- Accent Light
- Illumination used to make an object stand out, usually associated with
the Set or Set Pieces. Examples could be a Fireplace Mantle,
a Picture, a Staircase, a Statue, etc.
- Accessory Holder
- Once referred to as "Runners", these are the slots at the front of a
Stage Lighting Fixture. They can be used to hold Barndoors,
Funnels, Gel Frames, Snoots and other Beam-altering
- Acting Call
- See Call.
- Acting Area
- The area of Performance that the Audience sees. Outside of this
is considered to be Off Stage or Backstage.
When a production calls for the area to be split, each is considered to
be a separate Acting Area. An example might be where there is one Set
each of an interior home, a bus stop, and an office. All can be seen at
the same time by an Audience. In this case, the Stage is said
to have three Acting Areas.
- Action Prop
- 1/ A Prop that an Actor can hold which
is used for a specific purpose such as a sword or a broom.
- 2/ A Prop that can perform an operation
such as a gun that makes a sound and/or flash, or a crystal ball
that can create a Lighting effect within itself at the
touch of a button.
- Ad Lib
- Any Dialogue said, or Action done, by an Actor that is not in the
- See Understudy.
- One who does not derive the major portion of income from performing.
(See Professional and Semi-Professional.)
- Ambience (Also spelled as `ambiance'.)
- (AHM-bee-on-ce or AM-bee-en-ce) Also referred to as "Atmosphere",
it is the technique of producing suitable surroundings to fit a situation
or the entire play itself.
- 1/ Audio Tracks played to provide location
for the Audience. These might include Traffic Sounds for a
city; Crickets, an Owl, and Wind Through Trees for Woods or a Park;
Announcements, Crowd Murmurings, and Jet Sounds for an airport. The
tracks might be played to begin or end a Scene, or continue
at low volume to underlie dialogue and/or actions.
In old Theatre, Ambience sounds would have been done live by one
or more Stagehands, Members of the Stage Management
team, or others. Some productions still do this.
- 2/ Lighting and Special Effects can
also be used to produce ambience. Creating a misty night at a lake
would be an example.
Something that is of a different time period than the one being portrayed.
This can include words, phrasing, a Prop, a costume, an expression,
a Set Piece, or a scenic item. An extreme example would be a cell
phone seen during a scene in "Anne of Green Gables".
- Analogue Control
- (ANN-ah-log) A Control Protocol for a Lighting or Audio
Board. Although other voltages have been used, the Lighting Standard
is 0 to 10 Volts DC (Direct Current). A dimmer responds to this varying
Control Voltage by varying its output voltage to Fixtures in direct
proportion to it; that is, the output voltage is an Analogue of the input
Analogue Audio equipment works in the same way. The small voltages
generated by a microphone will vary based on the volume (sound pressure)
of its acoustic input. For PA (Public Address) systems, this varying
voltage is amplified through to the final device which is a speaker. The
much larger varying voltage at that point Controls the speaker by driving
its cone back and forth to create sound waves in the air at a higher
acoustic pressure than those at the microphone. These vibrate our
eardrums in sympathy; we perceive those vibrations as voice, music, and
environmental sounds and noises.
- Anchor Plate
- A small, flat steel plate with a hollow rise down the centre under
which a D Ring can be secured, or through which Sash Cord
is able to be passed. The Plate has four screw holes by which it is
attached and made captive to the Stage or other rigid support.
- (AP-er-tyur) A metal plate with a hole in it used in an
Ellipsoidal when Pattern Projecting. It reduces the
Ellipsoidal's usable lens diameter which sharpens the image because it
blocks the perimeter Light Rays from the lens that result in
Spherical Abberation. Sometimes referred to as a "Doughnut".
- Applause Point
- A Pause inserted into a show that provides time for an Audience
to clap or display other appreciation, and for it to subside, before
continuing with the performance. This is so that dialogue, music, or
important action will not be diminished or even missed altogether. Similar
periods are placed to allow for Audience Laughter.
It is desirable that such pauses be built into a show during its rehearsals
where ever expected Audience reaction is likely to occur. Their points
of insertion, along with their durations, are then perfected during the
Invitational Dress when Patrons are present to see how a
live Audience actually reacts.
- Apple Box
- A strong, wooden Crate used by Stagehands as a step-up, a platform
for an Actor, a seat, a table, or a pedestal, and in any situation where
something or someone needs to be placed just a bit higher. The Box is hollow
and typically has a single, or preferably dual, slots in the centre of at
least two sides so that persons can grip and move/carry it with one hand.
Also known as an "Apple Crate", the name comes from the type and size of
Crates once used to transport Apples and other fruits before heavy cardboard
took over. Early on, actual wooden fruit boxes were painted and used
around stages. Today, performance ones are commercially available or are
built by the theatres themselves.
Some Apple Boxes are enclosed on all sides, while others have one face
(usually the largest) left open, not only as a weight saving measure, but
so the Box can be used as a container. A series of Boxes, each constructed
with one open side and in increasingly smaller sizes, can be nested for
space savings when being stored or transported.
Dimensions vary widely, but typical formats are 20cm X 40cm X 60cm
or 30cm X 60cm X 90cm. Each dimension is distinct so that the Box may be
placed in one of three differing height positions. Also, the size ratio of
these examples is 1-2-3 which means combinations of Boxes placed touching
one another can be made to be completely regular in shape. Another size
variation is where all dimensions are equal. These are often referred to
Improv Theatre often makes use of multiple Apple Boxes to
represent Sets, furniture, partitions, and objects. Groups of
these can easily be reconfigured as the story unfolds.
- (AY-pron) This is the Downstage part of the Acting Area,.
It lies in front of the main curtain, and in some cases, extends out over
the Orchestra Pit.
- (A. Q.) Short for "Audio Cue".
- The person that Adapts and/or Arranges Music usually written by someone
- Light sources that are grouped in a Fixture so as to achieve
more light output and/or more coverage. The sources can be LEDs,
Fluorescent Tubes, PAR Lamps, or other.
- Artistic Director
- The person that supervises the type of performances a Venue
or Production Company puts on. He or she often steers the
Selection Committee toward a certain style so as to provide
consistency in the minds of the public toward a particular Venue.
- A short passage of Dialogue spoken to the Audience that is
not noticed by the other characters on Stage. It's a form of
breaking the Fourth Wall.
- Attention Puller
- 1/ A method used to move the focus of the
Spectators to where it is desired. This might take the form
of a Lighting change, a loud sound, or a flourish by the
The extreme of this is to have the Attention Puller be such a
distraction as to compel the Spectators to look away from seeing
something that they are not to notice.
(See Misdirection and Vanish.)
- 2/ In advertising, an Attention Puller is a
way to make the public notice the Publicity for a Show. It
could be a fancy placard, a street barker (crier) dressed in
an unusual way, or a publicity stunt. Alternatively referred
to as an "Attention Getter".
- The Persons that come to see a performance. This term is used
somewhat interchangeably with House.
- Audio Designer
- The person who selects recorded sounds to be played or the live sounds
to be made. He or she may also be involved with the Audio system or the
mechanical sound effects used for a production in regards to their
individual components and/or how those systems are to be set up and used.
- Any Lighting that comes from positions Behind a performer or
(See the Lighting Position Diagram.
- The row of Amplifiers and Speaker Cabinets behind a Band.
- The space beyond the Off Stage area where at-hand equipment may
be kept that may or may not be used during a performance, but is used for
stage-related purposes. Also located here may be a Stage Manager's
desk, a Repair Tech's bench, and other stations that have immediate
necessities during a performance.
- A group of Musicians with no string section.
- A Beam-shaping device that sits in a Lighting Fixture's
Accessory Holder. It has two or four adjustable flaps that can
be used to block parts of the Beam to keep Light off certain
objects or areas. Most Barndoors are able to be rotated to allow a
greater accuracy of blocked areas.
- Bathing and Showering facilities provided for Performers and Crew.
- An old term for the Pipes or Bars that cross above the Stage
where Fixtures, curtains and other items are hung.
- Beam Angle
- Light emanating from a Fixture that spreads outward to a perimeter
which is at 50% of the highest central intensity denotes the Beam Angle.
For some PAR lamps or lensed Fixtures with inconsistent central
brightness, the chosen intensity figure may be an average of several
points. This middle number is then used to determine the Beam Angle.
- Beamlight / Beam Projector
- A Lensless Fixture with a large reflector and a shielded
Lamp that can be Focused to a spot or flood. At its
narrowest, it is often used to approximate moonlight. Rarely seen
in theatre lighting now.
- Beam Pattern
- The shape of the Beam (round, oval, or abstract), its edge distinctness
(sharp, diffuse, or choppy), its edge shape (regular or irregular), its
smoothness (whether there are "shadows" within the Beam).
- Beam Quality
- This refers to the Hard or Soft characteristic of Light.
Hard produces sharply defined shadows. Soft gives no, or loosely defined,
shadows, and with less detail.
- Beam Spread
- Essentially equivalent to the Field Angle of a Beam
of Light. Generally, it is used in a loose sense when discussing the
area covered by a Fixture's Beam at a given range: "This fixture
will Spread Light to about two metres at that distance."
- Bell Board
- A panel with various momentary switches used to control on-stage
telephones doorbells, and any similar devices. This panel may simply make
the required bell, chime, warble, or buzzer, as needed so as to represent
an Off-Stage device unseen by an Audience.
- Belt Pack
- Used with on-person microphones for Actors, and also with communications
headsets for crews. It controls the microphone off and on, and with the
latter, also the headphone volume.
- Black Box Theatre
- A location where the Spectators and Performers are in the same
space and the Acting Area is defined by black curtains.
- Black Art
- The procedure of employing one or more Black Curtains behind persons
covered in the same Black Fabric so as to make objects, persons, or parts
thereof not in Black appear to float in air or to magically appear and
disappear. This is done by simply presenting those objects toward, or
hiding them away from, an Audience. Careful Lighting is
the key to keeping the objects and persons in Black from being seen.
- 1/ Black pieces of fabric or curtains. Small ones
are used to cover objects that must remain hidden on Stage
until those objects are to be seen.
- 2/ Black clothing and footwear worn by the Stage
Crew during a performance.
- The choosing of Performers' locations on Stage as they
deliver certain lines, or in the case of a concert, where a
musician might stand to play a lead break. How and where
Performers enter and exit, and even where a hand might be placed
for a critical Lighting effect, are included under Blocking.
- Aluminum foil that is anodised matte black on both sides. It is used
to control Spill. Because it is flameproof, it can be used directly
on hot Fixtures. Also known as "Black Wrap".
- A general term for Light emitted in the Ultraviolet (UV)
Spectrum. Entertainment Fixtures of this type radiate in
long-wave UV, so are safe to use without eye and skin protection. Typical
stage Fixtures for this purpose use fluorescent, mercury vapour, or
- A method of combining Light Pools in a way that provides
smooth transitions among them.
- Blind Mode
- A State of a Lighting Board where the operator can make
adjustments to various settings of the Board itself, or to aspects
of its control of the Lighting on Stage without an Audience
being aware that anything is being changed. That is, to them, the
Lighting will not be altered, but the next time one of those updated
aspects appears live to the Audience, the changes will be apparent.
An example might be for an area that was too dark will be updated to
a brighter intensity in a Cue. This change won't take place
while that Cue's look is on Stage, but the next time it is used, the
increased intensity will be seen.
Another example is for a Cue's fade time that turns out to happen too
slowly. It would be adjusted, but only the next time that Cue is
Run, will it happen at the faster rate.
- The controller used by Audio, Effects, Lighting, or Video personnel
to adjust or operate the same. Also known as a "Desk".
- Board Operator
- The person who controls the Audio, Effects, Lighting, or Video
Board during a performance.
- Slang term for the Stage floor. The common phrase,
"Treading the Boards", means to act on a Stage.
- The Script with Dialogue, Stage directions, and Cues
for Lighting, Audio, and Crew tasks. The term is usually used in conjunction
with a Stage Musical to differentiate it from the Musical
- Book Flat
- See Flat.
- Border Curtain
- A short-height curtain that hides the Grid or a Batten
from the view of the Audience.
- A series of Lamps mounted in a rectangular Fixture that
are in a row -- typically providing three or four colours. These are
mounted above the Acting Area to provide general illumination of
Also known as "Striplights", and in the past as "Xrays".
- Light that reflects from illuminated objects. Although usually
unwanted, it can purposely be incorporated where extra softness is required,
or to disguise a Light Source's location.
- Bounce Cloth
- Usually white, non-shiny Material that is made to redirect Light
falling on it toward something that is seen by an Audience such as a
a performer, object or area. Type, colour, and reflectivity of surface, as
well as the Dimmer level of the Light Source(s) are used to control
This technique is particularly useful when employed to indirectly
illuminate translucent material that Spectators will see, but where the
Lighting Designer does not want to place a Fixture directly
behind this material. If that were to be done, the light source would be
visible through the cloth and create a hot spot.
- Box Office
- 1/ The location where tickets are sold that is
inside, or just outside, a Venue. The name stems from the
fact that the ticket booth was often little larger than the space
for the ticket seller, and her tickets and cash float, hence the
use of the word "box". Another source says the first word might
have derived from the box that contained the tickets and money.
- 2/ A second usage refers to the general number of
tickets sold in advance and at the door: "The Box Office was good
- 3/ A third is employed as a synonym for "success".
Examples: "She's Box Office now!" If a production is especially
good at drawing in the public and earning money: "That musical is
Box Office gold!"
- Break a Leg
- The origin is obscure, but today its literal meaning seems to be "Part
a Curtain" (Leg); that is, to enter the Acting Area. Some
also believe the phrase is related to the Leg Line.
At one time considered a superstitious uttering, it now genuinely means
"Good Luck!" or the same as "Have a good performance!"
- A short Cable with multiple circuits that has a multipin connector on
one end and connectors for each individual circuit on the other. In use it
is plugged into a longer multi-cable when access to each of that cable's
circuits is needed.
- A general term for Patterns that project an image of
amorphous shapes onto the Stage, Sets or Objects. It
literally Breaks Up the Light emanating from the Fixture.
- 1/ To construct the Set or a Prop.
- 2/ To increase the Intensity and/or Volume of
- 3/ To put together a sequence of Cues.
- 4/ To create a Lighting Look one
Channel at a time.
- The glass envelope of the Lamp, which is the Light Source of a
Fixture. "Bulb" is often inaccurately used to refer to the Light
- A Flash Button on a Lighting Board. As a verb, it means to
quickly bring one or more Fixtures to full intensity.
- (CAB-tire) A type of rubber- or neoprene-insulated Electrical Cable
used to make Extension or Line Cords. Typical designations are Types `S',
`SJ' and `SO'.
- 1/ The act of giving instructions to a Crew and
Performers during a show; that is, to "Call" the show. This duty
is typically carried out by the Stage Manager via a
- 2/ It also refers to a notification of Time. Some
- Acting Call: The Time when actors must be at
the theatre so that they can be in Costume and Makeup by
show time. Those with elaborate Costumes and/or Makeup
would have an earlier Call Time.
- Casting Call: A Day and Time when actors show
up to audition for various roles. This may include vocal
auditions for singers, and sometimes refers to auditions
- Crew Call: The Time when Audio, Lighting, Video
and Stage personnel must be at the theatre so that they
can ready their departments by show time.
- Dance Call: If elaborate choreography is part
of a performance, dancers might be asked to rehearse just
those parts before every show, or at least for the first
few shows after any days without performances. This is
done to stay proficient. Regardless, dancers would have
a Warmup Call before every performance to allow
them to stretch and warm their muscles.
- Fight Call: If one or more fight scenes are
included, those involved would have a Time specified to
be at the theatre to rehearse. It is usually done on the
Stage and might include weapons, and possibly
Costumes if the clothing restricts movement or is used
as part of the Fight choreography. As with the dancers
above, this is done to stay proficient at the required
moves, and it may not be done before every performance,
but these persons would still have a Warmup Call.
- Photo Call: The Time when, and Location where,
performers and major personnel involved in a production
must be for the purpose of publicity photos. These are
typically head shots of individuals that are used in the
program and on Lobby Cards, but also as part of
advertisements for posters, print media, television, and
Additional photos taken may be of full body shots to
show off Costumes, while others might pose a number of
performers together -- sometimes on the set with the
actual show Lighting.
- Stage Call: The Time when Actors must be in
place to make an entrance or otherwise be perceived
by the Audience.
- Warmup Call: See Warmup.
- 3/ Another usage of the term regards a "Curtain
Call". Originally, it was used for when the curtain had to be
reopened after it had closed following the bows taken by the
Cast at the end of a performance. Essentially, the
Audience was "calling" for the curtain to be opened again
so they could see the performers while continuing to applaud them.
Today, it is used to designate all bows taken after a performance.
- A Cart, erroneously called a Dolly is a platform, normally
rectangular in shape, that is mounted on four or more Casters,
two of which usually swivel. An attached or removable handle is at one
end. If there is an upright handle across one or both ends, it is a
"Platform Cart", while one with a pull handle is referred to as a
Another form of the Cart that has two or more shelves is referred to
as a "Service Cart". One of these with a spring-loaded, or fold-out short
ladder at one end as used by merchandisers is a "Stock Picker".
(See Dolly and Hand Truck.)
- Generally today, it means anyone that is performing on Stage.
This includes Actors, featured Singers, Chorus, and on-Stage
Musicians. However, in the past some interpreted it to mean only the
As a verb, `Cast' means to select an Actor for a role.
- A wheel that is mounted within a yoke which is attached to a plate or
a stud. The plate is bolted or screwed to an object that is to be moved.
The stud mount is threaded or inserted into a sleeve that is recessed
into the object.
Basic Caster types include Rigid and Swivel, Locking and Non-Locking.
(See a Discussion with Full Details:
- Caster Cups
- Dished, recessed Plates on the tops of Road Cases that provide a well
for each Caster of a case stacked on top. When cases are stacked
as level, Caster Cups prevent wheeled cases from drifting due to vibration,
and thus from rolling off one another.
- Casting Call
- See Call.
- (CAHT-ch) Not to be confused with Latch, this is a Hardware
Device that retains a Case lid, or similar, in a closed position until
released. Both actions must be manually implemented. The two types seen
most often in the Entertainment Industry are:
- Snap Catch: One that has a Loop or extended Hook that
can be pivoted to grab a Strike which secures the Catch
against releasing. Also known as a "Draw" or "Pull-Down" Catch.
Those having springs to provide extra holding strength are
called "Compression Catches".
- Butterfly Catch: One that has a small, metal plate (the
"Wing") able to be held by the fingers and rotated so as to extend
its Hook toward the Strike. At that point, it is pressed
into place and rotated the opposite way to engage the Strike. The
plate is then pivoted down flush against the rest of the Catch.
Also known as a "Wing" or "Turn" Catch.
Catches are further subdivided into Non-Locking and Locking types. The
latter have a Keyway or a Hexway (six-sided) opening to accept a Key or
a Hex driver, or have a Hexhead Bolt head that requires a Spanner (Box)
Wrench to open. The Key type permits the user to have Lock access, as is
seen on briefcases; the other two provide the same extra liability against
accidental opening during transit, but without the security of a unique
- 1/ An enclosed, narrow walkway above a Stage
or Seating Area. It typically houses electrical, lighting
or Fly System equipment.
- 2/ A walkway that extends from a Stage toward the
See Thrust Stage.
- C Clamp
- A metal Clamp in the shape of the letter `C' used by carpenters to hold
objects for sawing, gluing, or finishing work. Stagehands also use
these for holding scenery together, and to place and secure handy hooks or
bars to which they need to tie Cordage.
(See Pipe Clamp.)
- Centre Left
- The general area to Stage Left of Stage Centre.
- Centre Line
- Two imaginary lines running through the exact Centre Point of a
Stage. One runs Upstage and Downstage, the other
runs Stage Left and Stage Right. Some stages have these
Lines marked very faintly. In rehearsal spaces, a contractor's chalk
line can be used if no permanent Lines are there.
The purpose is usually to keep dancers in perfect lines, or mark
specific positions for solo dancers. The lines can also be used to align
the Set as it is being built.
- Centre Right
- The general area to Stage Right of Stage Centre.
- Centre Stage
- The general area in the Middle of a Stage. In cases when
someone is being very precise, Centre Stage is the actual Centre Point
of the Performance Area. Also referred to as "Stage Centre", and
also known as "Centre Centre".
- 1/ Each Circuit on an Audio Board that
controls one Microphone or other Audio input source is referred
to as a "Board Channel". For an input source other than a
microphone, the Channel is often referred to as a "Line Input",
which means the source generates a signal voltage at line level,
as opposed to the much lower output voltage of a microphone.
- 2/ Each Circuit on a Lighting Board that
controls one Dimmer is referred to as a "Board Channel".
- 3/ Each Dimmer in a Dimmer Pack that controls
one Fixture or group of Fixtures is referred to as a
- 4/ Each controllable attribute regarding
Intelligent Lighting is a Channel.
- Denotes when an Actor faces mostly, or fully, toward the Audience
even though directing dialogue at another Actor nearby. This is done so that
Spectators can hear what the Actor is saying. Otherwise the dialogue might
get lost to those looking at his back if he were to face away from those
It is also done to make viewable a movement or action to all Spectators
even if the Actor's position is an unnatural one.
- Chew the Scenery
- To Act in an exaggerated manner and draw non-humble attention to
- The Singers and Dancers in a Musical other than those in lead
- The part of the Musical Score given to individual Musicians
for parts played by them. An example might be "Horn Charts" that are
given to the brass players for the notes they are to play during certain
parts of a song.
- The person that designs the dance Routiness for a show. He
or she can also work with Actors to Choreograph fight scenes or
anything that requires precision movement.
- Chromatic Abberation
- (crow-MAH-tick ABB-er-ay-shun) The colour fringes around a
Light Pool that are caused by Lens Systems which don't Focus
all colours of the Spectrum to exactly the same points.
- 1/ To remove items or personnel from an area.
Roughly equivalent to Strike.
- 2/ To bring all Faders to zero within a
Preset of a Lighting Board.
- Clock-Face Directions
- In a Theatre in the Round situation, most specific Stage
directions cannot be used. This is because there are no stage directions
of left, right, up or down. To facilitate positioning, time positions on
an analogue clock are employed. Thus, 12 o'clock becomes Upstage,
6 o'clock becomes Downstage, 3 o'clock becomes Stage Left,
and 9 o'clock becomes Stage Right. At the start of rehearsals, a
point is designated to be 12 o'clock, and all other positions are
referenced to it.
- Cold Reading
- Reading aloud from a Script that an Actor has not seen
- Cold Reflector
- A Reflector that is Transparent to Infrared (heat) Radiation but
Reflects visible Light. So less heat is radiated in the Beam
making for longer Gel and Pattern life. Also referred to
as "Cold Mirror".
- Colour Boomerang
- A series of Gel Frames is placed in a holder that is typically
internal to a Fixture such as a Follow Spot. The Frames are
arranged in tandem, each with a handle that extends to an external location
where an operator may select one or more. Pressing down on any of the
handles will pivot that frame into the Beam. More known today as a "Colour
- Colour Changer
- A device fitted internally or externally to a Fixture
so as to provide a variety of Colours from that one Fixture.
This might take the form of:
- A Colour Scroller. This unit incorporates a series of cut
Gel squares or rectangles that are attached together to form a
continuous strip. This is wound on to a pair of rollers situated one to
each side of the Beam. The gel passes in front of the Beam from one roller
to the other until the desired colour is aligned.
- A Colour Wheel. A thin, flat wheel, usually made from metal, has
a series of holes cut around its perimeter the same size as the
Fixture's Beam diameter, each holding a different colour plus one
clear. It is turned by a motor with limit-switches that lock the wheel in
place as the desired colour comes into alignment.
Some systems use two wheels that are placed one in front of the other so
that a wider variety of colours is achieved through the subtractive process
of placing one colour in front of another.
- A Semaphore Changer. This is similar to a Colour Boomerang,
in that a series of Gel Frames is placed in a holder and arranged in
tandem. However, each is fitted with an electric solenoid and a return
spring. A controller allows one to select any frame or combination.
Energising a given frame position pivots the gel into the Beam. When the
voltage is turned off, the spring takes the frame out of the Beam where
it returns to its standby position.
- Colour Correction
- 1/ The procedure to filter various artificial
Light Sources so that their Colour Temperatures will
be the same, and so this will match the Colour Temperature
setting of the Video Camera or match the Colour Balance of Film
as set by its manufacturer.
- 2/ The procedure to filter Natural Light Sources
for the same reasons as above and also so they will match those
of artificial Light Sources being used at the same time. An example
of the former is daylight through windows.
- Colour Kit
- A case with Gel, Gel Frames, and Swatch Books used
for Touring Shows by the Lighting Director and/or Lighting Crew. Some
Kits may include Patterns and their Pattern Holders.
(For a complete discussion of this and other kits, see
- Colour Media
- Any filters that alter a Light Beam to be a Colour other than
its natural one. Broadly, it can include Cloth, Paper, Plastic
or Glass as a base for that Colour.
(See Colour Media Discussion.)
As used today, Diffusion, Reflection, Neutral Density, and
Polarising materials fall loosely under this term.
- Colour Pack
- See Colour Boomerang.
- Colour Scroller
- See Colour Changer.
- Colour Temperature
- A measurement used in the Lighting Industry and elsewhere that, in
simple terms, is a number given to how "white" a particular Light Source
appears to the eye. That number is determined by comparison with the physics
standard called a "Black Body".
Once a Black Body is heated enough, it radiates Light across a
part of the Spectrum. As it warms more, the Light it emits will
eventually take on the appearance of the particular Light Source to which
it is being compared. When the Black Body and the Light Source radiations
appear the same, the Light Source is assigned the value of the Temperature
of the Black Body at that moment. This value, in Kelvins (K), is now
the Light Source's "Colour Temperature" because it is the same as the
Temperature of the Black Body when both appear to be the same Colour.
Realise that these degrees refer to the actual Temperature of the Black
Body, not that of the Light Source. The Light Source only *appears* to be
that Temperature. An example is an LED. It can be held in one's hand but
could still have a Colour Temperature of 4000 degrees K. In general terms,
the higher the Colour Temperature, the "whiter" the Light appears.
- Colour Wheel
- See Colour Changer.
- An older term that applied to a Troupe of Actors, Musicians and Singers,
but was also applied loosely to include anyone that worked with a production
or traveled with a touring show.
- Complementary Colours
- Regarding Lighting, these are formed by the combination of any two
Primary Colours. The Complementary Colours are Cyan, Magenta, and
(See Primary and Secondary Colours Discussion.)
- Complementary Pigments
- Regarding Paints, Dyes and Inks, these are formed by the combination of
any two Primary Pigments. The Complementary Pigments are Red, Green,
(See Primary and Secondary Colours Discussion.)
- "Complimentary" -- Free tickets!
- The person that writes the Music, and sometimes the lyrics, for a
production. Adapting and/or arranging existing Music can also fall within
this person's prerogative under the title of "Arranger".
- One or more persons associated with the Show that are planted in an
Audience to clap, laugh, boo etc. at certain points. This is used
as Audience stimulation. Some Mentalists or Magicians use them to
act in a cooperative way so as to assist with a Routine or trick.
Also known as a "Stooge" or a "Plant".
- Connector Sock
- A black-coloured, cylindrical cloth Sleeve that is slipped over cable
connectors to make them less visible. The Sleeve's diameter is wide enough
to fit that of the electrical connectors, while the Sleeve's length is long
enough to cover both male and female connectors when they are mated. The
material is usually stretchy so that after placement it won't slip off
unintentionally, even when the connectors hang vertically.
- Contact Sheet/List
- A list of names with phone numbers and e-mail addresses, plus the title
or job of each person for that production.
- Flexible material that is made of twisted or woven strands such as
string, rope, or similar. Leather ties also come under this term.
For a discussion, see Cordage.)
- Costume Designer
- The person that chooses, or designs from scratch, the Clothing worn
by performers. From-scratch persons select the fabrics and colours, the
clothing accessories, and the jewellery. He or she may also do the actual
cutting and sewing of the fabrics, and in some cases make the jewellery.
Those that choose existing clothing, will often scour second-hand and
thrift stores for just that right piece. By mixing & matching, and by
modifying what has been found, just the right look will be achieved.
- Costume Master
- Person that oversees the Wardrobe of a particular production, but
falls under the Costume Designer. He or she is responsible for
keeping inventory, and doing alterations and repairs to the Costumes
during the Run. (Also referred to as the "Costumer".)
- Costume Parade
- Actors dress in full Costume, sometimes with full Makeup, and walk
around in front of the Director, Costume Designer and other
principals to determine the suitability of the Costumes for the Actor and
his or her Character. Sometimes the full Lighting and Set are
included to see how they fit with those elements, as well. Also known as a
- 1/ In Music, `Count' is related to the tempo
of the piece being played: "Give it a four Count, and then
- 2/ Regarding a Cue, a `Count' is
essentially a second in length: "When you see the lightning
effect, do a `3' Count and issue Audio Cue #41."
- Crew Call
- See Call.
- Cross Fade
- When one Lighting look fades down as another fades up, the
Lighting is said to "Cross Fade" between looks.
- The Control on a Board that executes a Cross Fade.
Some Boards have two Controls beside one another for this purpose so that
the Board Operator can separately time the look that is Fading out
differently from the time the other Fades in. This is known as a
He or she can also leave one control alone and by using the other control,
bring a second look in at the same time as the first. This is known as
- 1/ A path usually behind the Upstage
Set that allows Actors and Crew to get from one side of
the Stage to the other without being seen by Spectators.
Some theatres use a separate hallway behind the Stage as
- 2/ An audio filter system that directs a certain
frequency range to one output, while another range goes elsewhere.
Thus, the low-frequency range goes to bass speakers, while the mid
range goes to mid drivers, and the high range goes to tweeters.
- This happens in an Audio System when one channel picks up the sound of
another, usually at a much fainter level. An example is when a system such
as the house audio picks up the sound of the Headset System. This
usually is caused by a poor shield somewhere, a shield that is not properly
grounded, or when very high signal (audio) levels are traveling in
cables next to ones that are highly amplified.
A related example is when wireless components of an audio system pick up
and reproduce the audio portion broadcast on radio frequencies such as those
of taxicab dispatchers. This usually though, is referred to as "RF (radio
- See Apple Crate.
- An Action in a Script where something is to happen or be acted
upon. Examples include: a Lighting change, a Sound to be made, a
Set changes, or the moment where an Actor enters, exits, or performs
some action or specific dialogue.
- Cue Directive
- A Word or Phrase used to interpret action(s) as shown in a script.
These are listed and discussed as part of the
Cue Tips instructional
elsewhere at this website.
- Cue Point
- The exact instance that a Cue is to be implemented.
- Cue Session
- A time when Audio and/or Lighting Cues are put into the Boards
or Softwares. It is typically done without actors on stage.
- Cue Sheet
- A series of pages listing all the Cues in a show. Some people
like to have separate ones for Audio, Lighting, Music, Staging, etc. These
sheets allow one to see all the Cues in order with their designations or
numbers, Cue operational details, the Script page number where each appears,
and notes for those executing a given Cue.
- Cue Stack
- For an electronic memory Board or Software, this is the series
of Cues for Audio or Lighting that are Programmed into the
Board or Computer for a given production.
- Cue to Cue
- A rehearsal where the performers and Crew Run a Show starting
at the beginning and then jump to the first Cue Point. The events
surrounding that Cue are programmed into automated equipment, and their
implementation is rehearsed along with Actor Blocking and Crew
tasks and movements; then everyone moves to the next Cue Point by
skipping over or truncating the majority of dialogue, music and dancing
in between. (Also written as `Q2Q', and known as "Topping and Tailing" in
Costumes and Makeup are typically not included in a Cue to Cue unless a
fast change of one or both is required, which would have to be rehearsed
as part of certain Cues.
- Curtain Call
- See Call.
- Curtain Speech
- An introduction given by a producer, director, or other prominent person
before a performance begins. It is usually done on the Apron in front
of a closed curtain.
- A free-standing Scenery item, such as a lamp-post, that is cut to the
right shape, and then painted as a real lamp-post might be. Although some
might have attachments, Cut-Outs are essentially two-dimensional in nature.
- (SY-clor-am-ah) `Cyc' (Sike) for short, this is a (usually) curved,
white, smooth surface that is illuminated to typically represent sky.
Materials can be rigid or be a tensioned fabric. Erroneously used to refer
to any white curtain, and sometimes to a curtain, regardless of colour,
placed at the extreme Upstage.
- Dance Call
- See Call.
- Dark Theatre/Stage
- A Night when the no Actors or Crew are working in the Theatre.
- Date Tag
- To place a label on a Fixture with a Date on it to indicate
when the Lamp was last changed. The purpose is to keep track of
Fixtures that may be causing premature burnouts and thus not allowing
a Lamp to achieve its Rated Lamp Life.
- Dead Blackout
- A point where there is a sudden, instantaneous change to absolutely no
Light on Stage.
- Dead Hang
- To hang equipment from the ceiling or girders/trusses not on a pulley
or chain motor system. One must use a ladder or lift to reach such
equipment unless it is hung from a Catwalk.
- Dead Spot
- 1/ An area where Sound levels unwantedly are well
below the average desired level in the Seating Area, or in
the case of Stage monitors, well below the desired level
required by performers on a given area of the Stage.
- 2/ Areas where Light levels unwantedly fall
below those of their surroundings.
- Decimal Cue
- In Lighting this is a Cue that is inserted between two
others. So if one is added between LX14 and LX15, it might be designated
Also known as a "Point Cue" or "Insert Cue".
- British term for a Lighting or Audio Board.
- (die-CROW-ick) A coating on transparent material such as glass. It
blocks or reflects certain Colour Frequencies while transmitting others.
This transmittance is within a narrow range, so essentially only one colour
gets through, making this filter "purer" than typical Gel.
- The proper Pronunciation and Enunciation of Dialogue by an Actor so it
may be understood by the Spectators.
- (dif-FYOU-shun) A type of colourless Gel or woven material that
is Translucent, so Light gets through but is softened. It has
the effect of widening the Light source, as well. (Sometimes referred to
as "Frost Gel".)
- The device that controls the voltage going to the Lamp in a
Fixture. The Dimmer itself is controlled by a Fader on a
Board or by Computer Software. Each Dimmer is considered as one
- Dimmer Curve
- The amount of voltage, and thus Light output, from a Dimmer
as its control Fader is adjusted. Desired curves for live
performances have the full range of Light spread over the entire Travel of
the control. In addition, the control Position should coincide with Light
Output. Thus, placing the Fader at `5' or `50%', should result in half
intensity from a given Fixture as seen by the eye.
Dimmer Curves for film and video are often different to coincide with the
response of those media.
- Dimmer Pack
- A package of more than one Dimmer. Typically, four, six, eight
or twelve Dimmers are in one pack, but other numbers can be had. The Pack
includes electrical and control inputs, along with an electrical output per
- Dimmer Rack
- A metal or wooden container that holds one or more Dimmer Packs.
It typically includes electrical input terminals for main power and
distribution of this to each Pack; electrical output to individual
Outlets per Dimmer Channel; and control distribution to each
Pack from the Lighting Board.
- One who guides the production with a common, cohesive
vision. He or she works in concert with the Producer,
the Writer, the Stage Manager, the Composer
and/or Musical Director, and the designers (Audio,
Lighting, Costumes, Set, etc.) so as to create a finished
product ready for a viewing Audience.
- To secretly dispose of something that must become, and usually remain,
hidden. Also, to remove an object from the view of an Audience. A
Ditch might be required when a Magician must remove a gimmick he used to
fool the Spectators, or an Actor must "eat" something that he cannot
- (D. M. X. Five Twelve) The Digital Standard for controlling a Lighting
Board, Intelligent Lighting, Accessories such as
Colour Scrollers, and related Special Effects such as
DMX' stands for "Digital Multiplex", while the `512' refers to 512 bits
- This is a round or rectangular platform on four or more Casters
some, or all, of which swivel. It has no pull or upright handles, but can
have a tether attached.
(See Cart and Hand Truck.)
- (DOW-ser: rhymes with `wow-ser') A mechanical dimmer in a
Followspot that works by introducing an Opaque plate into
the Beam to varying degrees.
- Double Up
- Refers to an Actor who plays more than one Character in a show.
Sometimes called "Doubling".
- The location in the Seating Area that is toward the direction
of the Stage.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Downhouse Centre
- The Central area of the House as referenced from the Spectators'
point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Downhouse Left
- The area toward the Left Front Corner of the House as referenced
from the Spectators' point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Downhouse Right
- The area toward the Right Front Corner of the House as referenced
from the Spectators' point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- A Fixture pointed straight down to create dramatic Toplight
on Actors or Sets.
- The area toward the Front of the Stage.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Downstage Centre
- The area toward the Middle Front of the Stage.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Downstage Left
- The area toward the Left Front Corner of the Stage as referenced
from the Actor's point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- A person who assists Actors to get in and out of Costumes. This person
may also perform Costume care duties.
- Dress Kit
- Small curtains or Skirts that are used to frame a puppet
stage or a video screen.
- Dress Rehearsal
- A rehearsal that includes all elements which would be seen and heard
during an actual performance in front of an Audience.
- D Ring
- A steel ring in the shape of a `D' that is used in conjunction with an
Anchor Plate or a strap. Sash Cord, Set Wire, or
Snap Hooks can be quickly attached or removed as necessary. Sometimes
referred to as a "Tie-Down Ring".
- An Individual speaker component. Each cabinet may have one or more Bass,
Mid Range, or High Frequency Drivers. A mid- or high-range Driver is
typically a small speaker attached to a horn that pushes and pulls air
through that horn to produce those frequencies. Bass Drivers may be horn
coupled to the air, but often radiate directly.
- Drop Box
- A box mounted above the Stage that contains confetti, snow, or
other light-weight items. The box is able to open and spill its contents
to the floor below. This operation may be handled directly by a Crew
member, or it may be set up to open electrically.
- Drop Pipe / Drop Rod
- A pipe or threaded rod that hangs vertically, or nearly so, from a
Lighting Grid, Truss or Track. It allows Fixtures clamped
or bolted to it to shine from angles not available from the mounting
- Effects Projector
- A device capable of projecting realistic Fire, Moving Clouds or Rain
on to a backdrop or Set.
- Effects Slot
- See Gate.
- The Light emitting device within an LED Lighting
Fixture. Individual LEDs are often grouped together into Arrays
so as to achieve more light output and/or more coverage.
- A Fixture that illuminates via a combination of a Reflector in
the shape of an Ellipse and one or more Plano-Convex Lenses. Given
the properties of an Ellipse, the Light Source is at the focal point of the
Reflector which gathers the Light from that Source and sends it to
the Lens System which is at the other focus. There, it is received and
directed with a sharp Beam cutoff onto the Stage.
Most such Fixtures have internal Shutters that can be slid
into the Beam to shape it to fit a desired area or object. Known as a
"Profile Spot" in the UK.
Modern versions use a reflector that is not an exact ellipse, or they
combine an elliptical shape with spherical and/or parabolic curvatures to
more efficiently direct as much Light as possible to the Lens System.
- Refers to a control on a Lighting Board that operates a
Dimmer or group of Dimmers.
- Field Angle
- Light emanating from a Fixture that spreads outward to a perimeter
which is at 10% of the highest central intensity denotes the Field Angle.
For some PAR lamps or lensed Fixtures with inconsistent central
brightness, the chosen intensity figure may be an average of several points.
This middle number is then used to determine the Field Angle.
- Fight Call
- See Call.
- The Light emitting straight or coil of wire within a
- Filament Line
- A small gauge, almost invisible, thread-like Line that is used to
hang light-weight objects where the method of suspension must be hidden
from the Audience. It can also be used to glide an object over the
Stage or to surprise an Audience. An example might
be to Fly a `ghost' off the Stage and out over the heads
of the Spectators.
Magicians also use this product to make items appear to float, or when
tied to an object with a counterweight on the opposite end of the line, to
have that object rush from the Magician's hands to a hidden location. This
produces a Vanish as viewed from the perspective of the Spectators.
Also known as "Monofilament Line".
- Final Focus
- The Final time the Fixtures are adjusted before opening night.
It is usually the last chance to compensate for changes in Blocking,
alterations to the Set or Set Pieces, and to clean up any
- Fine Focus
- To adjust a Fixture very precisely regarding how it illuminates
a given person, item or area.
- An Instrument, Lantern, Luminaire or Unit used for Stage or
- A Scenery panel with no relief; that is, it is flat. It can be a frame
with a painted canvas covering for light weight purposes, or the covering
can be hardboard for durability. Flats may be supported by wires from above
(flown), or floor supported by bases with Sandbag ballast or by being
attached directly to the Stage floor or platforms.
Some specific types are:
- Book Flat:  This is two Flats butted along
their vertical edges and hinged so that when opened at a 45-degree
angle, will stand without support. These are used when fast scene
changes are required. Some of these use restricted hinges that
won't allow the opening to approach 180 degrees so as to prevent
the Flat from falling over. These Flats can be folded to half their
open width for travel or storage.
Others are designed to be opened to 180 degrees and
are then supported in various ways. As above, these Flats can be
folded closed for travel or storage.
- Quad Flat:  This is four Flats butted along
their vertical edges and strapped together to form a tall,
enclosed box. Each side has a different scene or paint scheme.
It is usually on wheels so that fast scene changes can be
accomplished by turning and butting multiple Quad Flats together.
- Triangle Flat:  Here, three Flats are butted
along their vertical edges and strapped together to form a Triangle.
Each side has a different scene or paint scheme. Also usually on
wheels so that fast scene changes can be accomplished by rotating
and butting multiple Triangle Flats together.
- Flat Field
- Refers to the Light Pool (usually of an Ellipsoidal)
that has a regular intensity across its width.
- 1/ An unwanted Reveal of something for a
brief instant. An example might be an actor that accidentally
allows a knife or gun in his coat to be seen before the Spectators
are to know he has it. Another example is a magician that while
manipulating a deck of cards accidentally `flashes' one that he
wishes to keep secret.
- 2/ A Special Effect created by explosive
powder or lighting.
- 3/ See Bump.
- Flash Button
- See Bump.
- Flash Powder
- A Chemical Powder that, when ignited electrically or by flame,
produces a Pyrotechnic (Firework) effect of a bright, usually high
Colour Temperature Light of short duration, accompanied
- A type of air-tight Roadcase that has a Valve used to equalise internal
and external air pressures after a Flight from a low-altitude location
to a high-altitude one, or vice versa.
- Floor Base
- A small, flat or slightly raised platform with a hole in it by which
a Fixture can be mounted. These are used when illumination must
come from below, upward from out of a box, or sideways from an enclosure.
- Floor Box
- See Quad Box.
- Floor Light
- A Fixture or group of Fixtures mounted on, or low to, the floor.
See Footlights and Groundrow.
- Floor Pocket
- A sunken area in a Stage Floor that is large enough to hold one or two
electrical Outlets or a coil of cable with an attached Outlet.
It is covered with a plate that has slots in one or more edges to
allow cables to go through when closed. Known as "Dips" in the UK.
- (flor-ES-sence) As regarding Lighting, Fluorescence is the effect of
Ultraviolet radiation emanating from a mercury vapour arc and
exciting a coating which reradiates Light in a broad, visible range.
Some white LEDs use this method, as well.
- When Scenery or other items are to be suspended above the Stage,
it is said to "Fly" them. Use "Flown" when present participle or past
tense Is needed: "The platform is flown above the set."
"Fly" also refers to the act of Flying an item in or out of view during
a Performance. The ropes/cables, pulleys, and motors (if used) are called
the "Fly System".
- Fly Person
- In a motorised Fly system, this is the person that handles the
control Board which moves Scenery and other items in and out of view
of the Spectators.
In a manual rope & pulley system, this person oversees the Crew that
handles the raising and lowering of items. Sometimes, this person is referred
to as the "Fly Master".
- Fly Space/Gallery
- This refers to the space above a Stage where hanging Scenery
or other Flown items reside when they are not lowered to the floor. It
includes the pulley and cable systems used to raise and lower items
- Fly System
- The cables, pulleys and harnesses that allow items (or people) to be
Flown in or out of a scene. Older systems required that hoisting be done
by several Stagehands, but then came to use counterweights to allow
one person to do the work. Modern systems use electric hoists.
- Foam Board / Foamcore
- A flat board of polystyrene surfaced on each side with coated paper.
It is very light weight and used as a reflector, for mounting
advertisements, as a Light shield, and many other purposes.
- Focal Length
- The distance from a particular point of a Reflector or Lens
to where its light is at smallest (most precise) Focus. For
lensed Theatre Fixtures, the number is taken from the centre
of the Lens System to that Focus Point, and the longer that distance,
the narrower the Beam.
(See Fixture Calculations.)
- To point a Fixture in the desired direction using that Fixture's
Pan and Tilt controls. In addition, a lensed Fixture may
require to have its Beam adjusted to Spot or Flood and Hard or Soft edge.
The adjustment of Beam-shaping accessories such as Barndoors,
Funnels, Shutters, Snoots etc. is included in the
- Fog Machine
- A device that emits a stream of visible vapour via the heating and
pressurisation of a chemical liquid, or one that produces visible water
vapour by the fast chilling of hot water with dry ice (frozen carbon
Often erroneously called a "Smoke Machine", although no actual smoke
- (F. O. H.) See Front of House.
- Follow Cue
- A Cue that comes immediately after another Cue. It usually is
not separately Called, but is bundled with the Call for the
previous Cue. For automated Audio or Lighting systems, a timer counts down
and executes the Follow Cue `n' seconds later.
- A moveable Spotlight on a stand or railing stud that is usually
manually Panned so as to track a moving Performer. It is also used
to illuminate a particular object such as a mirror ball.
Typically included is a Colour Boomerang to Colour the Beam, and
an Iris to reduce the Beam size. Some units have an
Accessory Holder for special attachments such as a Lobsterscope.
- Rows of Fixtures or Striplights embedded at the
Downstage edge which illuminate from below. These are good for
filling in eye-socket and under-nose shadows, but are rarely seen in
modern Stages unless they are being used for a Blacklight
or other effect.
See Floor Light.
- 1/ A Magician's manipulation that sees a Spectator
pick a card or object which the latter believes to be a free
choice, but which is actually the Magician's preference.
- 2/ A ploy or action used to manipulate one or
more Spectators into saying what the Actor wants, or to
believe one thing while something else is actually the case.
An example of the latter might be in a Participation Play
where an Actor appears to place a murder weapon into a box on a
shelf, as "freely" suggested by an Audience Member, but in
reality is dropped into a hidden compartment. Later, the box is
found to be empty even though it has been in plain sight of the
For such purposes, a number of obvious hiding places have been
pre-chosen and Gaffed by the Stage Crew so as to be able to
fool the person(s) suggesting those places. Dialogue and Actions
are then used to "Force" a Spectator to select one of those
- Forced Perspective
- A technique used in Set design whereby angles are exaggerated
and/or altered to make it appear as though objects and walls are farther
away, or closer, than they actually are. Included in this approach are
exaggerated and/or altered shadow lines and areas. These serve to heighten
the illusion. As well, objects and walls might also be made to appear
lengthened or shortened using this method. Complementary Lighting
design is used to finalise the desired effect upon an Audience's
perception of what they are viewing.
The usual purpose for using Forced Perspective is to have a Set
on a small stage appear to be larger or deeper than it is. A highly
exaggerated form of this is used for comedic, almost cartoonish, effect.
Persons designing illusions for magic shows often use Forced Perspective
to make cavities, boxes or containers appear to be smaller than they are.
This is so that persons or objects may be hidden behind panels or curtains
within, yet from an Audience's viewpoint, there is not enough room
for them to fit.
- Fourth Wall
- A pretend "wall" between the Actors and their Audience during
a performance. It might represent the Fourth Wall of a room, or the
outdoors beyond where the Actors are standing. Actors pretend the
Spectators are not there and interact with this "wall" as though that
side of the room and its contents are actually there, or they talk of
things off in the distance if they're supposed to be outdoors.
In Performance Areas where Spectators sit on more than one side,
those "Walls" between them and the Actors are still considered as
To "Break the Fourth Wall" means to acknowledge Spectators exist, or to
talk directly to them.
- Frame Holder
- See Accessory Holder.
- (freh-NELL) A Fixture that uses a Fresnel Lens to project a
soft-edged Beam which can be adjusted to a spot or a flood.
The Fresnel Lens was invented for lighthouse usage in the 1700s
by Augustin-Jean Fresnel. Its modern Stage version has a series of
concentric rings on a flat, glass surface that gather light and project
- Front Light
- Any Lighting that comes from positions Ahead of a performer or
(See the Lighting Position Diagram.
- Front of House
- Typically referred to by its initials of `FOH', this specifically
means the Seating Area in a Venue, but also used generally
to include many or all of a Venue's public areas.
- Front of House Staff
- Those who deal with the public including Ticket Sellers, Bar Staff,
Ushers, Washroom Attendants, etc.
- A tapered cylinder (cone) that starts at the same size diameter as the
Light Beam of a Fixture and narrows somewhat as it extends
farther out. It fits into the Accessory Holder so as to shield side
Spill more so than a Snoot, but also to narrow the Beam.
- A gimmicked Prop or Set Piece built to appear as
a real object, but which actually accomplishes something else.
- Gaffer Tape
- Often shortened to "Gaff", this is a matte-finish, cloth-backed
tape with superior adhesive. It is used whenever an item needs to be
held and reflections must not occur. General, temporary repairs are
often made with this product.
Beware of people naming any cloth-backed tape as "Gaff". Not all such
tapes are actual Gaffer Tape.
(See Adhesive Tape Discussion.)
- 1/ An opening above the optics train of an
Ellipsoidal or Effects Projector that allows access to
the space between a reflector and a lens, or between individual lens
elements. It is used to insert a Pattern or effect that must
be projected. Sometimes referred to as "Pattern Slot" "Gobo Slot" or
Other examples of devices with Gates are projectors for slides,
motion pictures, or filmstrips.
- 2/ See Gross.
- G Clamp
- See Pipe Clamp.
- A general term for plastic Colour Media. It is short for
"Gelatin", the first plastic Colour Filter for the Theatre. As a verb,
it means to place a Colour, or other Filter, in front of a Light
- Gel Frame
- A flat Frame that sandwiches a cut piece of Gel to keep it
rigid in front of the Fixture and to prevent it bending or curling.
An opening the size of the Beam allows Light to pass through the Gel
to illuminate the desired object or area. Frames can be made of metal,
fibre or plastic.
- This means a Dimmer that is not properly bottom trimmed; that
is, it places too much Preheat voltage on a Lamp when its
control Fader is set to zero. This creates an unwanted soft glow on
- Glass Box
- An enclosed metal box containing broken glass that is thrown around
Off Stage to simulate a crash or actual glass breaking. This
is mostly superseded today by a prerecorded audio track.
- Glow Tape
- Adhesive Tape that absorbs radiation and re-emits it in the dark as
visible Light. It is used to show positions or emphasise items to
Actors and Crew on a dark Stage. Examples might be to designate a
mark where an Actor must be before the lights come up, or to define a walk
or stairway that must remain unlit at some point during a performance. Crews
might use it to highlight an electrical switch or warn of a trip hazard.
(See Adhesive Tape Discussion.)
- (GOH-boh) Originally an Opaque flag or shield used in the motion
picture industry, the term has come to mean a Pattern.
(See Pattern Projection.)
- Go Button
- A momentary Push Button on a programmable Lighting Board that
executes the next Cue.
A similar idea is used by Audio Software that automates the running of
sound Cues, except that the "Go" button is usually the Space Bar
or "Enter" key of a computer keyboard.
- God Mic
- See Talkback Mic.
- A person whose job is to run errands for various persons connected with
a production. The name stems from the phrase "go for".
- Usually refers to the pipe framework where Stage Fixtures hang
for a production, but can refer to a Lighting Truss setup, and more
generally to the area above a Stage where anything hangs.
(See Fly Space.)
- This is the total amount received by the Box Office from advance
and at-the-door ticket sales. For the purposes of figuring
Percentage Deals, taxes may or may not be subtracted first, depending
on the exact agreement with the Artist or Production Company.
Referred to as the "Gate" at an arena, exhibition grounds, or stadium.
- A floor-mounted strip of reflectors with Lamps or using `R'
floodlamps where every third or fourth one is the same colour. Typically
used to illuminate backdrops or Cycloramas.
See Floor Light and Footlights.
- A Stagehand or truck loader that does heavy work.
- Hand Truck
- Erroneously called a Dolly, this is an upright, metal frame on
two wheels with a rectangular plate between the wheels at floor level.
In operation, a worker grips the top of the frame and manoeuvres the
plate to slide it under an object to be moved. The frame is then tipped
backward so as to raise the plate and balance the load between the wheels,
whereupon it is able to be transported.
Some Hand Trucks have a second set of wheels near the top of the
frame so that when the Hand Truck is lowered on to its back, it
can be converted to a Platform Truck.
(See Cart and Dolly.)
- Hang Point
- A Position where a Fixture, audio cabinet, or other object
is attached above a Stage or other location.
- Alternate title for the Leader of a particular department such as
Costumes or Props. A Female Leader of such departments was,
and sometimes still is, referred to as "Mistress". A Male Leader
was referred to as "Master". Today, all genders typically come
under the title of "Master" or "Head", although old-timers will often
still differentiate due to habit.
- Headset System
- A closed-circuit communications setup used by the Show Director or
Stage Manager to give instructions to the Board Operators,
and to the FOH and Backstage Crews. It consists of a set of
headphones and microphone for each participant with a controller box
called a Belt Pack.
The Show Director or Stage Manager typically has a "Base Station"
that can switch between two or more Channels of Headsets. Thus, he
or she can independently talk with Stagehands versus the FOH
Audio and Lighting Operators/Crews.
- The area in which Patrons sit. It includes all
Seating Areas that have a view of the performance
wherever those seats may be.
Also used to denote ticket sales numbers: "We had a sell-out House
- House Left
- The area in the House to the Spectators' Left.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- House Manager
- The person that oversees everything related to Patrons: Ticket
Sales, Bar, Concessions, Ushers, etc.
- House Right
- The area in the House to the Spectators' Right.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- (IM-prov) Short for "Improvisational". A style of Acting where the
participants Make Up the Words, Actions, and Locations as they go along.
- In Character
- The playing of a part in a way that includes mannerisms, voice
attributes, idiosyncrasies, and general movement which all define the
given role, and that is different from the actor's own personality.
- Intelligent Lighting
- Usually meaning Fixtures with Moving Beams, it has become a
blanket term that refers to most digitally controlled items that are
related to Lighting such as Colour Changers, Strobe Lights,
Fog Machines etc. All of these have electronic circuitry that
controls the units, and many have processors that provide a myriad
of abilities and features.
- In the Round
- 1/ A Stage or Performance Area with
Spectator seating on all sides.
- 2/ An impromptu performance that might take
place outdoors, such as at a Busker event, or indoors in a
large area such as an arena surface, where the Spectators
stand around the performers.
- The Period between Acts of a performance. Known as "Interval" in the
UK, and referred to as a "Break" for the period between Sets of
a Band's repertoire.
- Invitational Dress
- A show Preview to be seen by persons (usually family and friends,
but often also media or important industry people) that are requested to
attend at no admission fee by the production's participants. It is a full
Dress Rehearsal used to gauge the Laugh Points and/or
Applause Points, along with their lengths, so that the
Director and/or actors can create or adjust pauses in dialogue and
action to accommodate Audience reaction.
(Sometimes referred to as "F&F Night", and by the grammatically
incorrect "Invited Dress".)
This Rehearsal with a live Audience is also used by the Show Caller
(usually the Stage Manager), and the Board Operators,
Conductor, Stage Crew, etc. to better the timing precision of
Cue Points as dictated by Audience reaction.
- A set of Opaque, interlocking stainless-steel Leaves housed in a
circular frame that can open or close while keeping a central round opening.
Thus, the opening's size is variable. Typically used in Followspots
to reduce the Beam-size circle at a given distance.
- (ih-TAL-ee-an) A rehearsal where actors recite their lines of Dialogue
as fast as possible without doing much, if any, acting. In most cases,
it is done as a sit-down rehearsal. The purpose is for actors to know their
lines of Dialogue without relying on Visual or other Cues except the
lines preceding their own.
- Jukebox Production
- A Stage Musical that uses already-known Popular Music as its
soundtrack or as its principal reason for being. "Mama Mia" is an
example of the latter.
- A door or doorway on one or both sides of the Apron to allow
access by Actors to that area of the Stage.
The term seems to have come from the play "Romeo and Juliette" where
Juliette had to enter a Downstage door to gain access to her balcony
which in most of these productions is typically located Downstage Left or
- (kay) An abbreviation of "kilo", it represents the number `1000'. So
a 1k Lamp is one that consumes 1000 watts. In computer terms, `kB'
stands for "kilobytes".
Note that this abbreviation is to be in lower case. An upper-case `K'
stands for "Kelvins", a measurement of temperature.
- Kee Klamp
- A brand name of a British company product which is a steel or aluminum
Fitting that enables the assemblage of structures using pipe such as for a
Lighting Grid or guard rails. These Fittings clamp to pipe by the
usage of set screws having hex (six-sided) sockets, so one can easily build,
adjust, or take down structures using them.
- Keyboard Rehearsal
- A Rehearsal that does not include a production's band or orchestra, but
instead has one musician playing a keyboard that often can emulate the
required sounds of the full band/orchestra. This is done so that singers and
dancers can practise with the music as it will be played, but without tying
up an entire ensemble of musicians, thus saving the production some money.
Before electronic keyboards, this was referred to as a "piano rehearsal".
- Key Light
- A television lighting term that some theatrical
Lighting Designers/Directors use in place of the term Special
when it denotes an Actor's main illumination.
- Often used erroneously to refer to a Fixture itself;
it is actually the Light Source of that Fixture.
- Lamp Alignment
- The process of moving the Lamp around within the Fixture
by adjusting the mounting hardware of its Socket. This is done so
as to have the Filament line up with the Fixture's optics so as to
produce the desired Beam intensity and smoothness. This is when
Flat Field or Peak Field (or somewhere in between) is set.
Fixtures have either Screwdriver adjustment screws or one or two
hand-operated adjustment knobs to achieve this.
- Lamp Code
- The three letters used to identify a Lamp. It is a short form of
the longer lamp description, and although arbitrarily assigned, the code
often follows a pattern for lamps of a given family.
An example is the code for a Q1000/4CL. It is `FEL'. An
example of a Lamp Family is the one for 1000-watt, high output
PAR Lamps: FFN, FFP, FFR and FFS. These make up the `FF' family.
- The part of a Fixture that houses its Lamp. It often has
a hinged or removable cover, or an access plate. In some cases, the entire
end of the Fixture is removable bringing with it the Lamp, and its
Socket and Electrics. Sometimes the latter is referred to as the
- Lamp Sock
- A transparent, cylindrical piece of plastic that is slipped over the
Bulb of the Lamp so that finger oils will not come in contact
with the glass. If these are on the Bulb when the Lamp is being used, heat
will cause the glass to darken. If this happens to a Quartz Halogen
Lamp, it will interfere with the Halogen cycle. In both cases, lower
Light output and shorter Lamp life will result.
- Not to be confused with Catch, this is a spring-operated
Hardware Device that is used to automatically secure hinged items. It
is pushed back as the hinged item is closed by rubbing against a
Strike, then springs on its own into a recess to hold itself closed
until it is manually or electrically released. The most common example is
a Door Latch.
- Laugh Point
- See Applause Point.
- (L.E D.) Light Emitting Diode. An electronic device that emits
Light when a DC (Direct Current) voltage is applied in the correct
polarity. Each device can be "tuned" to radiate in a specific colour range,
even in the Ultraviolet.
- Leg Line
- The boundary behind which no part of Backstage Actors and Crew
can be seen by Spectators. It is often designated on the floor by a strip of
Adhesive Tape, or it can be a painted strip.
- Staggered, vertical curtains that hide the Wings of a
Stage. The staggering allows space for Performers to enter and
- Wrongly spoken of as a Podium, a Lectern is a small upright
desk from behind which someone might Lecture or MC a show.
- A Trade Name, along with `Lekolight', as used by Strand for some
of their Ellipsoidal lines.
- (lih-BRET-toh) In Opera or Musical Theater, this is
- Usually used interchangeably with Fixture, it refers to the
visible radiation emitted by that Fixture.
- Light Bar
- A Bar or Pipe with a group of Fixtures bolted or clamped to it.
Each Fixture is spaced from the other far enough to allow enough panning
during Focusing. A specific one using only PAR Fixtures is
typically spoken of as a "PAR Bar".
- The looks portrayed by the combinations of Fixtures,
Beam Quality, Colour, Direction and Intensity used to Illuminate
all that is associated with a Performance.
- Lighting Designer
- One who decides upon the Fixtures required to light a production.
In addition, the Beam Quality, Colour, Direction, Intensity, and the
Placement of those Fixtures is decided by this designer. Some
Special Effects may also fall within this person's realm. This might
happen if the Effects are Lighting related, or if they require
certain Lighting in order to be fulfilled.
- Lighting Director
- The person who directs how the Lighting is to be used.
Intensities, fade times, and the particular usage of one or more
Fixtures at a given moment fall under this person's prerogative,
but this is often tempered by the requirements of the
Lighting Designer, the Director and other principals involved.
It is not unusual that the Lighting Designer also handles this
aspect of a production.
- Lighting Gloves
- Workgloves that are heat resistant to allow the Focus of
Lighting Fixtures while keeping the user's hands from being
burned. Sometimes referred to as "Focus Gloves".
(See Work Gloves Guide.)
- Lighting Plot
- A hand- or template- drawn, computer-printout, or computer-screen
representation of where the Lighting Fixtures will hang for a
given production. It usually includes, but is not limited to, Fixture
types, wattages, Gel colours, and Beam Spread.
- Lighting Wrench
- A specialty tool that has common sizes and shapes for the Hardware and
Fittings on Fixtures, Pipe Clamps and related equipment. It
enables a Crew Member to possess one tool that will fit a variety of
Hardware without having to adjust for each piece. Some models of these
wrenches are small enough to fit within a shirt pocket.
(Sometimes called a "Stagehand Wrench".)
- Light Ladder
- A frame with cross pipes onto which Fixtures may be hung.
Typical versions have two or three pipes with enough room to hang two
fixtures beside one another per pipe.
In use, the Ladder is suspended below a main pipe or other support, and
is often able to be swiveled to assist with Focus angles.
- Light Pool
- The Illumination on a surface, as provided by a single or multiple
Fixtures, that shows a defined area of light.
- Light Shield
- Fixtures have holes in various locations to allow heat to escape.
So as to limit or prevent Light leakage from them, there are also
internal or external metal shields that stand off the fixture to allow air
flow but block direct Light Spill from the back and top.
Some Fixtures also have a round metal plate with an opening for the
Socket assembly. This limits or prevents Light from escaping
- Lime Light
- A long obsolete type of Fixture that burned blocks of Lime within
a ventilated housing and location. It produced a very intense,
- Line Input
- See Channel.
- The technique of illuminating a Performer from the front with no
other Light -- especially when only one Light Source is used. The
Performer is seen in front of a black background, which distance away is
hard to discern, thus he appears to be "nowhere".
- When used as a verb, it means to place one or more items into an
Action Prop so that when the Prop is activated, the items
will appear to the Spectators or cause another action. An example might
be a crystal ball used for a seance scene might have a lighting effect
which is activated by the actor portraying the medium, then activating
another to have, say smoke or a streamer, come out of the prop.
As a noun, "Load" is the item(s) itself. "Has the Load been placed
into the crystal ball for Scene II?"
Magicians also use this term for the same purpose. A series of hidden
pockets might be Loaded with billiard balls that the performer magically
produces, seemingly right out of the air.
- Loading Dock
- The location where equipment is moved into and out of a Venue.
To facilitate the movement of large items, it usually has wide and tall
double doors, or a roll-up door. It is often isolated by compartments or
Stripdoors so as to maintain the building's internal temperature.
The Dock is typically level with the Stage floor; if not, there
is a ramp, or if on different floors, a freight elevator travels between
On or near the Dock will be items such as Carts, Dollies,
Forklifts and Hand Trucks to facilitate easy equipment moving.
Venue supplies can come in through here, but large complexes will often
have separate Loading Docks or entrances for these so as to not interfere
with the performance end of the business.
- Lobby Card
- A stand-alone or wall Display in a Venue Lobby that has photos
of the principal actors in a production, but can include pictures of the
Director, Designers, and other major personnel. Additional images
may include full- or part-stage views with Costumes, Makeup and Lighting.
Also known as a "Lobby Board".
- An accessory for a Followspot that mounts at its front. It
consists of a motor that spins a thin, flat, metal wheel having two wavy
slots, one opposite the another. It creates a mechanical strobe light
effect that is very Focused on a specific location, and is
particularly impressive when used on a moving performer such as a dancer
- A Bundle of individual Cables that are tied, strapped or taped together
so as to form a single large cable.
- A unit of intensity. "Lumens" refers to how bright the Light is
as emitted by a Fixture.
- Lumens per Watt
- A measure of the efficiency of visible Light Output versus Power
Consumption. The more Light emitted per Watt of Power Consumption, the
more efficient is that Lamp. As an example, a typical BTL fresnel
lamp has an efficiency of 22 Lumens per Watt.
- A unit of illumination equal to one Lumen per Square Metre.
"Lux" is the amount of Light on an illuminated surface.
- (L. X.) Having to do with Lighting, its Fixture locations,
and its Cues. Examples: "LX crew" refers to Lighting personnel;
"LX pipe" refers to the pipe where Fixtures are hung; "LX21" refers to
Lighting Cue #21.
The term is short for "Electrics" and "Electricians", from the days in
Stage and Motion Picture Production when Electrical Lighting Equipment
first became the norm.
- (LEAR-ih-sist) The person who writes or adapts the Lyrics for Music.
- Makeup Mirror
- A large Mirror with Light strips around the perimeter that when
properly designed, emulate the type of Lighting as will
be encountered on Stage. This is done so that actors or their
Makeup personnel can apply Makeup in the right amount and shade to appear
correct when seen under Stage Lighting.
- Marking Out
See Tape Set.
- Mark Out
- To put tape or chalk lines on the stage or rehearsal space floor
so as to show where scenery, Set Pieces, and entrances/exits will
be. These are used to indicate to set Crews where to build, and to allow
the Director, Actors and Stage Manager to learn ahead of time
where things will be as an aid to Blocking.
See Tape Set.
- 1/ A fabric, paper mache, or plastic covering
for the face that shrouds all or part thereof. Some versions
cover the entire head.
- 2/ This refers to the process of hiding from the
view of an Audience spaces or objects not wanted to be seen
by the production designers.
- Curtaining, flats, or other materials that Mask spaces or
- Formerly the designation of a Male that was Leader of a particular
department such as Costumes or Props. A Female Leader of such
departments was referred to as "Mistress". Today, all genders
typically come under the title of "Master" or Head, although
old-timers will often still differentiate due to habit.
- (mah-tin-AY). An afternoon performance.
- Master of Ceremonies. One who officiates at a performance or
ceremony, or hosts an event. He or she introduces Performers or speakers,
informs the Audience of procedures, may conduct interviews, and is
expected to keep Patrons engaged during changes and unanticipated
- Typically associated with Magicians, this is also used in Theatre
when an Actor needs to appear, disappear or change something without
people being aware of it. In both types of performances, a Distraction
or an Attention Puller is employed to direct the concentration of
the Spectators away from the secretive action.
(See Misdirection and Vanish.
- Formerly the designation of a Female that was Leader of particular
department such as Costumes or Props. A Male Leader of such
departments was referred to as "Master". Today, all genders
typically come under the title of "Master" or Head, although
old-timers will often still differentiate due to habit.
- (MON-oh-log) A long section of Dialogue spoken by an Actor.
- A Lighting Fixture that animates a Light Beam either by
Panning and Tilting the Fixture itself, or by doing the same
to a mirror that intercepts the Beam. This is done to sweep Light in
a continuous pattern, or to redirect it to a desired location.
Such Fixtures can often change colours and Beam sizes, perform special
duties such as strobing, as well as alter Beam Quality to a soft
or hard Focus.
- Cable that has multiple circuits.
- A dramatic or comedic presentation with dialogue and large-scale
singing and dancing.
(See Opera, Pantomime, Play.)
- Musical Director
- The person who conducts the Band or Orchestra and
rehearses the Vocalists and/or Chorus. Arrangements of the
composed work are often done by this person, too. He may also be
involved with the casting of various singers to be assured that
they can negotiate the songs as written and arranged for a
- Refers generally to Lamps that pass an electric current through
a sealed tube containing a specific gas such as Neon. The result is the
visible radiation of a specific colour range of Light. (Not to be
confused with the similar method of Fluorescence.)
Different colours can be achieved by coating the tube, by adding elements
and/or by using different gasses such as Argon, Carbon Dioxide, Helium,
Hydrogen, Krypton, Mercury, and Xenon. Despite their usage, the general
term for all such lighting is "Neon".
- Neutral Density
- A filter that reduces intensity of a Fixture without changing
its Colour Quality. Thus, the Light level is reduced but its Colour
remains the same.
- An agreement, or the form itself which is signed by all involved
with a production who are privy to some piece(s) of information that
must not be revealed to the public. Usually associated with magicians,
mentalists and escape artists, the agreement is drawn up to keep the
secrets of how a trick is done.
A more theatrical example might be regarding some well-known person
that is playing a role in disguise without a program credit, perhaps as
a career attention-getter -- the identity to be revealed after the
Run is complete. Another could be how an incredible scene change
is being done; keeping the method secret increases the Audience
- The time after each rehearsal when the Director will critique
parts of the production in an effort to fix problems, tweak acting points,
alter Blocking, etc. Others involved, such as the Stage
Manager, Choreographer, Lighting Director, etc.
may also offer Notes at this time.
See also Show Report.
- Off Book
- When Actors no longer need to refer to their Scripts, it is
said that they are "Off Book".
- Off Stage
- The space located just outside the Acting Area. This is where the
at-hand Crew work during a performance. These personnel might include the
Stage Manager, Props Master, Musical Instrument Techs, and
others actively involved during a performance. This space is usually
curtained off, but may also be visible to the Spectators.
- (oh-PAY-kuh) Will not transmit Light.
- Open White
- A Fixture with no Colour Filter is described as "Open White".
One may also see the term "No Colour" used, often abbreviated as `n/c'.
- A dramatic or comedic presentation where all dialogue is sung.
(See Musical, Pantomime, Play.)
- 1/ The Musicians that make up the playing
ensemble for a production. If no string section is included,
the term "Band" is used.
- 2/ The Seating Area closest to the level
of the Musicians -- often spoken of as the "Main Level" in the
- Orchestra Pit
- The Pit is a space that is sunken below the level of the
Seating Area. It is in front of the Stage or partially under
its Apron. Here is where Musicians and a
Conductor/Musical Director reside during a performance.
Even if there is no sunken area, and even if the Orchestra performs
elsewhere other than in front of the Stage, such an area is often spoken
of as "The Pit", and its Musicians as "The Pit Band".
- Out Hang
- (See Yoke Out.)
- Erroneously called a Plug, it is used to denote an electrical
Receptacle into which a Plug goes.
- A piece of Music composed from truncated segments of a show's Musical
Score. These feature the Main Melodies to be heard throughout that
which is to follow.
- 1/ To adjust a Lighting Fixture in a
- 2/ To give a bad review to an actor, a performance,
or a production.
- Pan Bolt
- The Bolt on the side of a Safety Clamp that locks the Stud
in place after a Fixture is Panned to its desired horizontal
- P&P Mode
- "Perfection and Polish Mode". After all the lighting is set up, gelled,
patched, and focused, the Lighting Designer and/or
Lighting Director, sometimes assisted by the lighting crew, will
begin to Perfect each lighting look. This is accomplished through a precise
Fine Focus geared toward actors' movements and stances that may
have changed as they became more immersed into their characters. The Fine
Focus also accommodates changed placements of Set Pieces as the
rehearsal schedule nears public presentation.
The P&P process could also include the addition of Accent Lights,
and extra Fixtures hung to correct problem areas. Other issues may be
able to be resolved through the relocation, or even just slight movement, of
existing Fixtures. The exact moment of lighting Cue Points and
their fade times will be Perfected during this period, as well.
Elimination and/or reduction of Spill light, along with
blocking from view of the Audience any visible Fixtures or
accessories, is accomplished by Masking with cloth or
Blackfoil. Finally, a general cleanup of cabling will be done for
organisational and aesthetic purposes.
"Perfection and Polish Mode" is also be applied to designers of sets,
clothing, audio, etc.
- (PAN-toe-mime) A Play, or part of one, that is performed without
dialogue or singing. The term is often shortened to "Panto".
(See Musical, Opera, Play.)
- Paper Tech
- A technical session without performers where the Director,
Stage Manager and others sit down with the Technical Crew to go
through the Script so as to take notes regarding required technical
procedures throughout a Show. The methodology of these requirements is
typically discussed, thus allowing the Crews to work out the details
ahead of time, and thus be ready for an initial trial at some subsequent
In some cases if the meeting is held in the Theatre, Audio and Lighting
Cues may tentatively be programmed into the Board or Software
as will be used by the Board Operators during performances.
(See Cue Session.)
- "Parabolic Aluminised Reflector". A type of Lamp that
delivers a strong, very narrow Beam from a parabolic reflector through
a clear "lens" at the front. PAR Lamps typically used for the stage
have a Light Pool that is oval shaped. This Lamp is similar in
idea to a certain style of an automotive headlight.
To spread the light, instead of a clear lens, spot versions of the PAR
Lamp have a Stippled front surface, while flood versions have a
series of small rectangular lenses that widen the Beam. Fixtures
using these Lamps are sometimes referred to as "PAR Cans".
- To speak Dialogue that is not exactly as it is written in the
Script, but which still has the same meaning.
- Participation Play
- A drama or comedy, often a murder mystery, where a small Audience
is led by the Actors around a home, other building, or series of buildings,
or within a large enclosed area that has been divided into rooms or spaces
related to the play.
The story unfolds around the Audience, but also often has them be
involved by playing parts and giving suggestions to the Cast. Because
of this, it is not unusual that the play takes a different direction for each
Performance, and may even have an alternate ending from previous ones.
Some of these plays include one or more Forces whereby the
Audience is manipulated into making choices that have
pre-Scripted Dialogue or Actions for the Actors, and/or have
one or more Gaffs designed to fool or engage that Audience.
- 1/ To make connections to or from an Audio
Board or its peripheral equipment.
- 2/ To plug Fixtures into specific
- 3/ To assign individual Dimmers to specific
Faders (Channels) on the Board.
This term does not usually pertain to the grouping of Faders to
Submasters or to Cue Stacks.
- See Audience.
- An image that is usually a cut-out from stainless steel, but there
are also glass ones available for Fixtures that don't radiate high
heat. Glass is usually reserved for more complex images screened onto it.
Patterns can include Breakups, Company Logos, Doors, Fire, Foliage,
Walls, Windows, and many more themes. Patterns are often referred to as
- Pattern Holder
- A flat steel frame that sandwiches a Pattern for insertion into
an Ellipsoidal or other projecting spotlight. Also referred to
as a Gobo Holder.
- Pattern Projection
- This means to project representations of objects or scenes such as those
described above. It is typically done via an Ellipsoidal spotlight
that has a Pattern Slot to accept a Pattern Holder.
- Pattern Slot
- See Gate.
- Pay What You Can (PWYC)
- A performance where each Patron pays whatever he or she wants
to see it.
- Peak Field
- Refers to the Light Pool (usually of an Ellipsoidal)
that has a higher intensity somewhere (usually central) within its boundary
as compared to the rest of the Pool.
- Percentage Deal
- Some Artists or Production Companies get paid as a percentage
of ticket sales (the Gross). This usually takes the form of a minimum
guaranteed amount against that percentage. The Promoter pays the
higher amount to the performers or their Production Company.
An example might be 50% of the Gross versus a guarantee of $10,000. So
any Grosses over $20,000 would net the performers more than $10,000, but
any under would still see them paid $10,000.
In some cases, the deal is structured to be that minimum plus a
percentage of the Gross. This can also be stated as a percentage
above a certain amount of Gross sales -- say 50% of any amount exceeding
$30,000. So if ticket sales represent $42,000, the performer(s) would get
the agreed $10,000 plus an extra $6,000 ($42,000 - $30,000 X 50%.) These
types of contracts allow a Promoter to get the money needed to pay expenses,
and then for both Promoter and Performers to share the profit above that
- Refers to a position where a Followspot and its operator reside
during a show. In truss Lighting Grids, it is not unusual to have one
or more suspended chairs seating each operator within a safety harness, and
an adjacent Hang Point for each of the Followspots.
- Per Diem
- A Daily Allowance given to touring show participants to cover meals,
transportation costs, and other incidental expenses.
- Performance Area
- See Acting Area.
- 1/ In Audio, it refers to the relationship between
positive and negative parts of signal waveforms. "In Phase" refers
to the coinciding of positive and positive with negative and
negative parts, while "Out of Phase" is a condition where positive
and negative parts coincide. The latter reduces signal strength, and
at speaker levels, severely reduces bass volume.
- 2/ Regarding Electrical, in Canada there are
single-phase and three-phase systems. For entertainment equipment
the former has two hot wires, a neutral and a ground. Voltages are
240 volts between hots and 120 volts between hot and neutral. Three
phase systems use three hots, a neutral and a ground. Voltages are
208 volts between hots and 120 between hot and neutral.
(More detail is in Stage Lighting Electrical Power.)
- (foss-for-ES-sence) The illumination effect generated after exciting a
coating that can absorb Light, which then has the ability to reradiate
it after the excitation source is removed. The resulting Light that is seen
for a limited period of time is usually a narrow band in the green part of
- Photo Call
- See Call.
- Pickup Crew
- Crew members that do not travel with a Show but are hired at
each stop along the tour, usually by the Venue or Promoter.
Also known as "Casuals".
- A very narrow Spotlight, often using a Sealed Beam Lamp,
that is used to define a small object, to illuminate a mirror ball, or as
a moonbeam effect with larger units.
- Pipe Clamp
- A Hardware fitting designed to attach to most Fixtures, and to
then allow those Fixtures to be suspended from a pipe, or other places
that will fit within the Clamp's grip range.
Often called a `C' Clamp, it is more properly called a `G' Clamp
because it is shaped as is the letter `G'.
(See Stage Clamp Guide.)
- Pipe Fitting
- See Kee Klamp.
- Placeholder Cue
- 1/ A point in the script where a Cue will
fall, but at the time it is unknown exactly what that Cue will
represent, only that *something* will happen then. It is assigned
a number so that the Cue sequence will be consistent.
- 2/ A temporary Sound that is Programmed into
the Audio Board or Computer. This is done to reserve
a memory location with a Cue number that will be used for the
actual Sound which will be selected at a later time.
- 3/ A temporary Lighting look that is
Programmed into the Board. As above, this is done
to reserve a memory location with an LX number that will
be used for the actual look which will be devised at a later time.
- The Directive to all participants, on and offstage, to
be in the locations required for the Show or a later Act to begin.
Sometimes heard as "Doors" for when the House opens.
- Plano-Convex Lens
- (PLANE-oh CON-vex) A Lens that is Flat on one side and Curved outward
on the other.
- Platform Stage
- Although any raised Stage is considered a `platform', this
term usually refers to a one-step-up flat platform, that is often in an
open room and with no curtains.
- A dramatic or comedic presentation with dialogue, but no large-scale
singing and dancing.
(See Musical, Opera, Pantomime.)
- Wrongly used to denote an electrical Outlet or Receptacle,
it is the Male Connector on the line cord of a Fixtureor other
- Plus One
- For events or Venues where Comps are not supplied, performers
will sometimes have a guest list set up for their friends and/or business
acquaintances to gain free admission. Each of these persons will often
want to bring someone whose name is unknown at the time the guest list is
set up, so the name of the friend or business person will be followed by
"Plus One", usually abbreviated as `+1'.
- (POH-dee-um) A small, low-height Platform from which a Conductor might
direct an Orchestra, or upon which a person, such as an athlete,
might stand to receive an award. A Lectern is often placed on a
Podium to make the former better seen by an Audience.
- Post Show
- The period after the Performance has ended, but while Patrons
are leaving the House. Usually, recorded music is being played and
a Lighting look is on the Stage or Front Curtain until all, or most,
of the Patrons have left.
- Power Lift
- A device for raising items or personnel up to the Grid or
other heights. For personnel, a box enclosed via railings on four sides
is used. The lift can be operated from the electrical line and sometimes
from a battery.
- It is an everyday item that is used on a Set which has to
actually function as it would outside of theatre. Examples might be
a desk light, a faucet, a doorbell switch, or a vacuum cleaner.
- A voltage applied by a Dimmer to warm Lamp Filaments
so as to give them longer life, and to provide faster response when
Bumped to full intensity.
- 1/ For Audio, the term `Presence' is usually
applied to a span of frequencies in the upper midrange.
raising the level of that span will bring vocals to be more
prominent to an Audience without actually needing to
increase the overall volume level.
- 2/ Applied to lighting, it means to give emphasis
to one or more performers, and to a lesser degree, to a particular
area or object on the stage. Since the eye is drawn to brighter
areas, the usual method is to light that performer more
brightly than the surroundings. It can also mean to dim the
surroundings so that the performer stands out to the
- 3/ Regarding, an actor, it means that person's
voice projects without necessarily being loud. It also refers to
one's appearance on stage: "She has presence without even saying
a word!" That is, she draws attention because of her look or her
- 1/ Any object, group of objects, or Gaff
that must be made ready before an Audience sees it.
Examples are a picture that has to fall; an object that must
move or Reveal itself when an Actor or Magician moves or
opens something; or a Practical table light that must be
Preset to `off' before the Dimmer into which it is plugged
can be brought to `full' preceding the scene. The latter is so that
an Actor can switch it on by himself, but at the determined time,
it will fade to black with the other lighting because it is on a
- 2/ A Lighting look that is set on a
Board either via a row of manual Faders, or
Programmed to a submaster Fader.
- The period after Patrons are let in to the House but
before any Opening Remarks, Overture, or the Performance itself. For some
Performers, especially Magic or Musical Acts, this time period can be used
to show a Video to entertain and/or inform the waiting Audience. Even
for shows that feature an Overture or a Video, recorded music is often
played at low volume before either of those begin.
- Preshow Look
- A Lighting Preset seen while Patrons are entering
the Seating Area and waiting for show time. It may be just a light or
two on a closed curtain, or if the opening Set is visible, there may
be subtle Lighting on various parts of it. Specific Houselight levels
may be included in the Look. For a musical group, the onstage equipment
might be dramatically backlit, or a band logo or image might be projected
on to a backdrop.
The purpose of this is to give an air of anticipation for the Spectators,
to have them study the Stage, and to set a mood for the upcoming
This Look is usually repeated during the Intermission and
Post Show, although some Directors and/or
Lighting Designers might choose different Looks for those times.
- A performance in front of an Audience that has most, if not all,
the elements being considered for inclusion in the entire Run. The
principals involved will gauge the reactions of the Spectators and decide
if changes are to be made before the actual Run begins.
Previews differ from an Invitational Dress in that Audience
members are not made up solely of family and friends of the production
personnel, and admission is usually charged.
- Primary Colours
- Regarding Lighting, the Primary Colours are Red, Green and Blue.
(See Primary and Secondary Colours Discussion.)
- Primary Pigments
- Regarding Paints, Dyes and Inks, the Primary Pigments are Cyan,
Magenta and Yellow.
(See Primary and Secondary Colours Discussion.)
- One who produces the production. That is, the person who
arranges financial backing, locates and books the Venue, hires
the Cast and principal designers (Audio, Lighting, Costumes, Set,
etc.), hires a Music Composer and books the Musicians, engages a
Publicity Person or Agency, and deals with whomever else the Producer
requires in order to mount a Production.
This person then oversees and approves what these people do, often
in concert with others such as the Director and Writer.
In the case of a high-level Producer, he or she may hire the
people who in turn hire the persons discussed above.
- Production Company
- A commercial, private, or volunteer group of people that provide
or procure the necessary personnel and infrastructure to mount a
Production in a Venue, or in a series of Venues if it's to be a
(See Producer and Promoter.)
- Production Photo
- A Photograph taken of a performance (usually during a
Dress Rehearsal) that includes things not seen during a public
performance. These might include crew visible in the Wings,
Fly Space objects, Special Effects equipment, lighting
Fixtures, Audio Monitors, Scenery Supports, and so on.
- Production Table
- A table or desk in the House where the Director,
Stage Manager, and other principals sit during rehearsals.
Purpose-built ones will have lighting and electrical outlets installed.
- Production Video
- As related to Production Photos this is a Video that typically
is in the form of a slideshow of photographs taken during rehearsals. It
includes production crew and other behind-the-scenes personnel. This video
usually runs in a lobby for the entertainment of patrons while waiting for
the doors to open. It also serves to educate the public as to the number of
people and the work required to mount the production they are about to
- One who derives the major portion of his or her income from performing
or doing related work.
(See Amateur and Semi-Professional.)
- To group Faders to Submasters or to the Cue Stack. This can also
include setting levels (intensities) and Timed Fades along with any
other features of which the Board is capable.
- 1/ The means of giving volume to one's voice
without yelling. This is done so that Spectators in the farthest
reaches of the Seating Area can make out the Dialogue.
- 2/ Displaying an Image via Film, Video or
Pattern Projection on to a surface or person.
- 3/ Shining Light on to a surface or person
is referred to as "Projecting" a Beam of Light.
- A person or company that hires an Act or full Production and
arranges to have it put on in a Venue, or in a series of
Venues if it's to be a Tour.
(See Percentage Deal, Producer and Production Company.)
- One or more words given to an Actor who forgets his dialogue. It can be
given directly by a Stage Manager during rehearsal or slyly from
Side Stage during a performance.
A Prompt can also be given by another Actor in the guise of asking a
question (while remaining In Character) that reminds the forgetful
Actor where he is with his lines. When done skilfully, this can happen in
front of Spectators without them realising one or more Actors have briefly
gone Off Script.
- Short for "Property". This is any object handled by Actors other than
large Set Pieces. Included are small items used as Set Dressing
even if the Actors never touch them. Items carried in an actor's costume are
considered "Personal Props". These might include a pocket watch, wallet, or
a concealed weapon.
- Props Master
- The person that is in charge of any objects handled by Actors. This
person typically inventories such objects before and after every show,
and arranges them Off Stage on one or more tables or shelves
based on the order they appear in the Script. As Actors enter or
leave the Acting Area, the Props Master and/or Props Crew hand
these out or retrieve them as the performance progresses. They may also
be responsible for the maintenance and repair of these items.
- (pro-SEE-nee-um) A box-style Stage having a wall with an opening
on the House side. This wall is the "Proscenium" and its opening is
called the "Proscenium Arch", even if it is not shaped as such.
Often shortened to "Pros".
- See Cue to Cue.
- Quad Box
- A plastic or metal Electrical Box having four female connectors on top,
and on one side a Line Cord with a male connector that provides power to
the former. These Boxes often have a pass-through feature comprising a cord
with a female connector coming out the opposite side, as well. This allows
for an interconnected "daisy chain".
Quad Boxes are often seen as Power Distribution for an amplifier
Backline or for judges' tables where desklights, laptops,
clocks/timers, phone/tablet chargers, and other electrical devices
Sometimes referred to as a "Floor Box".
- Quad Flat
- See Flat.
- Quartz Halogen
- (Kortz HAY-loh-jen). A combination used in Lamps to achieve
longer Filament life, and to maintain full Light output
throughout 95% of that life. It also permits smaller Bulb sizes
because Quartz Glass can handle higher temperatures so the Bulb can be
closer to the Filament. This works better for optical systems
because small Bulb sizes interfere less with optimal reflector designs,
thus efficiency is improved.
A Halogen gas such as bromine or iodine is included with an inert gas
in the Quartz envelope. Particles that evaporate from the tungsten Filament
and deposit on the Bulb wall will combine with the Halogen gas. When this
combination comes in contact with the hot Filament, it breaks apart leaving
the tungsten on the Filament and freeing the gas to begin the cycle again.
Thus, a longer life is achieved.
In order for this cycle to work, the Bulb wall must be maintained
at 250 degrees C or higher. Since Quartz glass can handle temperatures many
times in excess of that, this is the chosen material.
Pronounced as "Kwartz HAL-oh-jen" in the United States.
- Quick Link
- Invented right here in Nova Scotia over a century ago, this
is a hardware item that consists of a Chain Link which has an Adjustable
Sleeve. This sleeve threads back and forth along one side of the link
to either expose or cover an opening located there. When open, one can
attach the link to a chain or other hardware fitting; then the sleeve is
threaded closed to form a complete link. Flats on the sleeve allow a wrench
to grip it and thus it can be tightened to complete a secure attachment.
- Rag Rolling
- A painting procedure used to achieve a textured surface. Scrap Cloth is
used to either apply or remove paint. For the former, a base coat is allowed
to dry, and then a rag is dabbed with a contrasting paint colour and blotted
over the surface. A variation is to unevenly wrap the rag around a paint
roller to make a more efficient applicator, and to give a different, and
The other method is to apply a contrasting paint colour over a dry base
coat and then use a rag to blot the still-wet paint. This removes some of
the top coat, revealing the base coat underneath to varying degrees.
Various cloth types and thread counts are used to vary the effect. An
alternative to cloth is to use sponges to achieve a similar, but different,
effect. In all cases, the result produces a mottled, textured look on a
- The slope of a Stage. In older Performance Spaces where the
seating was on a level surface below that of the Performers, the Stage
floor would slope upward away from the Audience for the purpose
of better viewing angles. The slope angle might be given in degrees, but
more commonly, it would be spoken of as the "steepness of the Rake."
Raked stages fell out of favour as more Venues sloped the seating
area instead, but also because of the inconvenience of having to have skewed
furniture. This meant either to shorten the Upstage legs or add blocks
to the Downstage ones so that items could be made to sit on a level.
This was known as "Anti-Raking" and was not favoured by Set Designers
Another disadvantage was that any object dropped might tumble all the way
to the Downstage and right off the edge! Wheeled items were
- Range Connector
- A single Phase, 240/120 Volt connector used to plug in a stove.
These are sometimes used to power portable Dimmers and as a Connector
for portable Power Distribution panels. (Voltages are Canadian.)
- Rated Lamp Life
- Lamp manufacturers burn a group of a particular Lamp at its
rated voltage; when half of them have burnt out, that is the Rated Lamp
Life. In reality, the number is typically rounded downward.
So for ideal working situations, half your lamps will burn out before the
rated time, while half will last longer. This should balance out, cost wise.
Sometimes referred to as the "Service Life" of the Lamp.
(See Date Tag.)
- After roles have been Cast and Actors come to their first
meeting where they receive their Scripts, the participants
attend a Read-Through where the Script is read from beginning to end
with each Actor reciting his or her part out loud. This introduces
the Play, Musical, or other to them for the first time,
unless some have done it before or gotten an advance copy to peruse.
- Often wrongly called a Plug, it is used to denote an
electrical Outlet, into which a Plug goes.
- To install a working Lamp in a Fixture that has
experienced a burn out.
- Response Time
- The time required for a Lamp to reach full intensity after the
control is quickly brought to full. It is affected by Filament design,
Dimmer characteristics, and lag introduced by cables. This term also
applies to the time delay whenever voltage to the Lamp is altered.
- Recessed Hardware
- Seen on touring Road and Filghtcases, these are Catches
and Handles that are welded or riveted to dished metal plates. The depth
of the plates, coupled with the design of the Hardware, will maintain that
Hardware below the level of the plate's perimeter when not in use and in
their secured positions.
Openings are cut into the sides of a case to fit each plate's shape.
The plates are secured by nuts, bolts, and washers, or more commonly by
rivets, so as to have them be flush with those sides. Having Hardware that
does not protrude, or pivot outward during packing/unpacking operations
makes for easier handling because the cases do not bind against one
another's Handles or Catches.
- (reh-PREE-se) The repeating of an entire musical passage, or part of it,
at some time later in a Show, sometimes with changes. Also mispronounced as
Some people pronounce it as "REE-preese" or "REE-pryse" when using it as
- Retainer Ring
- A Steel Ring that is used to secure a lens or PAR Lamp in its mount
by forming a barrier along the outer edge of that lens or lamp. A gap
in the Ring allows it to be compressed by hand to a smaller diameter. It
is then released into a channel or under small protrusions where it will
be held in place by its own tension.
- Usually refers to the sudden appearance of a person or object that has
been on Stage for some time but hidden from the Spectators by
fabric, by being in shadow, or having been blocked by an object or
person. "The Reveal must be accompanied by a lightning effect."
(See Flash and Vanish.)
- Information sent by a Touring Show to the Promoter and/or
Venue ahead of time. It specifies the requirements of the show
so that the Venue can be prepared regarding Dressing Rooms, Audio and
Lighting requirements, and anything else needed for the performers and
- A set of stand-alone stairs, usually three high, on which singers or
contestants might stand. These may be rigid (often made from wood), or
may be metal and collapsible. Sets of them are often placed end to end to
allow for large groups of Performers. For this type of setup, risers that
have curved or angled ends are employed so as to form an arc on the
Also used to describe the parts of the concentric rings of a Fresnel
Lens or Step Lens that are parallel to the Beam passing through that
- Rough Focus
- To adjust a Fixture to point in the general direction desired.
Some adjustment of Beam size and shape may or may not be included.
The reason for this is to have an idea whether Fixtures might interfere
with scenery or with one another; to see if Beams will be blocked or shine
onto undesired objects or areas; and to route line cords and
Safety Cables so that they won't be too tight, making later Focuses
A Rough Focus also aids with Patching because the person doing the
Patch can see what and/or where a Fixture illuminates, and thus decide
where that Fixture will plugged, or to which Fader on the Board it
will be assigned.
- A piece of round glass or plastic that is typically seen in
Borderlights. It can provide colour, diffusion, spread, or
combinations of the three.
- A specific series of movements, with or without dialogue, as exampled
by a magician doing a trick, a dancer performing a set series of steps,
or an actor moving a number of props around in the same way every
performance with an end result to form a different, preplanned setup. The
skits of comedy teams, or specific sections within, are also known as
- 1/ The length of time it takes a performance to
complete: "The Run Time is two hours plus an intermission."
- 2/ The length of time a series of performances of
the same Production is shown to an Audience: "Our show will
Run for three weeks of six performances per week."
- 3/ Refers to parts of a Script: "We will
Run Act 2 for this evening's rehearsal." (Sometimes stated as
- 4/ Cables that are strung from one point to
another over a distance are considered a "Run" or "Runs".
- 5/ To `Run' a Cue means to Execute that
Cue: "Run Audio Cue #25 upon seeing the King enter."
- See Thrust Stage.
- Safety Cable
- A short wire cable with a captive loop and Snap Hook. The loop
is attached to the Yoke of a Fixture and the Cable draped
around the LX pipe where it is clipped via its Snap Hook to
itself or to a solid point near the Fixture.
(See Stage Accessories.)
The idea is to hold the Fixture at theLX pipe should the bolt
holding it to a non-Safety Clamp be left untightened to the point
where the Fixture falls.
Some older Safety "Cables" actually use a small-gauge chain instead of
steel cable. Today's quality Safety Cables use aircraft control cable.
- Safety Clamp
- A type of Lighting Fixture clamp, usually in the style of a
G Clamp, that attaches to a pipe or similar, and that has a captive
stud to which the Fixture itself is bolted. The stud has an adjustment bolt
that allows the Fixture to be Panned; should it be left untightened,
the Fixture can't fall because the stud to which it is bolted cannot leave
the Clamp body.
(See Stage Accessories.)
- A cloth or plastic bag filled with dry Sand and used as a weight
for scenery, or to be placed on an unused Fly cable to keep
it taught and thus, out of the way of adjacent cables.
- Sash Cord
- A type of braided Cordage used in the counterweight system of moveable
window sections called "sashes" that are raised and lowered vertically. This
setup is designed to ease the effort of opening heavy sashes.
Stagehands began to use this Cordage because of its flexibility,
strength, and the fact that when cut, it does not unravel. This is due to
its `closed weave' design.
First made from white cotton, Theatre Crews would colour it black using
ink or felt-tip markers so as to reduce its visibility. Eventually,
manufacturers offered it in black for their Theatre customers, and then
added another product of similar Cordage but with a synthetic core for even
greater strength. Although cotton Sash Cord is still popular because of its
softness and flexibility, artificial materials have made inroads due to
better abrasion characteristics.
(See Cordage Discussion.)
- A Colour Property that determines how deep it is. As an example, a Dark
Red filter is more Saturated than a Light Red filter.
- Scene Breakdown
- A list of all the scenes in a production. Details are usually included
for each scene to inform the reader of its location, time of day, and what
- (sch-TICK) A Trait of, or Action performed by, a character that is
displayed frequently enough so as to become particularly associated with
only that character. This is usually done for comedic purposes. It could be
a certain type of look, a facial expression, a nervous habit or tick, or a
physical Routine such as a unique, but convoluted, handshake. A
famous example from the past is Sylvia Lennick as `Calpurnia' with her
catchphrase of "Julie, don't go" from a Wayne and Shuster comedy skit.
- The written Music for a show. It includes all parts for all musicians.
- A type of Fixture with a large reflector that produces a wide,
soft light. Often used to illuminate backdrops or Cycloramas.
- A hand tool with a Shank and Driver Bit at its end that is used to
turn screws. Although hardly needing to be defined, its most common Bit
types should be discussed as people often do not know the proper names:
Screwdrivers that are meant for hex (six-sided) sockets are referred
to as "Hex Drivers"; those used for hex bolt heads or nuts are "Nut
- Blade/ This Bit fits the slot in the head of
older screws. The tool is sometimes referred to as a
- Phillips/ A Bit that has two blades crossed to
form an `X'. The sides of the blades are tapered to fit the
sloped socket in the head of Phillips screws. The taper of the
socket will guide the Bit into place, making for more positive
- Robertson/ A Bit that is in the form of a
tapered square block. The corresponding socket of the screw
head is also tapered, but at a slightly slower rate so that
the driver Bit will wedge itself into the socket. For
properly-specified drivers and screw sockets, the differing
taper rates allow one to actually hold the screw with the
driver in a Bit-down orientation without the screw disengaging
from the driver -- great for one-handed work.
Robertson drivers and bits that adhere to the P.L. Robertson
Company's specification are also numbered and colour coded:
- #00 -- Orange
- #0 -- Yellow
- #1 -- Green
- #2 -- Red
- #3 -- Black
- #4 -- Blue
- Shear cloth that can be as thin as see-through or be much denser. When
thin material is used and lighted from a front angle, it appears solid, but
with illumination Focused behind, can appear almost transparent.
Often used to have a ghost appear on Stage, or to produce effects
using multiple projections. Two Scrims, one in front of the other, with one
being mobile can produce variable, 3-dimensional effects with scenery and
Sometimes referred to as "Gauze".
- A book that contains the Dialogue, Song Lyrics, and Directions for the
Actors and Crew.
- Sealed Beam
- A misunderstood term that many take to mean a sealed Lamp, which
by nature all have to be. It actually means a Lamp with a
Filament shield that prevents stray Light Rays emanating
directly from the Filament to outside of the desired Beam. Thus, the Beam
is said to be "Sealed".
Rays are typically reflected from this shield onto a larger reflector that
sends the Light out in a narrow, controlled Beam. Examples are a
Beamlight or Pinspot PAR Lamp.
- Seating Area
- See Audience.
- (SEG-way) A transition between two musical passages, scenes, blocking
moves, and so on, where the latter follows immediately and seamlessly after
the former. That is, one flows right into the other.
- When a Fixture can shine onto an area, object or person and
illuminate it as desired, it is said that the Fixture can "See" that area,
object or person. That is, its Beam is not blocked by anything.
- Selection Committee
- A group of people that decide upon which Plays, Musicals,
or other performances will appear in the coming season at a particular
- 1/ The physical environment of a production. It
includes Painted Drops and Flats, Bridges, Platforms,
Stairways, a Bar or Counter, Balconies, Archways, or other
structures that are mounted on a Stage.
- 2/ To position an object, or make ready the sound,
lighting and other particulars for a scene.
- 3/ A list of songs played by a Band.
- Set Designer
- The person that chooses how a Set is to look, the materials
from which it is built, and the paints used to colour it. In addition,
entrances, exits, staircases, balconies, etc. will be incorporated by
him or her based on the requirements of the production and as tempered
by the Director.
In addition, the mechanism of moving Set Piecesand the
Set Dressing may fall under the role of the Set Designer.
- Set Dressing
- (Also "Set Decoration".) The art of placing objects around a Set
to complete its look so as to become natural looking. Thus, a Living Room
Set might have Magazines, Flower Vases and Ornaments on it; a Kitchen
set might have Dishes, Napkins, Towels, Curtains over the Window, etc.
Set Dressing could also be made to look unnatural by placing objects
around that don't fit. An example might be to use a Park Bench, Hanging
Bats, and a Printing Press in a kitchen set.
- Set Piece
- A Large Object that dresses a Set which is not built in.
This might include Furniture, a Wagon, a Piano, a Cannon, a Phonograph,
Counter-Top Appliances, a Stand-Alone Mirror, etc.
- The location, time, and circumstances in which a Play or given
scene is set.
- Set Wire
- Steel wire, typically 16 gauge in thickness, that is very flexible,
yet will maintain bends and curvatures placed in it. It is used to hang
objects, to wire items together, and to underwire paper mache or fabrics
into desired shapes. Its black colour and very low cost makes it suitable
for the Theatre.
(See Stage Accessories.)
- Semaphore Changer
- See Colour Changer.
- One who derives a good portion of income from working in the industry,
but does derive payment from other types of work. A prime example is an
actor who tends bar when not performing or rehearsing.
(See Amateur and Professional.)
- Show Caller
- See Call and Stage Manager.
- Show Report
- A typed report sent to technical and management staff detailing issues
with any part of a production. This is usually done by the
Stage Manager after each rehearsal, and the usual method is via
See also Notes.
- 1/ Four or eight flat blades of stainless steel
that reside within an Ellipsoidal. Each has an external
handle that allows the Shutter to be moved in and out of, and
within, the Beam, as well as to be angled to produce shapes or
to cut off areas not desired to be lit.
- 2/ A series of parallel blades in the manner of
venetian blinds that can be adjusted from fully open through to
fully closed. This provides a mechanical dimming effect while
maintaining the Colour Temperature of a given fixture.
- Any Lighting that comes from positions to either Side of a
performer or object.
(See the Lighting Position Diagram.
- The amount of horizontal and vertical Acting Area able to be seen
from each seat in the House. Poor Sightlines mean that Patrons
in some seats will not see all that happens on the Stage. Good ones
mean that Patrons can see all the Performance Area and all
above it that is being presented to an Audience.
- Site Specific
- A Show that is tailored to a location other than a typical Theatre or
Performance Space. It could be outdoors in a park, or in a church or a
warehouse, or at a shopping mall. In each case, the location is written
into the Play, and whatever is in the space is incorporated into the
Dialogue and Blocking.
- Drape that covers the sides of a portable Stage or Podium
that are visible to Spectators.
- Sleight of Hand
- (Slight of Hand) Usually associated with Magicians, it refers to the art
of Manipulating Objects such as Cards, Coins, Birds, etc. in a way that
can Vanish, Reveal, or Change those Objects in ways that are
baffling to Spectators.
- Snap Hook
- A steel or aluminum fitting with a hook on one end that has a
spring-loaded closure. In use, this can be opened to secure it to a
cable or to the link of a chain; then when released, the spring closes
the hook so it cannot come off.
The other end typically has a rigid or swivel closed loop to which a cable
or chain might be attached. Some Snap Hooks dispense with this and simply
allow items to be attached within the Hook itself.
People also refer to this piece of Hardware as a "Snap Link" or a
- A cylinder the same diameter as the initial Light Beam of a
Fixture. A Snoot fits into a Fixture's Accessory Holder
so as to lessen Spill.
Also known as a "Top Hat".
- The electrical part of a lighting Fixture into which the
Lamp is inserted.
- Soft Opening
- One or more performances in front of a paying Audience before
the main Run of a show. These are held to gauge Audience reaction
toward specific parts and to the show as a whole. After this, the show
may be altered to fix weak or broken spots, and to adjust its technical
aspects. This is a way to polish a production before major advertising
is done to promote the actual Run of the show.
- (soh-LIL-oh-kwee) A long speech given by a solo Actor.
- A Lighting term that refers to a Fixture used for a
Specific Purpose. Examples might be to illuminate a particular painting,
or an Actor's face as appears in a small opening. For other types of shows,
it might be a Spotlight on a game show prize or on a dance trophy.
This is also used by some to refer to a single light on an Actor.
See Key Light.
- Special Effects
- `SFX', or `FX', for short.) These are enhancements that are used to
punctuate a performance. They might include a strobe light, bubbles,
thunder and lightning, fog, or much more elaborate setups such as an
Actor skiing down a hill with scenery moving behind and snow falling.
- For our purposes, this refers to the Colours of Visible Light. Although
thousands of distinct hues are seen, the seven main ones are Red, Orange,
Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. These can be remembered by the
name of "Roy G. Biv."
(See Primary and Secondary Colours.)
- Spherical Abberation
- (SFEAR-ick-al ABB-er-ay-shun) The fuzziness of Image caused by Lens
Systems that don't Focus all Light Rays to the same points.
This is most noticeable as a smearing of the Image when using
Pattern Projection. It shows up as a Glow around each edge within
an image, resulting in indistinctness.
- To Designate an Actor's spot, or to Mark a movable object's
location as to exactly where it is to be placed. Regarding the latter, this
is normally done using Spike Tape, but it can (rarely) be done with
chalk or a felt-tip marker.
In use, two strips of tape are placed on a surface, such as a floor or a
table top, in an `L' shape so as to define two of the sides of a leg, caster
wheel, corner, or part of the perimeter of other objects. Typically, only
two strips per object are employed so as to reduce confusion for the
Stage Crew, but also because too much tape becomes too apparent to the
Audience. To reduce their noticeability, usually only Upstage
corners are Spiked. These tapes strips are referred to as "Spike Marks".
- Spike Plot
- For very complex productions that have a lot of items to be
Spiked, some Stage Managers make a Plot of all the
required positions and their tape markings and colours. If this is
done in a Rehearsal room, the Plot is used to recreate the marks
from that space onto the actual Stage. The Plot is then posted
Backstage as a guide for the Stage Crew to follow during
- Spike Session
- A Period set aside from Rehearsal or Technical Time where
Actors' places or moveable objects are marked as to their locations. This
is usually done by the Stage Manager and/or Stage Crew, but input
from the Director, Lighting Director, Actors and others may
- Spike Tape
- Narrow adhesive tape in a variety of colours that is used to designate
a spot on a Stage where a Set Piece or Prop is to be
placed, or a mark where an Actor is to stand.
(See Adhesive Tape Discussion.)
- Any Light that shines where it is unwanted.
- The performance and Crew area on which a production takes place.
It may be raised, at floor level, or sunken, and is usually defined by
a platform, or by other boundaries such as a cordoned area, lines on a
floor, or other delimiters.
In general terms, the Stage generally encompasses the above plus the
Off Stage, Wings, and the Backstage areas. However,
for arena or outdoor Stages where the Performance Area is a raised
platform, these other areas are often not part of that platform.
- Stage Business
- Small movements or chores used to make a scene more realistic. These
might include dusting the furniture, lighting a cigarette, looking through
a magazine, making a drink, or straightening a picture. These Actions can
also be improvised by onstage Actors if the entrance of another Actor is
- Stage Call
- See Call.
- Stage Centre
- The Central area of a Stage. Also referred to as "Centre Stage".
- A member of the Crew that handles scenery, loading/unloading duties,
and other Grunt chores, but is not usually a member of the Audio
or Lighting Crew. The exception is at small Theatres where each Crew
person does several jobs.
- Stage Left
- The area on a Stage referenced to the Performers' Left.
- Stage Manager
- (`SM' for short.) The person who oversees all that happens on a
Stage during a performance. He or she may also be the one that
Calls the show, typically via Headset. For large productions,
this person heads the Stage Management Team which typically includes an
Assistant Stage Manager (ASM), and one or more dedicated crew members.
In addition, during a rehearsal, a Stage Manager often directs Actors
and Crew in absence of the Director. Other duties might include, but
are not limited to: Script supervision to be sure Actors recite
lines correctly, overseeing how Special Effects are incorporated into
the performance, assisting the Director with Blocking, and deciding
where and how Set Pieces are to be placed. If available, some of
these duties are delegated to an Assistant Stage Manager (ASM).
- Stage Right
- The area on a Stage referenced to the Performers' Right.
- Stage Tape
- A general name for the Adhesive Tapes used around a Stage,
actual Stage Tape is similar to Duct Tape in that it is cloth-backed
and has strong adhesive, but it is usually thicker and more robust. The
quality products also leave less glue residue than Duct Tape.
(See Gaffer Tape and also our
Adhesive Tape Discussion.)
- Stage Whisper
- A Whisper said loudly enough by an actor to be heard by the
Audience, but supposedly not heard by other characters on the
- Stagger Through
- This refers to the first few attempts to rehearse a complete
Run Through of a show. Since it rarely goes well, it is said that
the participants "stagger through" their roles. This is a good way to see
where the weakest portions happen, and to locate where technical issues
need to be resolved.
- Star Drop
- A black curtain with random small lamps, fibre optic tubes, or LED
light sources sewn in so as to produce a starry sky effect.
- (Also "Starting Cast".) The Actors that start a Performance.
Referred to as "Beginners" in Britain, they are the first on Stage
when the curtain opens.
- Step Lens
- A Plano-Convex Lens that has had the parts of the glass removed that
are parallel to Light Rays passing through. So one side retains its
Convex shape, while the other exhibits a series of inward Steps from one
section of glass to another. The purpose is to reduce the weight of the
- 1/ To dimple or make little mounds on a surface. It
is typically manufactured into lenses to soften the Light
- 2/ To make a raised, textured surface via painting
or using a compound such as stucco. This procedure creates a surface
that appears to be dimpled.
- See Confederate.
- 1/ To remove a single piece of equipment or other
object when it is unneeded.
- 2/ To take down a Set and pack up all
equipment after a Production has completed its Run.
Roughly equivalent to Clear.
- 3/ A Hardware Device that has a surface for a
Latch to rub against which is the "Strike" or "Striker
Plate". It provides a path for the Latch as it slides into the
Recess where the latter resides until being released. An example
is the metal Plate on the jamb for a common door Latch.
Another type of Hardware Strike provides a Grab Point for the
loop or hook of a Catch so as to hold and retain its closed
position until released. An example is the metal plate that a loop
of a suitcase Catch grabs as it is secured into place.
- 4/ To power an arc source lighting Fixture.
- Narrow, overlapping, transparent panels of flexible plastic that
normally hang together to block open doorways. These easily part as
persons or mobile moving equipment pass through, but quickly return
to their overlapped state after passage is complete.
Some even have magnetic closures along the edges of each panel that are
easily broken apart, but which quickly reattach when the strips return to
their home positions. These work better in windy locations because the
magnets keep individual strips from being blown open when persons are not
passing through the doorway. These panels also more quickly achieve closure
because the magnets are drawn to one another whereby the panels present a
Stripdoors are used between areas that have large temperature differences
such as Loading Docks and Stages. They also reduce the passage
of insects into interior spaces.
- See Borderlight.
- The emotions underlying a character's dialogue.
- Surface Hardware
- Catches and Handles that are mounted to the Surface of cases.
(See Recessed Hardware.)
- Swatch Book
- A sample booklet of Gel. It contains an actual piece of each Gel
that a manufacturer produces, and is usually accompanied by specifications
for that particular colour. Some books will also contain swatches of
reflection, polarising, and neutral density media.
Other persons use swatch books: Costume Designers' books contain
fabric swatches; Set Designers' contain printed paint samples.
- (ta-BLOH) A static stance taken by a group of actors as though posing
for a photograph.
- A term used by magicians when Spectators hear the clink of a coin
or swish of cards moving past one another when there is supposedly
nothing there. It is said that the coins or cards "talk"; that is,
their presence is revealed unintentionally by the sound they make.
- Talkback Mic
- A Microphone on an Audio Board that allows the
Board Operator to speak to the House or Stage without
yelling. In some cases, a Mic is set up during rehearsals for the
Director and/or Stage Manager to have the same capability.
(Also referred to as the "God Mic".)
- Tape Set
- Lines on the floor (usually of the Rehearsal Space) that designate
where Sets and Set Pieces will be on the actual Stage
after the Set is built. This is to assist with preliminary Blocking,
and it allows Actors to know where entrances/exits will appear and how
wide they will be. As the name suggests, these boundaries are designated
by using Adhesive Tape, although chalk is also used. The process to put
the Lines of the floor is known as Marking Out.
- Technical Area
- The space in the Front of House from where Audio and Lighting
are controlled. If it's enclosed it is usually referred to as the
"Booth" or "Tech Booth".
In addition, Backstage areas where equipment is set up, or where
Tech Work positions are located are referred to by the same phrase. If
both exist in the same Venue, they are differentiated by saying
"FOH" or "Backstage" before the words "Tech Area".
- Technical Director
- The person who oversees Audio, Lighting, Video, and anything related
to these within a Venue.
- Technical Rehearsal
- Similar to a Cue to Cue, this type of rehearsal is held so that
the Crews can hone their duties which will be required during a performance.
Thus, Lighting and Audio Cues are adjusted so that they flow smoothly
with the actions of the Performers; Stage Crews do the same for
Set Pieces that must be moved on or off, or deal with Effects that
must happen at a certain time and in a certain way.
These types of rehearsals are usually done without Costumes or Makeup, and
are often paused from time to time while Tech Crews make their adjustments.
- A Cable with one Male Connector wired to three Female Connectors.
The term comes from "three for one".
- Throw Distance
- In practical usage, it is a measurement of the length of an imaginary
line drawn from the center front of a Fixture to the center of the
Light Pool as projected onto a given surface.
For absolute purposes, this measurement is taken from the external focal
point of a Fixture's lens system. For Fixtures without lenses, Throw Distance
is measured from the reflector's external focal point, or from the Fixture's
face if the reflector design does not Focus the Light rays to
- Thrust Stage
- A Stage that sticks out into an auditorium or other performance
area. Spectators sometimes sit on three sides. Some Thrust Stages are
motorised and retract under a larger, slightly higher Stage when not being
A special version is a "Runway" which is a long, narrow Stage that goes
well into a Seating Area. It is typically used in fashion/modelling
shows, where it is also called a "Catwalk". Some solo-entertainer shows use
one of these Stages to bring the performer closer to his or her fans.
- Thunder Sheet
- A large piece of sheet metal used to simulate thunder. Another method
is to roll bowling balls down wooden channels (Thunder Run). Now
supplanted by Audio recordings.
- To adjust a Fixture in a Vertical Direction.
- Timed Fade
- For a Board that is capable, one can set the number of seconds
desired for the Board to change the Light level(s) of a particular
Channel or group of Channels. This is most often seen with
Crossfades from one look to another. When the Go Button is
pressed, the Board will automatically alter those levels in the prescribed
Some Audio Software is capable of executing Timed Fades.
- A lighter shade of a colour; one that is not highly Saturated.
- Fixtures that are placed at the near sides of the
Acting Area to provide strong side Light.
- Tongue & Groove Edging
- Two strips, usually aluminum, that run along the mating boundaries
of a Roadcase, one on each edge. One will have a channel, the "Groove",
while the other has a ridge, the "Tongue". Their purpose is to facilitate
the alignment of a lid with the bottom part of its case, and to provide a
- Top Hat
- See Snoot.
- Illumination from a Fixture that is pointed straight down.
- A Fixture mounted on a Tormentor Pipe which is just
behind and to each side of the Proscenium Arch. It is typically
used to provide facial illumination to actors in the Downstage area
so as to soften shadows made by Borderlights and/or high-angle
illumination from FOH positions.
These lights are said to "torment" actors because of their close
proximity and often low angle, but in reality, are named because they are
positioned right next to the same-named Maskings used to keep
spectators from viewing into the Wings.
- Tormentor Pipe
- A Pipe mounted just Off Stage, usually vertically, one in each
Downstage corner behind the Proscenium Arch.
- A recorded, individual Audio Sound or Music File.
- (trans-LOO-sent) A material that transmits Light but breaks up
its rays so that an image is not well defined, if at all.
- (trans-PAIR-ent) A material that transmits Light and retains an
- A curtain hung on a series of wheeled hooks that are on a track,
sometimes with a rope and pulley system, so that the curtain can be drawn
open or closed.
- Triangle Flat
- See Flat.
- A large, flat, wheeled platform used to support Scenery panels,
large Set Pieces, musical equipment, etc. These are usually designed
with locking Casters, or to be able to extend jacks to the floor that
lift the truck off its Casters for more stability. Trucks are used when
items must be quickly moved around, or on and off, a Stage.
- The time between two or more performances, or between two or more
different shows, happening on the same day. It must be sufficient to
strike and set up a second show, or to reset the same show to be
ready for a new Audience.
- A Circular Platform, often flush with the Stage floor, that
rotates by electric motor. It is typically used to rotate scenery in and
out of view, or for musical shows such as a Battle of the Bands, it allows
one setup to be viewed by Spectators while another is assembled on the
Upstage side of the Turntable behind a separating wall. This reduces
the delay between acts.
- Tweak Focus
- A Focus done after opening night, or even from time to time
during a Run. It is done to compensate for slight changes in
Blocking as Actors grow into their Characters, but can also be
needed to adjust for Fixtures that have slipped out of Focus
on their own or because they were jostled by Crew Members or Actors. The
latter can happen where Fixtures are at or near floor level.
- A round Electrical Connector that becomes captive to its mate by being
- A Cable with one Male Connector wired to two Female Connectors.
The term comes from "two for one".
- An Electrical Connector with parallel blades for current carrying, and
a Ground pin in the shape of a `U'. Ratings are 15 or 20 Amps.
- Typically referred to as Blacklight because most of
the radiation is not seen, it is a purple/invisible Light
emitted in the Ultraviolet (UV) Spectrum. It causes materials,
or objects with suitable coatings to glow in the visible Light range.
(See Ultraviolet Discussion.)
Entertainment Fixtures of this type radiate in long-wave UV,
so are safe to use without eye and skin protection.
- A performer Cast as a minor character who also learns the part
of a lead Actor so as to be able to replace that lead in the event
of illness or accident. Sometimes referred to as an "Alternate".
- Up Hang
- (See Yoke Up.)
- The section of the Seating Area away from the Stage;
that is, toward the back of the Theatre or in the balcony.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Uphouse Centre
- The Central area toward the Back of the House as referenced from
the Spectators' point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Uphouse Left
- The area toward the Left Back Corner of the Seating Area as
referenced from the Spectator's point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Uphouse Right
- The area toward the Right Back Corner of the Seating Area as
referenced from the Spectator's point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- 1/ The area toward the Back of the Stage.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- 2/ Where one performer distracts from another by
drawing inappropriate attention to himself, or by standing in
the other performer's Light, or by actually blocking the
Spectators' view of another performer during the latter's important
- Upstage Centre
- The area toward the Middle Back of the Stage.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Upstage Left
- The area toward the Left Back Corner of the Stage as
referenced from the Actor's point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- Upstage Right
- The area toward the Right Back Corner of the Stage as
referenced from the Actor's point of view.
(See the Venue Layout.)
- To repeat a musical phrase until a singer is ready to come in with
his or her vocal part. It's also used to cover a technical or other delay.
Once everyone is ready, the musical piece continues onward from the end of
the repeated part so as to provide a smooth transition.
- Usually refers to the sudden disappearance of a person or object that
has been on Stage for some time. "The Vanish must be accompanied
by spooky music."
(See Attention Puller, Misdirection and Reveal.)
- Any Building or Space in which a Performance takes place. It includes,
but is not limited to, Auditoriums, Amphitheatres, Arenas, Gymnasiums,
Shopping Malls, and Theatres.
- Venue Manager
- One who oversees all aspects of the building in which the Performance
Space exists. Also known as "Facilities Manager".
In the case where a Theatre is part of a very large complex that also
houses non-Performance spaces, the Venue Manager would only oversee that
which is associated with the Theatre.
- Visual Cue
- A Cue that is not directly Called. Instead the Cue is
to happen when some Action occurs that can be seen by the person who will
execute that Cue: "Execute LX19 when the door opens."
- A loose Rehearsal where the actors, dancers and singers
only Walk Through their scenes on the completed Set. This is to
have them become used to the finished Set, but also to look for issues with
Blocking. A Stage Crew also might Walk Through a complicated scene
change to rehearse the movements required.
- Wardrobe Master
- See Costume Master.
- A series of vocal and physical exercises used to loosen up Performers
before a Rehearsal or performance starts. Some of these involve
little games, reciting tongue twisters, stretching, holding difficult
stances, and so on.
Because these typically include the shaking of limbs, Warmups are
sometimes referred to as a "Shake Out" or "Shakedown", but these last
two terms really only refer to those shaking exercises.
- To Illuminate a Stage with Light so that most, if not
all areas are covered.
- A room for the Performers and/or Crew that provides washing and
toilet facilities. Separate ones are available for Patrons.
As no bathing or shower facilities are included, Washrooms should not
be called "Bathrooms".
- Weight Cradle
- A frame that holds weights for counter-balancing in a Fly System.
A weight typically is flat and rectangular, and has cutouts in each of the
short sides to fit into rods that run up vertically at each end of the
cradle's interior. They allow the stacking of weights while maintaining
their positions within the cradle.
- The side areas just Off Stage.
- (X. L. R.) A three-pin microphone or power supply Connector, or a
five-pin lighting equipment connector or digital systems. Also used to
designate Cables having XLR Connectors.
- See Borderlight.
- The rectangular or U-shaped, three-sided frame that supports a Lighting
Fixture and allows it to be hung or mounted, and to be Panned
- Yoke Out
- To hang a Fixture with its Yoke in a horizontal, or nearly
so, position. It is done to gain sideways distance, or to clear objects that
would otherwise impede the ability to accurately position the Fixture. Also
referred to as to "Out Hang".
- Yoke Up
- To hang a Fixture with its Yoke in a vertical, or nearly
so, position, but above its mounting pipe. It is done to gain vertical
distance, or to clear objects that would otherwise impede the ability to
accurately position the Fixture. Also referred to as to "Up Hang".
- Zoom Lens
- A Lens System that provides Variable Focal Length allowing for a
continuous resizing of its Light Pool within the range of the
Zoom System. These Lenses are seen in some Ellipsoidals,
Followspots and Intelligent Lighting.