Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Being involved in musical theatre, means there are terms and phrases that you seem to pick up over time, so for this weeks little blog we thought we would have a little look at some of the common words in the theatre word and their meanings! Check out the different areas below and see if there are any new terms that are new to you.
AUDITION – Ahhh that dreaded word! We all prep hard for audition day, it’s a time when we perform a specific section of dialogue, movement and singing to try out for our dream role.
WARM UPS – Not just something you do at the gym before exercising, in the world of musicals our most important muscle to warm up is our vocal cords, so it’s something we do often by singing scales and funny little tunes to ensure we protect our voices.
TYPECAST – When you’re just ALWAYS cast in a nerdy role. Or ALWAYS the villain. Or ALWAYS that comical character.
METHOD ACTING – When actors try to achieve complete emotional understanding of their character (for example: adapting their daily life to align with a role as part of the rehearsal process).
SOLILOQUY – When a character expresses internal thoughts or emotions verbally for the benefit of the audience. Basically, when a character talks to themselves.
BLOCKING – This doesn’t mean standing in front of someone so that they can’t get by, ‘blocking’ in the theatre world refers to the exact positioning on a stage where an actor needs to be during a scene.
OFF BOOK – When actors can finally toss the script aside because they have their lines memorised. This has got to be one of the best feelings, I think we’re all very proud when we can say “I’m off book now!”
DOWNSTAGE – The front of a stage where performers are closest to the audience, foe some being downstage can be a scary place.
UPSTAGE – You guessed it the back of the stage farthest from the audience.
UPSTAGED – This word refers to someone who constantly tries to outshine everyone.
FOURTH WALL – Sounds like something from a sci-fi movie but is really the theoretical barrier between actor and audience. Performers that “break the fourth wall” are those brave folk who address the audience.
STAGE DIRECTION – When a play’s text includes instructional movement or gestures.
QUICK CHANGE – A really, really, really, really, really, really fast costume change.
SITZPROBE – (from the German for seated rehearsal) Or to us at MMTC the DRESS! A magical rehearsal where singers and musicians unite to run through musical numbers together.
RUN THROUGH – When a cast rehearses their entire show from beginning to end.
GOBO – A fancy term for light-based projections that are used during a theatrical production.
PROSCENIUM – The arch or boarder that frames a stage.
SCRIM – A piece of cloth that’s used as a backdrop on-stage (often lit from behind to create the scene).
WINGS – The area to the sides of the stage where all things important happen: quick changes occur, props await their moment in the sun, and performers enter onstage.
ORCHESTRA – While even non-theatre folks know that the orchestra can refer to live instruments accompanying a show, the term also defines a venue’s main floor seating.
THE FLIES - A fly system, or theatrical rigging system, is a system of rope lines, blocks (pulleys), counterweights and related devices within a theatre that enables a stage crew to fly (hoist) quickly, quietly and safely components such as curtains, lights, scenery, stage effects and, sometimes even people. If you hear “HEADS” called from above you know you need to move as you are in the way of something usually a cloth rail being lowered from the flies.
FRONT-OF-HOUSE – Areas of a theatre or performing arts venue where the public can be.
BACKSTAGE – Home, the area the consists of dressing rooms, storage and the greenroom, it’s where we practically live for show week!
GREENROOM – Tea room
or social space: We do love the greenroom during intervals for a much needed brew before act two!
STAGE DOOR – The secret place where theatre fans gather to have programmes signed or in our case where the cast and crew enter and exit the theatre
STAGE MANAGER – (Noun) A magical device usually fuelled by caffeine and sweets, who brings order to chaos and isn’t afraid to shout at people!
TECHIE – A loving term of endearment for those who make the magic happen offstage (aka theatre technicians who work with lights, props, sets, etc.)
DRESSER – A magical person who aids during quick changes and helps in keeping costumes neat and tidy. Not to be confused with an item of furniture.
FLYMAN: a person positioned in the flies to raise and lower scenery.
ENCORE – That epic musical number that occurs after audiences have applauded the finale of a show and cast members have given a closing bow.
CURTAIN CALL – That magical moment after a production when the cast comes out for a bow and applause.
STRIKE – When the run of a show is done, and everyone involved congregates to dismantle the set, sort costumes and props and for some, a time when tears are shed.