A Dictionary of Theater Terms

Eternity - 
	The time that passes between a dropped cue and the next line

Prop - 
	A hand-carried object small enough to be lost by an actor 30 
	seconds before it is needed on stage

Director - 
	The individual who suffers from the delusion that he or she is
	responsible for every moment of brilliance cited by the critic 
	in the local review

Blocking - 
	The art of moving actors on the stage in such a manner as not to 
	collide with the walls, the furniture, the orchestra pit or each 
	other.  Similar to playing chess, except that the pawns want to 
	argue with you.

Blocking Rehearsal - 
	A rehearsal taking place early in the production schedule 
	where actors frantically write down movements which will be 
	nowhere in evidence by opening night
Quality Theater - 
	Any show with which you were directly involved
Turkey - 
	Every show with which you were not directly involved

Dress Rehearsal - 
	Rehearsal that becomes a whole new ball game as actors attempt
	to maneuver among the 49 objects that the set designer added at
	7:30 that evening.

Tech Week - 
	The last week of rehearsal when everything that was supposed to 
	be done weeks before finally comes together at the last minute; 
	reaches its grand climax on dress rehearsal night when costumes 
	rip, a dimmer pack catches fire and the director has a nervous 
	breakdown. Also known as "hell" week.
Set - 
	An obstacle course which, throughout the rehearsal period, defies 
	the laws of physics by growing smaller week by week while 
	continuing to occupy the same amount of space

Monologue - 
	That bright, shining moment when all eyes are focused on a single 
	actor who is desperately aware that if he forgets a line, no one 
	can save him
Dark Night - 
	The night before opening when no rehearsal is scheduled so the 
	actors and crew can go home and get some well-deserved rest, and 
	instead spend the night staring sleeplessly at the ceiling because 
	they're sure they needed one more rehearsal
Bit Part - 
	An opportunity for the actor with the smallest role to count
	everybody else's lines and mention repeatedly that he or she has 
	the smallest part in the show.

Green Room - 
	Room shared by nervous actors waiting to go on stage and the
	precocious children whose actor parents couldn't get a baby-sitter 
	that night, a situation which can result in justifiable homicide

Dark Spot - 
	An area of the stage which the lighting designer has inexplicably 
	forgotten to light, and which has a magnetic attraction for the
	first-time actor.  A dark spot is never evident before opening night.

Hands - 
	Appendages at the end of the arms used for manipulating one's
	environment, except on a stage, where they grow six times their 
	normal size and either dangle uselessly, fidget nervously, or try 
	to hide in your pockets

Stage Manager - 
	Individual responsible for overseeing the crew, supervising the 
	set changes, baby-sitting the actors and putting the director in 
	a hammerlock to keep him from killing the actor who just decided 
	to turn his walk-on part into a major role by doing magic tricks 
	while he serves the tea

Lighting Director - 
	Individual who, from the only vantage point offering a full view
	of the stage, gives the stage manager a heart attack by announcing
	a play-by-play of everything that's going wrong

Makeup Kit -
   (1) Among experienced community theater actors, a battered 
       tackle box loaded with at least 10 shades of greasepaint 
       in various stages of desiccation, tubes of lipstick and blush, 
       assorted pencils, bobby pins, braids of crepe hair, liquid 
       latex, old programs, jewelry, break-a-leg greeting cards 
       from past shows, brushes and a handful of half-melted 
       cough drops
   (2) For first-time male actors, a helpless look and anything 
       they can borrow

The Forebrain - 
	The part of an actors brain which contains lines, blocking and 
	characterization; activated by hot lights
The Hindbrain - 
	The part of an actors brain that keeps up a running subtext in 
	the background, while the forebrain is trying to act. The hindbrain
	supplies a constant stream of unwanted information.  Such as who 
	is sitting in the second row tonight, a notation to seriously maim 
	the crew member who thought it would be funny to put real Tabasco 
	sauce in the fake Bloody Marys, or the fact that you need to do 
	laundry on Sunday.

Stage Crew - 
	Group of individuals who spend their evenings coping with 50-minute 
	stretches of total boredom interspersed with 30-second bursts of
	mindless panic

Message Play - 
	Any play which its director describes as  "worthwhile," "a challenge 
	to actors and audience alike," or "designed to make the audience
	think." Critics will be impressed both by the daring material and the 
	roomy accommodations, since they're likely to have the house all to

Bedroom Farce - 
	Any play which requires various states of undress on stage and whose 
	set sports a lot of doors.  The lukewarm reviews, all of which feature 
	the phrase "typical community theater fare" in the opening paragraph, 
	are followed paradoxically by a frantic attempt to schedule more 
	performances to accommodate the overflow crowds.
Assistant Director - 
	Individual willing to undertake special projects that nobody else would 
	take on a bet, such as working one-on-one with the brain-dead actor 
	whom the rest of the cast has threatened to take out a contract on.
Set Piece - 
	Any large piece of furniture which actors will resolutely use as a 
	safety shield between themselves and the audience, in an apparent 
	attempt to both anchor themselves to the floor, thereby avoiding 
	floating off into space, and to keep the audience from seeing that 
	they actually have legs

Strike - 
	The time immediately following the last performance while all cast 
	and crew members are required to stay and dismantle (or watch the 
	two people who own Makita screw drivers) dismantle the set.

Actors (As defined by a set designer) - 
	People who stand between the audience and the set designer's art, 
	blocking the view.  That's also the origin of the word "blocking," 
	by the way

Stage Right, Stage Left - 
	Two simple directions actors pretend not to understand in order 
	to drive directors crazy.  ("No, no, your OTHER stage right!")

                       Just Remember: 
"It's only Community Theater until it offends someone ... then it's ART!"

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