A Basic Theater Glossary

A glossary of theater terms.

New to the world of theater? Everyone has to start somewhere, so do not let your lack of knowledge keep you down.

The best way to feel “part of the club”, so to speak is to work on your theater terms. Now, there are a lot to learn but let’s just start with the basics and go from there.

Act: You know what it means to literally act, it is what actors do. What an act also refers to is a division in a play. A short play can have only one act, so multiple acts are not required.

Auditorium: The part of a theater where the audience sits during a performance.

Box Office: The part of the theater where customers can buy their tickets to a performance.

Box Set: A setting representing a room. It will have three walls with the fourth wall, the one facing the audience, missing.

Call: Generally refers to a request for an actor to come to the stage.

Callback: After an actor auditions for a play, a director will call back a group of actors to make a final decision.

Cast List: The names of the actors in a play and the characters that they will be playing.

Company: The cast crew and the staff working in a show.

Cue: A signal to an actor that they should perform an action.

Director: The person in charge of the artistic direction of a performance. A play may have many directors.

Downstage: The part of the stage that is closest to the audience.

Dress Rehearsal: A rehearsal with all the props, costumes and features that the actual performance will have.

Green Room: A room located close to the stage where actors can wait and relax.

House: Refers to the members of the audience.

Matinee: A performance that takes place in the afternoon.

Playwright: The author of a play.

Prompt Corner: The area of a stage from where the stage manager controls the play.

Props: All items large and small that are used in a performance.

Run: The length of time or number of performances that a play will be shown.

Set: The complete stage setting.

Technical Rehearsal: The Tech is a rehearsal of a performance without actors to master lighting, sound, etc.

Wings: The area not in the view of the audience to the sides of the stage

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