one of the four controllable qualities of light.

    DMX512: in lighting; the electronic protocol language used by control consoles to control lighting equipment.

    draper: in costumes; a person who builds wardrobe by draping fabric over a dress form.

    draping: the art of building wardrobe by draping fabric over a dress form.

    drop: a large flat piece of fabric used as part of the scenery for a show.

    dry tech: a technical rehearsal for crews for which the performers are not present.

    drywall screws: specialty screws with qualities of sharpness and brittleness.

    Edison connector: in lighting; a standard style, two-bladed plug in common use in U.S. homes.

    effects: in sound; one of the three major areas of sound design, effects cover any sounds that are not music cues or related to reinforcement.

    electric: in lighting, a batten specifically fitted for use as a place to hang lighting instruments.

    ellipsoidal reflector spotlight: a standard hard-edged theatrical lighting instrument using a two-lens system and an elliptically shaped reflector.

    facing: a surface added to the sides of a platform so that it appears solid.

    false proscenium: a portal that sits in front or inside of the natural proscenium creating a new frame for the stage.

    field angle: in lighting; the portion of the beam of light that is less than 50% as bright as the center of the beam.

    fight call: a preshow rehearsal conducted to review any physical business in a performance to minimize the chance for injuries.

    fill light: in lighting; the dimmer or unmotivated source of light representing the reflected light of the scene, it fills the shadows created by the key light.

    filler: in paint; particulate matter added to increase its opacity.

    first hand: a costume shop employee who assists the costume shop manager in dayto- day operations.

    fixed caster: a caster wheel that cannot swivel.

    fitting: an appointment for an actor to be fitted into their costume.

    flat: theatrical walls built as scenery.

    flat-patterning: the use of paper patterns to cut fabric pieces for costumes.

    flood: in lighting; to widen the beam of a lighting instrument.

    fly: to rig objects in the theatre so they can be lifted and lowered above the stage.

    fly system: a system of ropes or cables allowing scenery to be rigged to a grid over the stage.

    focus call: a work call to adjust the lighting instruments to the designer’s specifications for a production.

    follow-spot: a lighting instrument on a rotating base allowing an operator to follow an actor with its beam.

    Fresnel: in lighting; a soft-edged instrument with a step lens.

    functions of light: in lighting; mood, illumination, modeling, and selective focus.

    gel: a common term used to refer to color filters for lights. Gel is a holdover term from days when filters were made of gelatin.

    gobo: a common term used to refer to cut-out template patterns for lights.

    grand drape: the main curtain on a stage, often richly colored.

    grand teaser: a short and wide drape that hangs over the main drape and is often richly colored.

    grid: the network of beams above the stage that support the rigging system components.

    ground row: a low horizontal scenic element, usually used to hide lighting along the stage floor.

    hand: in costumes; the feel of a fabric.

    hand prop: a prop handled by performers.

    hard-cover flat: a flat frame with a hard face typically ¼” plywood or luaan. Can be flat framed, metal framed, Broadway, or studio style.

    hard-edged light: a fixture with a defined edge to its beam of light.

    hazer: a unit that continuously puts out a relatively light atmospheric fog.

    head block: a multi-sheave block used to change the direction of control lines for a batten.

    headset: a part of the communication system used by crews during a performance.

    headset system: a communication system allowing crews to remain in contact throughout a theatre.

    hex bolt: a bolt fastener with a hexagonal top for easy tightening with a wrench.

    hold: a temporary stop of rehearsal action.

    house: the audience area of an auditorium.

    illumination: in lighting; one of the four controllable qualities of light.

    input device: for sound; a playback device or microphone.

    intensity: in lighting; relative brightness.

    jack: a triangular frame used to brace flats and keep them vertical.

    jackknife platform: a platform designed to pivot onstage from a fixed point on one corner.

    key light: in lighting; the brighter source of light, motivated by the presumed source of light for the scene.

    keystone: a thin plywood brace used to support the rail joints of a flat frame.

    lamp: in lighting; the bulb (envelope), base, and filament unit for a lighting instrument.

    LED fixture: a lighting fixture that uses light emitting diodes rather than an incandescent source.

    leg: a style of drapery, these tall narrow drapes mask the wing space along the sides of a stage.

    levels: raised areas on the stage.

    lift line: the lines that support a batten in a rigging system.

    light plot: a scaled plan showing the placement of lighting equipment for a production.

    lighting control console: the interface for control of theatrical lighting. Typically a computer based control that replays preprogrammed lighting cues sequentially.

    lighting filters: colored translucent sheets placed in front of lights to filter their spectrum.

    lighting rehearsal: a showing of light cues by their designer for the director and stage manager prior to technical rehearsals.

    lighting system: the components of lighting equipment that allow for control of lighting states on a stage.

    line level: a low-level electronic signal used to route and process sound.

    load-in: the time when technical support elements are installed in a theatre for a production.

    load-in door: the door or opening provided by a theatre for production equipment to enter the space.

    loading dock: an area adjacent to the load-in door where trucks can offload equipment into the space.

    loft block: an individual sheave that changes the direction of a line in a rigging system.

    main drape: sometimes referred to as a grand drape, the main curtain in a theatre often richly colored.

    mask: to hang curtains so they block the audience view of backstage areas.

    mic level: a very low-level electronic signal used to transfer the transduced microphone signal into a system for processing. Ordinarily this signal must be runthrough a pre-amp.

    mixer: for sound; a signal routing device allowing adjustment of audio levels from and to various sources.

    modeling: in lighting: one of the four functions of light, the use of highlight and shadow to sculpt objects with light.

    mood: in lighting; one of the four functions of light, the emotional quality of a lighting moment.

    monitor: in sound; a speaker placed so that performers can hear one another.

    movement: in lighting; one of the four controllable qualities of light, the physical movement of light sources or perceived movement through changing cues.

    moving light: a lighting fixture with motorized components to allow for remote control.

    moving mirror light: a lighting fixture equipped with a motorized mirror to allow for remote control of the beam direction.

    music: in sound; one of the three primary responsibilities of a sound designer, any music played during a production.

    natural associations: for color, any associations we may be born with.

    natural stage floor: the top surface of the stage floor without scenery added.

    nominal dimension: the dimension of lumber prior to finishing, not the actual dimension.

    notions: for costumes; items including buttons, zippers, hooks, and other fabric construction accessories.

    orchestra pit: the space between the stage and the auditorium, usually below stage level, where an orchestra can be held.

    paper tech: a meeting in which cues are placed in the stage manager’s prompt book.

    PAR: a lighting instrument using a parabolic reflector lamp.

    PARNel: a highbred lighting instrument blending features of a Fresnel and a PAR, producing a soft-edged light.

    patch panel: a flexible connection bay where lighting circuits are routed to dimmers.

    personal prop: any prop that may be directly associated to a character, may include jewelry, parasols, combs, etc.

    pigment: an additive that provides color.

    pin connector: in lighting; a three-pin, flat, paddle-style electrical connector., aka stage-pin connector.

    pin rail: a horizontal rail where lines are tied off to hold battens at required heights.

    places call: a directive made by the stage manager to the company for all to go to the spot they need to be in in order to begin a performance.

    plan: a graphic representation drawn as an overhead view.

    plano-convex lens: in lighting; a lens that is flat on one side and has a convex curve profile on the other.

    platform: a framed unit intended to support people or any raised area on a stage.

    playback: the replaying of recorded media or type of media supported by equipment.

    playing area: the area of the stage where the audience can view a performer.

    portal: an archway formed by two legs and a border or similar framed opening.

    practical: an item that must function onstage as it would in real life.

    pre-amp: an amplifier designed to boost a mic level signal to a line level.

    preproduction: the time before rehearsals and construction have begun.

    preview performance: a public performance given before the advertised opening of a production.

    primary colors: the base colors from which all others can be mixed. For pigment: red, blue, and yellow. For light: red, blue, and green.

    proscenium theatre: a traditional theatre space where the audience and the stage are essentially two rooms with an archway cut from the adjoining wall.

    production concept: the creative interpretation of a script that unifies the artistic vision of the creative team.

    production meeting: a conference of appropriate production team members to share information and updates.

    production resources: assets available to realize a given production.

    production schedule: the calendar developed to track a production from inception through performances.

    production team: the group of people responsible for realizing a production.

    professional: generally refers to those paid for their efforts rather than volunteers. profile flat: a flat wall with a shaped edge or edges.

    prompt book: a copy of the script, maintained by the stage manager, that records the blocking and cues for a production.

    property list: a list of all prop elements required for a production.

    pull: to choose an item in the theatre stock for production use.

    put-in rehearsal: a special rehearsal for an actor taking over an existing role.

    raked stage: a stage for which the floor of the playing area has ben raised at the back such that it angles up and away from the audience. This arrangement lends a false depth to the playing area.

    reflector: in lighting; the element that collects wasted light from the lamp and refracts it in the direction of the lens.

    reinforcement: in sound; one of the three main responsibilities of a sound designer, the balance and amplification of live sound elements and voices.

    rehearsal clothes: clothing worn by actors during rehearsal periods to approximate the style of wardrobe they will wear for the show.

    rehearsal report: Daily reports sent to the production team by the stage manager that chronicle the events of the previous rehearsal and list needs for upcoming rehearsals.

    rehearsal room: the space where the directors and actors develop the performance.

    rehearsal prop: an approximation of a show prop given to actors for the rehearsal period.

    rehearsal schedule: a schedule of all rehearsals and their locations for a production.

    resident designers: staff designers who may be assigned design work within a theatre season.

    revolve: a rotating platform or stage.

    rigged/rigging: something that has been hung on ropes or cables. In costumes; a garment that has been altered for fast removal.

    rise/run: refers to stairs and the relative change in height over each individual tread’s depth.

    rope set rigging: a flying system relying on a pin rail and sandbags to counter weight placed on a batten.

    run: the length of time or number of performances for a production.

    run-through: a rehearsal during which the entire show will be run in performance order.

    sandbag: a bag of sand used to counterweight a rigged line or to add ballast to a unit.

    scale: in drafting; the relative measured scale the drafting represents.

    scene shift: a moment in which technicians change the locations of design elements during a performance.

    script: the text of a play.

    secondary colors: colors that can be created by mixing two neighboring primary colors together.

    selective focus: in lighting; one of the four functions of light, the use of contrast to guide the eyes of the audience to the action.

    set: the scenic environment designed for a play.

    set dressing: items on the set that the performers do not handle, but add atmosphere and detail.

    set props: large prop items and furniture pieces.

    sheet goods: building materials such as plywood sold in flat sheets, typically measuring 4 feet by 8 feet.

    shift light: a lighting state used during scene changes to facilitate the work and indicate to the audience that these moments are not part of the action of the play.

    show curtain: a specialty curtain designed as scenery for a play.

    shutters: in lighting; the metal flags that allow the beam to be shaped in the fixture. signal chain: in sound; the path through the system the electronic signal is routed. Aka signal path.

    signal to noise ratio: in sound; the balance of desired electronic signal to unwanted electric interference leaking into the signal.

    signal path: see “signal chain.”

    site-specific theatre: theatre performed in a nontraditional location.

    sitzprobe: a rehearsal for singers and the orchestra in which the singers are seated or at least not following their set blocking.

    skin: in scenery; the top surface of a scenic unit.

    sky drop: a large drop representing the sky on a stage.

    slip stage: a stage wagon, often large enough to hold an entire setting.

    smoke machine: an effects unit that produces a vapor for fog and smoke.

    snow cradle: a sling used to drop dry materials like snow and confetti from above a stage.

    soft-cover flat: a temporary wall usually built with a wood frame, the face of the frame being covered in a fabric.

    soft-edged light: in lighting; an instrument whose beam fades toward its edge, causing the perimeter to be indistinguishable.

    sound system: the system of equipment allowing for controlled playback for a production.

    source device: in sound; any input device bringing a signal into a sound system.

    spacing rehearsal: a rehearsal conducted once scenery has been loaded into a theatre so the cast can make the adjustment from the tapelines of the rehearsal room to the physical setting.

    special effect: any unusual effect used for a performance, these may be physical, pyrotechnic, auditory, or based in light.

    spot/spotting down: in lighting; the narrowing of an instruments beam.

    stage crew: the group of technicians needed for performance of a play.

    stage combat: movement created to create the illusion of combat while keeping the performers safe.

    stage direction: a system of directions given from the actor’s perspective to describe areas of the stage.

    stage house: the stage area between the proscenium and the upstage wall including the stage, wings, grid, and fly system.

    stage monitor: a system that allows actors backstage to hear the dialogue being spoken on stage.

    stock scenery: scenic elements built and stored for reuse by the theatre.

    stock size: a predetermined size that stock elements are built in for easy reuse.

    straight-run platform wagon: a platform equipped with fixed casters to run in a straight direction on stage.

    strip light: a multi-cell lighting fixture typically used to light drops. Aka border light.

    stumble-through: an early rehearsal held after show blocking is complete to show designers the shape and flow if the show.

    subtractive color: in lighting; the use of filters to limit the spectrum of light.

    sugar-glass: a term used to describe breakaway prop items that appear as glass to the audience. Though sugar can be used, resins are frequently employed to manufacture these breakaway items.

    swatch: a small piece of fabric that accompanies designs for color and textural reference.

    swivel caster: a caster with a rotating base allowing for it to roll at any given angle.

    teaser: traditionally the first short and wide drape upstage of the proscenium. This drape masks the first electric.

    technical notes: rehearsal and performance refinements or correctives regarding the technical elements of a production.

    technical rehearsals: rehearsals that focus on refining the technical elements of a production.

    template: in lighting; a cut-out placed in a lighting instrument to project an image. Aka gobo.

    tertiary colors: colors mixed from a primary and its neighboring secondary color.

    thumbnail sketch: an early, rough sketch of a design idea.

    tie-off cleat: a piece of stage hardware used to secure a line for quick adjustment.

    title block: a window of text on a scaled drafting that lists the subject of the draft, its scale, and other pertinent information.

    thrust theatre: a theatre space where the audience surrounds three sides of the playing area.

    top of show: the beginning of a play or performance.

    tormentor: The first set of tall and narrow drapes hung upstage of the proscenium and used to mask the wings of a stage.

    transmission: in lighting; the percentage of source light allowed to pass through a color filter.

    trap: an opening in the floor of a stage or platform used to facilitate appearances and disappearances.

    transducer: a device that translates an electronic sound waveform into a physical sound wave or reverses the process.

    twist-lock connector: in lighting; a three-blade connector in a circular formation equipped with a locking ground.

    unbalanced cable: in sound; a cable equipped with only two wires that has little resistance to electric interference.

    valence: a horizontal curtain designed to mask the rod or batten.

    vehicle: one of the components of paint. The vehicle allows the paint to be spread and either evaporates, cures, or is absorbed.

    wagon: a rolling platform.

    washes: in scenic painting; translucent paints used to layer colors on scenery.

    wet tech: a technical rehearsal incorporating cast and crew.

    wing: the area outside the playing area of a stage that is unseen by the audience.

    wood grain: in lumber; the longitudinal arrangement of wood fi bers. In painting; a finish imitating the surface of wood.

    yoke: in lighting; the U-shaped support connecting the lighting instrument and the C-clamp allowing for a tilting action.

    • Was this article helpful?