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The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Theatre Vocabulary


a theatre/theater/playhouse: a building where plays are performed. There are different kinds.

the stage: a raised platform or podium where actors perform, and musicians give concerts. Not every theatre has a raised stage. Anyone standing on the stage where they can be seen is “on stage”. When actors hide behind the curtains, they are “off stage”.

the audience: the people who watch a performance, either a play or concert. They are sometimes called spectators, but spectators are typically louder, and part of a sporting event.

balcony: A raised level of seats from which the audience can look down on the stage. They’re usually farther away, so the seats are less expensive. There are different kinds of balconies, the grand circle, loge, upper circle, and mezzanine.

a set: consists of all the decorations on a stage. They can be simple or big and expensive. Usually made of wood and painted, with doors and windows, sets often change during a play. Each scene may have a different set. Some sets are on platforms that rotate.

scenes and acts: Plays are divided into scenes and acts. Acts are like chapters in a book. Most plays have two or three. Acts are divided into smaller scenes that often happen in different places, requiring a change in the set.

a dressing room: This is where actors put on costumes and makeup before and during a play.

a prompter’s box: This is a little box or booth where a prompter sits. He has a copy of the script and he can help any actor who forgets his/her lines, prompting them with the words.

a prop: This is anything an actor uses during a play. It can be a decoration or something hand held – usually fake.

proscenium: is the big arch with columns on either side of the stage. Not every theatre has one.

scenography: The art of producing a play, concerned with stagecraft, choreography, and the total experience of the play.

Scenography is the seamless synthesis of space, text, research, art, actors, directors and spectators that contributes to an original creation.”Pamela Howard

Scenography is not simply concerned with creating and presenting images to an audience; it is concerned with audience reception and engagement. It is a sensory as well as an intellectual experience, emotional as well as rational.” – Joslin McKinney & Philip Butterworth

stagecraft: the technical side of theatre, it’s concerned with engineering aspects of building sets that are safe and strong, lighting, sound, costumes, makeup, and making props. In a small production, all aspects of stagecraft are handled by a stage manager.

choreography: Is the art of movement. Most important in dance, choreography is also important in theatre, dictating where actors stand, when they stand or sit, and various actions, like fighting. Actors are often directed to jump off the stage and into the audience. This is all dictated by a choreographer.

a rehearsal: This is practice that actors do, to prepare for a show.

a dress rehearsal: This is a special practice before a show, where actors all wear their costumes, and use their props, to make sure everything works fine.

stage fright: (tréma) is when you get scared on stage. You’re not used to having so many people look at you, and you don’t want to make a mistake. Stage fright can make you forget your lines. 


A carpenter
the cast
a choreographer
designers: set, lighting, costume, sound, technical
a director
a dramaturg
a fight director
a playwright
a production manager
a stage hand/technical crew
a stage manager
a stock character
an understudy



Classical Greece
European Theatre
Commedia dell’arte & melodrama
Cromwell’s Interregnum
19th C Romanticism, Victorian burlesque
Problem plays


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