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Live Performing Arts - What You Need to Do
Know the Lingo: A Performing Arts Glossary
Every career field has its own specialized language. The live performing arts are venerable, and enduring, yet they are constantly evolving to add innovative technologies and mechanizations to otherwise longstanding traditions.
A published copy of a script containing notes for the actor and technicians, often credited to the first production’s design team.
A solo performance in an opera used to highlight the emotional state of the main character(s).
Process where an actor/performer shows a director or casting director of a production what he/she can do. Performers are usually asked to memorize a monologue from a play they like to perform, but may be asked to do a “Cold Reading” (a piece of unrehearsed text.)
Arranging moves required by the actors during the play, in order to create a prompt script. Positions at the start of scenes are noted, as are all movements around the stage.
CCTV (Closed Circuit television)
A video relay system used in the theatre to give a view of the stage to stage managers. It is also used to give musical performers a view of the conductor, and vice versa, to help keep time. It is closed circuit, meaning it is only linked between camera(s) and monitor(s), not for external broadcast.
CAD (Computer Aided Design)
Computer programs to design two-dimensional stage plans and drawings as well as for three-dimensional visualisations of how a set will look and how lighting will affect it (see also WYSIWYG).
Calling the show
The process of giving verbal cues to the lighting, sound, fly operators and stage crew during the performance. Usually done from the prompt corner by the stage manager.
Works as an advisor/assistant to the director on the background and historical relevance of a play, and as a liaison between director and playwright. Also may assist in editing & revising scripts, and advising a theatre on the suitability of plays for the theatre's audience and artistic policy.
Before first dress rehearsal, the cast parades under stage lighting before the director/designer/wardrobe staff, so that any defective or misfitting costumes can be detected and corrected.
A full rehearsal, with all technical elements brought together. The performance as it will be “on the night”.
The member of the wardrobe department who helps actors with costume care, and handles the costumes during the performance.
Member of the theatre staff who develops work for schools, or provides resources on current productions and runs workshops for students/school groups.
Computer networking protocol installed on many lighting desks that allows networking between the main desk, dimmers and remote desks around the theatre.
Highly skilled and trained choreographer of on-stage fight scenes, who teaches actors how to avoid hitting (and hurting) each other and how to use weapons safely.
Front of house (FOH)
Every part of the theatre in front of the proscenium arch. Includes foyer areas open to the general public.
Scaled plan showing the exact position (seen from above) of all items standing on the stage floor and indicating the position of items suspended above.
The process of recording information about each lighting state either onto paper or into the memory of a computerised lighting board for subsequent playback.
Introductory musical piece played before a musical, which contains many of the musical motifs and themes of the score.
A rehearsal with cast in costume and all technical personnel present. A piano substitutes for the orchestra, so that the director can concentrate on technical problems rather than musical ones. It also saves money as the orchestra does not have to be present.
Planning phase of production before actors are cast or start to rehearse and before sets are built. Brings together the production team in discussions about style, possibilities and budgets.
Computerised tools, which enable design teams to show directors and other members of the production team how lighting or scenic automation will look before the set is even built.
Often referred to as the “book”. The master copy of the script or score containing all the actors’ moves and technical cues. Used by stage management to control the performance.
Props handled by actors are known as hand props; props kept in an actor’s costume are known as personal props.
Rear of house (ROH)
The backstage and storage areas of the theatre.
A venue that has incoming touring companies; as opposed to a Producing House, which creates its own productions.
A company with a permanent ensemble of actors; each production has a run of limited length. At any time, there is normally one production in performance, another in rehearsal and several others in varying degrees of planning.
Rider (technical rider)
Information sent to a venue in advance of a touring group’s arrival that details lighting, sound, staging and dressing room requirements.
Decorative props and furnishings added to a stage setting.
Written report by stage management that covers any problems, running times, show staff and audience numbers for the previous days' performance(s). Copies are circulated to the technical departments and management staff.
Standard items of scenery used in a number of different performances. Many theatres have a stock of platforms that are repainted and reconfigured for many different productions.
Mechanised stage that allows scenery to be moved into position on large sliding trucks (wagons) from storage in large areas to the side and rear of the main stage. It enables incredibly complex scene changes to occur almost instantly.
Actor-by-actor, scene-by-scene inventory of all the costumes in a production, with a detailed breakdown into every separate item in each costume.
Acronym for "What You See Is What You Get"; a software tool for lighting design and production administration. Enables accurate pre-visualisation of lighting designs which greatly increases the understanding between director, producer and lighting/scenic designers in the early stages of a production.