Atlantic Illumination Entertainment Lighting

AIEL Instructional

GLOSSARY
of
Stage Terminology

Definitions or Explanations of
Words and Phrases as Used
by Persons Associated with
Performance Stages

This general glossary presents terms and expressions
that one might encounter when working around a stage.
The definitions shown here may not be the only ones known
for a given entry, or they may not even be the definitive ones,
but most are commonplace on the Stages of Atlantic Canada.

As we are a lighting company, particular
attention will be devoted toward terms related
to stage lights, their accessories and hardware,
and to lighting's technical and artistic aspects.



THE FOLLOWING MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED
WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR ©

Categorised
Terms by Common Categories

Alphabetical Access
Shortcuts to Definition Sections via First Letter

Definitions
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CATEGORISED

Below by Category are Words and Phrases that will
be defined later on this page. Should you not know
the term you want, peruse each category related
to the word(s) you have in mind to see if a term
might suit. Then use your browser's "Search"
function to quickly locate its Definition as
found after the "Categories" section.
(Browser Search Methods)


Entries are in STRICT Alphabetical Order.
Numbers are Treated as though Spelled Out.


Choose a Category
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Audio

Business

Crew

Hardware

Lighting

Music

Performers

Production

Stage

Theatre Arts

Venue

 

AUDIO

  • Ambience
  • Analogue Control
  • AQ
  • Audio Designer

  • Backline
  • Board
  • Board Operator
  • Breakout

  • Cabtire
  • Channel
  • Count
  • Cue Stack
  • Desk
  • Driver

  • Follow Cue

  • God Mic

  • Headset System

  • Loom

  • Multicable
  • Patch
  • Placeholder Cue

  • Q2Q
  • Quad Box

  • Range Connector

  • Talkback Mic
  • Track
  • Twist-Lock

  • U-Ground

 

BUSINESS

  • Box Office

  • Comps
  • Contact Sheet/List

  • Front of House Staff

  • Gate
  • Gross

  • Matinee
  • Nondisclosure

  • Patrons
  • Pay What You Can (PWYC)
  • Percentage Deal
  • Per Diem
  • Pickup Crew
  • Plus One
  • Producer
  • Production Company
  • Promoter

  • Run

  • Soft Opening

  • Venue
  • Venue Manager

 

CREW

  • Apple Crate

  • Backline
  • Blacks
  • Board
  • Board Operator
  • Book Flat
  • Build

  • Cabtire
  • Cart
  • Catwalk
  • C Clamp
  • Connector Sock
  • Cordage
  • Cubes
  • Cut-Out

  • Date Tag
  • Desk
  • Dolly
  • Dress Kit
  • Floor Pocket
  • Fly
  • Foam Board /
    Foamcore
  • Fly Space/Gallery
  • Fly System
  • Fog Machine

  • Gaff
  • Gaffer Tape
  • Glass Box
  • Glow Tape
  • God Mic
  • Gopher
  • Grid
  • Grunt
  • God Mic

  • Hand Truck
  • Headset System
  • Leg Line
  • Legs
  • Lectern
  • Lighting Gloves
  • Lighting Wrench
  • Loading Dock
  • Loom
  • Lobsterscope

  • Mark Out
  • Mask
  • Multicable

  • Orchestra Pit

  • Perch
  • Per Diem
  • Pickup Crew
  • Platform Stage
  • Plug
  • Podium
  • Power Lift
  • Preheat
  • Preset
  • Proscenium

  • Q2Q
  • Quad Box
  • Quad Flat

  • Rake
  • Range Connector
  • Receptacle
  • Rider
  • Riser

  • Sand Bag
  • Sash Cord
  • Screwdriver
  • Scrim
  • Seating Area
  • Set
  • Set Piece
  • Skirt
  • Special Effects
  • Spike
  • Spike Plot
  • Spike Session
  • Spike Tape
  • Stage
  • Stagehand
  • Stage Tape
  • Strike
  • Tape Set
  • Talkback Mic
  • Technical Area
  • Technical Director
  • Technical Rehearsal
  • Thrust Stage
  • Tormentor Pipe
  • Threefer
  • Thunder Sheet
  • Triangle Flat
  • Twist-Lock
  • Traveler
  • Truck
  • Twofer

  • U-Ground

  • Venue

 

HARDWARE

  • Anchor Plate

  • Caster
  • Caster Cups
  • Catch
  • Cordage

  • D Ring
  • Kee Klamp
  • Pan Bolt
  • Pipe Clamp
  • Pipe Fitting

  • Recessed Hardware
  • Retainer Ring

  • Safety Cable
  • Safety Clamp
  • Screwdriver
  • Set Wire
  • Snap Hook
  • Surface Hardware

  • Tongue & Groove
    Edging

  • Weight Cradle

 

LIGHTING

  • Accent Light
  • Accessory Holder
  • Analogue Control
  • Aperture
  • Array

  • Backlight
  • Barndoors
  • Batten
  • Beam Angle
  • Beamlight/
    Beam Projector
  • Beam Pattern
  • Beam Quality
  • Beam Spread
  • Blackfoil
  • Blacklight
  • Blending
  • Blind Mode
  • Board
  • Board Operator
  • Borderlight
  • Bounce
  • Bounce Cloth
  • Breakout
  • Breakups
  • Build
  • Bulb
  • Bump

  • Cabtire
  • Channel
  • Chromatic Abberation
  • Cold Reflector
  • Colour Boomerang
  • Colour Changer
  • Colour Correction
  • Colour Kit
  • Colour Media
  • Colour Pack
  • Colour Scroller
  • Colour Temperature
  • Colour Wheel
  • Complementary
    Colours
  • Complementary
    Pigments
  • Connector Sock
  • Count
  • Cross Fade
  • Crossfader
  • Cue Stack

  • Dead Blackout
  • Date Tag
  • Dead Spot
  • Decimal Cue
  • Desk
  • Dichroic
  • Diffusion
  • Dimmer
  • Dimmer Curve
  • Dimmer Pack
  • Dimmer Rack
  • DMX512
  • Douser
  • Drop Pipe/
    Drop Rod
  • Effects Projector
  • Element
  • Ellipsoidal

  • Fader
  • Field Angle
  • Filament
  • Final Focus
  • Fine Focus
  • Fixture
  • Flash
  • Flash Powder
  • Flat Field
  • Floor Base
  • Fluorescence
  • Focal Length
  • Focus
  • Follow Cue
  • Followspot
  • Footlights
  • Fresnel
  • Frontlight
  • Funnel

  • G Clamp
  • Gel
  • Gel Frame
  • Ghosting
  • Gobo
  • Go Button
  • Grid
  • Groundrow
  • Intelligent Lighting
  • Iris

  • Key Light

  • Lamp
  • Lamp Alignment
  • Lamp Code
  • Lamphouse
  • Lamp Sock
  • LED
  • Leko
  • Light
  • Light Bar
  • Lighting
  • Lighting Designer
  • Lighting Director
  • Lighting Gloves
  • Lighting Plot
  • Lighting Wrench
  • Light Ladder
  • Light Pool
  • Light Shield
  • Limbo
  • Lime Light
  • Lobsterscope
  • Loom
  • Lumen
  • Lux
  • LX

  • Mover
  • Multicable
  • Neon
  • Neutral Density

  • Opaque
  • Open White
  • Outlet

  • Pan
  • PAR
  • Patch
  • Pattern
  • Pattern Holder
  • Pattern Projection
  • Peak Field
  • Perch
  • Phosphorescence
  • Pinspot
  • Plano-Convex Lens
  • Placeholder Cue
  • Plug
  • Practical
  • Preheat
  • Preset
  • Preshow Look
  • Primary Colours
  • Primary Pigments
  • Program

  • Q2Q
  • Quartz Halogen

  • Range Connector
  • Rated Lamp Life
  • Receptacle
  • Response Time
  • Retainer Ring
  • Rough Focus
  • Roundel

  • Saturation
  • Sealed Beam
  • See
  • Semaphore Changer
  • Scoop
  • Shutters
  • Sidelight
  • Snoot
  • Socket
  • Special
  • Spill
  • Spectrum
  • Spherical Abberation
  • Star Drop
  • Step Lens
  • Stipple
  • Striplight
  • Swatch Book

  • Tilt
  • Tint
  • Tips
  • Top Hat
  • Toplight
  • Tormentor
  • Translucent
  • Transparent
  • Throw Distance
  • Tweak Focus
  • U-Ground
  • Ultraviolet

  • Wash
  • Xrays

  • Yoke

  • Zoom Lens

 

MUSIC

  • Band
  • Book
  • Build

  • Chart
  • Choreographer
  • Company
  • Composer
  • Count
  • Dress Rehearsal

  • Jukebox Production

  • Keyboard Rehearsal

  • Libretto
  • Lyricist

  • Musical Director
  • Orchestra
  • Orchestra Pit
  • Overture

  • Podium

  • Score

  • Vamp

 

PERFORMERS

  • Acting Area
  • Action Prop
  • Ad Lib
  • Amateur
  • Aside
  • Attention Puller

  • Band
  • Blocking
  • Book

  • Call
  • Cast
  • Chart
  • Cheat
  • Choreographer
  • Chorus
  • Cold Reading
  • Company
  • Confederate
  • Contact Sheet/List
  • Count
  • Cue
  • Cue to Cue
  • Curtain Call
  • Company
  • Diction
  • Director
  • Ditch
  • Double Up
  • Dress Rehearsal

  • Follow Cue
  • Force

  • Improv
  • Italian

  • Keyboard Rehearsal

  • Load
  • Makeup Mirror
  • MC
  • Misdirection
  • Monologue
  • Musical

  • Nondisclosure
  • Notes
  • Off Book
  • Opera
  • Orchestra
  • Orchestra Pit

  • Paraphrase
  • Participation Play
  • Percentage Deal
  • Per Diem
  • Play
  • Plus One
  • Professional
  • Prop

  • Q2Q

  • Read-Through
  • Reprise
  • Reveal
  • Routine

  • Schtick
  • Script
  • Semi-Professional
  • Sleight of Hand
  • Soliloquy
  • Stage Business
  • Stagger Through
  • Stooge
  • Subtext

  • Talk
  • Technical Rehearsal

  • Understudy

  • Vanish

  • Walk-Through
  • Warmup

 

PRODUCTION

  • Artistic Director
  • Audio Designer

  • Book

  • Call
  • Cast
  • Chorus
  • Choreographer
  • Company
  • Composer
  • Contact Sheet/List
  • Costume Designer
  • Costume Master
  • Costume Parade
  • Cue Stack
  • Cue to Cue

  • Director
  • Dresser
  • Dress Rehearsal

  • Gaffer Tape

  • Head
  • Headset System

  • Intermission

  • Jukebox Production
  • Libretto
  • Lighting Designer
  • Lighting Director
  • Lighting Plot
  • Lyricist

  • Master
  • Matinee
  • Mistress
  • MC
  • Musical
  • Musical Director
  • Notes

  • Opera
  • Overture

  • Paper Tech
  • Participation Play
  • Pickup Crew
  • Placeholder Cue
  • Play
  • Post Show
  • Preshow
  • Preview
  • Producer
  • Production Company
  • Production Table
  • Promoter
  • Prop
  • Props Master

  • Q2Q

  • Read-Through
  • Rider
  • Run
  • Script
  • Selection Committee
  • Set Designer
  • Site Specific
  • Special Effects
  • Stagehand
  • Stage Tape
  • Stage Manager

  • Technical Director
  • Technical Rehearsal
  • Understudy

  • Venue

  • Wardrobe Master

 

STAGE

  • Acting Area
  • Apple Crate
  • Apron

  • Backline
  • Backstage
  • Blacks
  • Boards
  • Book Flat
  • Border Curtain

  • Cart
  • Catwalk
  • Centre Left
  • Centre Line
  • Centre Right
  • Centre Stage
  • Connector Sock
  • Cordage
  • Crossover
  • Cubes
  • Cyclorama

  • Dolly
  • Downstage
  • Downstage Centre
  • Downstage Left
  • Dress Kit

  • Floor Pocket
  • Fly Space/Gallery
  • Fly System

  • Gaffer Tape
  • Grid

  • Hand Truck
  • In the Round

  • Leg Line
  • Legs
  • Lectern

  • Mask

  • Off Stage
  • Orchestra Pit

  • Performance Area
  • Platform Stage
  • Podium
  • Power Lift
  • Proscenium

  • Quad Flat

  • Rake
  • Riser
  • Runway
  • Sand Bag
  • Scrim
  • Set
  • Set Piece
  • Set Wire
  • Skirt
  • Spike
  • Spike Tape
  • Stage
  • Stage Centre
  • Stagehand
  • Stage Left
  • Stage Manager
  • Stage Right
  • Stage Tape

  • Tape Set
  • Threefer
  • Thrust Stage
  • Thunder Sheet
  • Tormentor Pipe
  • Traveler
  • Triangle Flat
  • Truck
  • Twist-Lock
  • Twofer

  • Upstage
  • Upstage Centre
  • Upstage Left
  • Upstage Right
  • Weight Cradle
  • Wings

 

THEATRE ARTS

  • Black Box Theatre
  • Black Art
  • Break a Leg

  • Complementary
    Colours
  • Complementary
    Pigments

  • Dark Theatre/Stage

  • Fourth Wall
  • In the Round

  • Pantomime
  • Primary Colours
  • Primary Pigments

 

VENUE

  • Artistic Director
  • Audience

  • Bathrooms
  • Box Office
  • Black Box Theatre

  • Contact Sheet/List

  • Downhouse
  • Downhouse Centre
  • Downhouse Left
  • Downhouse Right

  • FOH
  • Front of House
  • Front of House Staff

  • House
  • House Left
  • House Manager
  • House Right
  • In the Round

  • Loading Dock

  • Orchestra Pit

  • Platform Stage

  • Seating Area
  • Sightlines
  • Stage
  • Stripdoors

  • Technical Area
  • Thrust Stage
  • Uphouse
  • Uphouse Centre
  • Uphouse Left
  • Uphouse Right
  • Venue
  • Venue Manager

  • Washrooms



 

ALPHABETICAL
SHORTCUTS

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Terms beginning with that Letter

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H  

I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P  

Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X  

Y   Z  
 

  DEFINITIONS

Important Words within a definition description will be
First-Letter Capitalised. Those in Italic Font will denote
terms that are defined elsewhere on this page. Use your
browser's "Search" function to quickly locate them.
  (Browser Search Methods)

    A
Accent Light
Illumination used to make an object stand out, usually associated with the Set or Set Pieces. This might include a Fireplace Mantle, a Picture, a Staircase, a Statue, etc.

Accessory Holder
The slots at the front of a Stage Lighting Fixture. They can be used to hold Barndoors, Funnels, Gel Frames, Top Hats and other beam-altering devices.

Acting Area
The area of Performance that the Audience sees. Outside of this is considered to be Off Stage or Backstage.

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 Script.

Amateur
One who does not derive the major portion of income from performing.
(See Professional and Semi-Professional.)

Ambience
(AM-bee-on-ce) 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.

Analogue Control
(ANN-a-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 voltage.

   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 (amplified) varying voltage at that point Controls the speaker by driving its cone back and forth to create sound waves in the air. 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 rise down the centre to which a D Ring can be secured, or through which Sash Cord can be passed. The Plate has four screw holes by which it can be attached and made captive to the Stage or other rigid support.
(See Accessories.)

Aperture
(AP-er-tyour) 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".

Apple Crate
A strong, wooden Box 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 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 Box", the name comes from the type and size of Crates once used for Apples and other fruits before heavy cardboard took over. Early on, actual wooden fruit boxes were repainted and used around stages. Today, they are available commercially or built by the Theatres themselves.

   Some Apple Crates 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 a typical format is 20cm X 40cm X 60cm. Each dimension is distinct so that the Box may be placed in one of three differing height positions. Also, the size ratio of this example is 1-2-3 which means combinations of Boxes can be made to be completely regular. "Cubes" is often the name used for a variation where all dimensions are equal.

   Improv Theatre often makes use of multiple Apple Crates to represent sets, furniture, partitions, and objects. Groups of these can easily be reconfigured as the story unfolds.

Apron
(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.

AQ
(A. Q.) Short for "Audio Cue".

Array
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.

Aside
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 performer.

       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 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".

Audience
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.
 
    B
Backlight
Any Lighting that comes from positions Behind a performer or object.
(See the Lighting Position Diagram.

Backline
The row of Amplifiers and Speaker Cabinets behind a Band.

Backstage
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.

Band
A group of Musicians with no string section.

Barndoors
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.
(See Accessories.)

Bathrooms
Bathing and Showering facilities provided for Performers and Crew.
(See Washrooms.)

Batten
An old term for the Pipes 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 loosely defined, or no, 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 Beam at a given distance: "This fixture will Spread to about 2 metres at that distance."

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 technique of using 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.

Blacks
  • 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.

Blocking
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.

Blackfoil
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".

Blacklight
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 LED sources.

Blending
The technique of combining Light Pools in a way that provides smooth transitions between each Pool.

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.

Board
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.

Boards
Slang term for the Stage floor. The common phrase, "Treading the Boards", means to act on a Stage.

Book
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 Score.

Book Flat
This is two Flats butted along their vertical edges and hinged so that when opened at 45-degrees or so, will stand without support. These are used when fast scene changes are required.

Border Curtain
A short curtain that hides the Grid or a Batten from the view of the Audience.

Borderlight
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 the Stage.

   Also known as "Striplights", and in the past as "Xrays".

Bounce
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 used 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 are used to control the effect.

   This technique is particularly effective when used 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
The location inside, or just outside, a Venue where tickets are sold. The name stems from the fact that its 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 could have come from the box that contained the tickets and money.

   A second usage refers to the general number of tickets sold: "The Box Office was good last night."

   A third is employed as a synonym for "success": "She is Box Office now!"

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.

   Once considered a superstitious uttering, it now genuinely means "Good Luck!" or the same as "Have a good performance!"

Breakout
A multi-circuit Cable with a multipin connector on one end and connectors for each individual circuit on the other.

Breakups
A general term for Patterns that project an image of amorphous shapes onto the Stage, Sets or Objects.

Build
  • 1/  To construct the Set or a Prop.

  • 2/  To increase the Intensity and/or Volume in the Music.

  • 3/  To put together a sequence of Cues.

  • 4/  To create a Lighting Look a Channel at a time.

Bulb
The glass envelope of the Lamp, which is the Light Source of a Fixture. "Bulb" is inaccurately used to refer to the Light Source itself.

Bump
The Flash Button on a Lighting Board. As a verb, it means to quickly bring one or more Fixtures to full intensity.
 
    C
Cabtire
(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'.

Call
The act of giving instructions to a Crew and Performers; that is, to "Call" the show. This duty is typically performed by the Stage Manager via a Headset System.

   It also refers to a notification of time: "The Makeup Call is for 6 PM." or "Ten minute Call before curtain."

Cart
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. One with a pull handle is referred to as a "Wagon Cart", while a Cart with an upright handle across one or both ends is called a "Platform Cart".

   Another form of the Cart has two or more shelves and is referred to as a "Service Cart". One of these with a spring-loaded, short ladder at one end is used by merchandisers as a "Stock Picker".
(See Dolly and Hand Truck.)

Cast
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 Actors.

   As a verb, `Cast' means to select an Actor for a role.

Caster
A wheel that is mounted within a yoke which is often attached to a plate. The plate is bolted or screwed to an object that is to be moved. Some casters use a Stud mount. This stud is threaded or inserted into a sleeve that is recessed into the object.

   Basic types include Rigid and Swivel, Locking and Non-Locking.
(See a Discussion with Full Details: Caster Guide.)

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.

Catch
(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 key.

Catwalk
  • 1/  An enclosed, narrow walkway above a Stage or Seating Area. It typically houses electrical, lighting or Fly System equipment.

  • 2/  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 handy hooks or bars to which they need to tie Cordage.
(See Pipe Clamp.)

Channel
  • 1/  Each Circuit on an Audio Board that controls one Microphone or other Audio input source.

  • 2/  Each Circuit on a Lighting Board that controls one Dimmer.

  • 3/  Each Dimmer in a Dimmer Pack that controls one Fixture or group of Fixtures.

Cheat
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 Spectators.

   It is also done to portray a movement or action to all Spectators even if the Actor's position is an unnatural one.

Chorus
The Singers and Dancers in a Musical other than those in lead roles.

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".

Chart
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.

Choreographer
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.

Cold Reading
Reading aloud from a Script that an Actor has not seen before.

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 Pack".

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 The Kits.)

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 degrees Kelvin (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.

Company
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, Complementary Colours are those formed by the combination of any two Primary Colours. They are Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow.
(See Primary and Secondary Colours Discussion.)

Complementary Pigments
Regarding Paints, Dyes and Inks, the Complementary Pigments are those formed by the combination of any two Primary Pigments. They are Red, Green, and Blue.
(See Primary and Secondary Colours Discussion.)

Comps
"Complimentary" -- Free tickets!

Composer
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.

Confederate
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".

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.

Cordage
Flexible material that is made of twisted or woven strands such as string, rope, or similar. 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.

Count
  • 1/  In Music, `Count' is related to the tempo of the piece being played: "Give it a four Count, and then the downbeat."

  • 2/  Regarding a Cue, a `Count' is essentially a second in length: "When you see the lightning effect, Count `3' and issue Audio Cue #41."

Cross Fade
When one Lighting look fades down as another fades up, the Lighting is said to "Cross Fade" between looks.

Crossfader
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 "Split Crossfader".

   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 "Pile On".

Crossover
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.

Cubes
See Apple Crate.

Cue
A point in a Script where an action is to happen or be acted upon. Examples include: a Lighting change, a Sound to be made, a Set change, or a point where an Actor enters or exits.

Cue Stack
For an electronic memory Board and Software, this is the series of Cues for Audio and 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 rehearsed; 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".)

   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 that Cue.

Curtain Call
Originally, it was a term 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 now used to designate all bows taken after a performance ends.

Cut-Out
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.

Cyclorama
(SY-clor-am-ah) `Cyc' 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 at the extreme Upstage.
 
    D
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 to its Rated Lamp Life.

Dead Blackout
A point where there is a sudden, instantaneous change to absolutely no Light on Stage.

Dead Spot
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 as "LX14.1".
(See LX.)

   Also known as a "Point Cue" or "Insert Cue".

Desk
British term for a Lighting or Audio Board.

Dichroic
(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.

Diction
The proper enunciation of Dialogue by an Actor so it may be understood by the Spectators.

Diffusion
(dif-FYOU-shun) A type of colourless Gel or 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".)

Dimmer
The device that controls the voltage going to a Fixture. The Dimmer itself is controlled by a Fader on a Board or by Computer Software. Each Dimmer is considered as one "Channel".

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.

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 Channel.

Dimmer Rack
A metal or wooden container that holds two 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.

Director
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.

Ditch
To secretly dispose of something that must remain or become 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 actually swallow.

DMX512
(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 Fog Machines.

   DMX' stands for "Digital Multiplex", while the `512' refers to 512 bits of Data.

Dolly
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.)

Douser
(DOW-ser: rhymes with `cow-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".

Downhouse
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.

Downlight
A Fixture pointed straight down to create dramatic Toplight on Actors or Sets.

Downstage
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.

Dresser
A person who assists Actors to get in and out of Costumes.

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".
(See Accessories.)

Driver
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 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 Grid.
 
    E
Effects Projector
A device capable of projecting realistic Fire, Moving Clouds or Rain on to a backdrop.

Element
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.

Ellipsoidal
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 Focused with a sharp 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.
 
    F
Fader
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.

Filament
The Light emitting straight or coil of wire within a Lamp.

Filament Line
A small gauge, almost invisible, thread-like Line that is used to hang 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 remaining Spill.

Fine Focus
To adjust a Fixture to be very precise in how it illuminates a given person, item or area.

Fixture
An Instrument, Lantern, Luminaire or Unit used for Stage or other illumination.

Flat
A flat Scenery panel. These can be a frame with a painted canvas covering for light weight purposes, or the covering can be hardboard for durability.

   These may be supported by wires from above (flown), or floor supported by bases with sandbag ballast or by being attached directly to the Stage.

Flat Field
Refers to the Light Pool of an Ellipsoidal that has a regular intensity across its width.

Flash
  • 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 `flashes' one that he wishes to keep secret.

  • 2/  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 by smoke.

Flightcase
A type of air-tight Roadcase that has a Valve used to equalise internal air pressure 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 where 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 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.

Fluorescence
(flor-ES-sence) As regarding Lighting, Fluorescence is the effect of Ultraviolet Light radiating from a mercury vapour arc and exciting a coating which reradiates Light in a broad, visible range.
(See Neon.)

Fly
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.

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 being Flown.
(See Grid.)

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.)

Focus
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 term "Focus".

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 quickly chilling hot water with dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide).

   Often erroneously called a "Smoke Machine", although no actual smoke is produced.

FOH
(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.

Followspot
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.

Footlights
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.

Force
  • 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 site of the Participants.

       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 places.

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 "Fourth Walls".

   To "Break the Fourth Wall" means to acknowledge Spectators are there, or to talk directly to them.

Fresnel
(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 version has a series of concentric rings on a flat, glass surface that gather light and project it outward.

Frontlight
Any Lighting that comes from positions Ahead of a performer or object.
(See the Lighting Position Diagram.

Front of House
Typically referred to by its initials of `F O H', 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.

Funnel
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 Top Hat, but also to narrow the beam.
 
    G
Gaff
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.)

Gate
See Gross.

G Clamp
See Pipe Clamp.

Gel
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 Beam.

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.

Ghosting
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 Stage.

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.)

Gobo
(GOH-boh) Originally an Opaque flag or shield used in the motion picture industry, the term has come to mean a Pattern.

Go Button
A momentary Push Button on a Lighting Board that executes the next Cue.

God Mic
See Talkback Mic.

Gopher
A person whose job is to run errands for various persons connected with a production. The name stems from the phrase "go for".

Grid
Usually refers to the pipe arrangement 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.)

Gross
This is the total amount received at 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.

Groundrow
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.

Grunt
A Stagehand or truck loader that does heavy work.
 
    H
Hand Truck
Erroneously called a Dolly, this is an upright 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 plate is then tipped upward so the load balances between the wheels and 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.)

Head
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.

House
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 tonight!"

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.
 
    I
Improv
(IM-prov) Short for "Improvisational". A style of Acting where the participants Make Up the Words, Actions, and Locations as they go along.

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.

Intermission
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.

Iris
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.

Italian
(ih-TAL-ee-an) A rehearsal where actors recite their lines of Dialogue as quickly 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.
 
    J
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.
 
    K
Kee Klamp
A brand name of a British company product that uses steel or aluminum fittings to make structures out of pipe such as a Lighting Grid or guard rails. These fittings use set screws having hex (six-sided) sockets, so one can easily build, adjust, or take down structures using them.

Keyboard Rehearsal
A Rehearsal (usually a Dress Rehearsal) that does not include a production's band or orchestra, but instead one musician playing a keyboard that often can emulate the required sounds of the full band/orchestra. It is done to include the music in a show so that singers and dancers can perform, but so that technical aspects can be worked on to perfect them. This means that an entire ensemble of musicians need not be tied up, thus saving the production some money.

Key Light
A television term that some Lighting Designers/Directors use in place of the term Special when it denotes an Actor's main illumination.
 
    L
Lamp
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 to have its filament line up with the Fixture's optics so as to produce the desired beam intensity and smoothness. This is when Flat Field, 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. It is the `FF' family.

Lamphouse
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 "Lampholder".

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.

Latch
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.

LED
(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 drawn on the floor or designated by a strip of Adhesive Tape.

Legs
Staggered, vertical curtains that hide the Wings of a Stage. The staggering allows space for Performers to enter and exit.

Lectern
Wrongly spoken of as a Podium, a Lectern is a small upright desk from behind which someone might Lecture or MC a show.

Leko
A Trade Name, along with `Lekolight', as used by Strand for some of their Ellipsoidal lines.

Libretto
(lih-BRET-toh) In Opera or Musical Theater, this is the Script.

Light
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.

Lighting
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
In some Fixtures, this is a round metal plate with an opening for the Socket assembly. It is used to limit or prevent Light leakage out the back or top of the Fixture.

Lime Light
A long obsolete type of Fixture that burned blocks of lime in a ventilated housing and location. It produced a very intense, white Light.

Limbo
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".

Load
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 the two.

   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.

Lobsterscope
An accessory for a Followspot that mounts at its front. It consists of a motor that spins a thin, 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 or skater.

Loom
A Bundle of individual Cables that are tied, strapped or taped together so as to form a single large cable.

Lumen
A unit of intensity. "Lumens" refers to how bright the Light is as emitted by a Fixture.

Lux
A unit of illumination equal to one Lumen per Square Metre. "Lux" is the amount of Light on an illuminated surface.

LX
(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.

Lyricist
(LEAR-ih-sist) The person who writes or adapts the Lyrics for Music.
 
    M
Mask
  • 1/  A fabric, paper mache, or plastic covering for the face that shrouds all or part thereof. Some versions cover the entire head.

  • 2/  Regarding Stage or Set work, this refers to fabric or rigid board that is used to hide items which are to be kept out of view of the Audience.

  • 3/  It also refers to one Actor blocking another so that some of the Audience cannot see that other Actor.

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.

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.

Master
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.

Matinee
(mah-tin-AY). An afternoon performance.

MC
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 unanticipated delays.

Misdirection
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.

Mistress
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.

Monologue
(MON-oh-log) A long section of Dialogue spoken by an Actor.

Mover
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.

Multicable
Cable that has multiple conductors.

Musical
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.
 
    N
Neon
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.

Nondisclosure
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 reaction.

Notes
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.
 
    O
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, Guitar Techs, and others actively involved during a performance. This space is usually curtained off, but may also be visible to the Spectators.

Opaque
(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.

Opera
A dramatic or comedic presentation where all dialogue is sung. (See Musical, Pantomime, Play).

Orchestra
  • 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 House.

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".

Outlet
Erroneously called a Plug, it is used to denote an electrical Receptacle into which a Plug goes.

Overture
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.
 
    P
Pan
To adjust a Lighting Fixture in a Horizontal Direction.

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 position.

Pantomime
(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 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 rehearsal.

   In some cases if the meeting is held in the Theatre, Audio and Lighting Cues may be tentatively inserted into the Board or Software as will be used by their Board Operators during performances.

PAR
"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.

   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".

Paraphrase
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, or other building, or series of buildings. 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 drama takes a different direction for each Performance, and may even have an alternate ending.

   Some of these plays include one or more Forces whereby the Audience is manipulated into making choices that have pre-Scripted Dialogue or Actions, or one or more Gaffs designed to fool that Audience.

Patch
  • 1/  To make connections to or from an Audio Board or its peripheral equipment.

  • 2/  To plug Fixtures into specific Dimmers.

  • 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 Program.

Patrons
See Audience.

Pattern
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 on to it. Patterns can include Breakups, Company Logos, Doors, Fire, Foliage, Walls, Windows, and many more themes. Patterns are often referred to as Gobos.

Pattern Holder
A flat steel frame that sandwiches a Pattern for insertion into an Ellipsoidal or other projecting spotlight.

Pattern Projection
This means to project representations of things such as those just described above. It is typically done via an Ellipsoidal spotlight that has a Pattern Slot to accept a Pattern Holder.

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 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 company.

   In some cases, the deal is structured to be that minimum plus a percentage of the Gross, and this can also be stated as a percentage above a percent of Gross sales, say exceeding $40,000. So if the ticket sales represent $42,000, the performer(s) would get their agreed $5,000 plus an extra $500. These types of contracts allow a Promoter to get the money needed to pay expenses, and then to make a percentage of the profit above that amount.

Perch
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 in 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.

Phosphorescence
(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 the Spectrum.

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.

Pinspot
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 Lighting look that is Programmed into the Board. 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.

Places
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.

Play
A dramatic or comedic presentation with dialogue, but no large-scale singing and dancing.
(See Musical, Opera, Pantomime).

Plug
Wrongly used to denote an electrical Outlet or Receptacle, it is the Male Connector on the line cord of a Fixtureor other electrical device.

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'.

Podium
(POE-dee-um) A small, low-height Platform from which a Conductor might direct an Orchestra, or on which a person, such as an athlete, might stand to receive an award. A Lectern is often placed on a Podium to make it 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.

Practical
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, or a vacuum cleaner.

Preheat
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.

Preset
  • 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' before 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 Dimmer.

  • 2/  A Lighting look that is set on a Board either via a row of manual Faders, or Programmed to a submaster Fader.

Preshow
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 beforehand.

Preshow Look
A Lighting Preset seen while a 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 performance.

   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.

Preview
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.

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.)

Producer
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 Tour.
(See Producer and Promoter.)

Production Table
A table or desk in the House where the Director, Stage Manager, and other principals sit during rehearsals. Well set-up ones will have lighting and electrical outlets included.

Professional
One who derives the major portion of income from performing.
(See Amateur and Semi-Professional.)

Program
To group Faders to Submasters or to the Cue Stack. This can also include setting levels (intensities) and Timed Fades along with any other effects of which the Board is capable.
(See Patch.)

Projection
The technique of giving volume to one's voice without yelling. This is done so that Spectators in the farthest reaches can make out the Dialogue.

Promoter
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.)

Prompt
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 staying in character) that reminds the forgetful Actor where he is with his lines. The latter, when done skilfully, can happen in front of Spectators without them realising one or more Actors have briefly gone off Script.

Prop
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 and a wallet.

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.

Proscenium
(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".
 
    Q
Q2Q
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 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 are required.

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. This is usually on wheels so that fast scene changes can be accomplished by turning and butting multiple Quad Flats together.
(See Triangle 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.
 
    R
Rake
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 skewed furniture. This meant either having to shorten the Upstage legs or add blocks to the Downstage ones so that they could be made level. This was known as "Anti-Raking" and was not favoured by Set Designers and Crew. Another disadvantage was that any object dropped might tumble all the way to the Downstage and right off the edge!

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.

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.)

Read-Through
After roles have been Cast and Actors come to their first Rehearsal 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.

Receptacle
Often wrongly called a Plug, it is used to denote an electrical Outlet, into which a Plug goes.

Relamp
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 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 during transit.

   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.

Reprise
(reh-PRYse) The repeating of an entire musical passage, or part of it, at some time later in a Show, sometimes with changes.

   Some people pronounce it as "REE-pryse" when using it as a verb.

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.

Reveal
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.)

Rider
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 their Crew.

Riser
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 Stage.

   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 Lens.

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 more difficult.

   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.

Roundel
A piece of round glass or plastic that is typically seen in Borderlights. It can provide colour, diffusion, spread, or combinations of the three.

Routine
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 "Routines".

Run
  • 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 "...Run through...")

  • 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."

Runway
See Thrust Stage.
 
    S
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.)

Sand Bag
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.)

Saturation
A Colour Property that determines how deep it is. As an example, a Dark Red filter is more Saturated than a Light Red filter.

Schtick
(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 is Sylvia Lennick as `Calpurnia' with her catchphrase of "Julie, don't go" from a Wayne and Shuster comedy skit.

Score
The written Music for a show. It includes all parts for all musicians.

Scoop
A type of Fixture with a large reflector that produces a wide, soft light. Often used to illuminate backdrops or Cycloramas.

Screwdriver
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:

  • Blade/  This Bit fits the slot in the head of older screws. The tool is sometimes referred to as a "Slot Driver".

  • 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 seating.

  • 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 in 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.
   Screwdrivers that are meant for hex (six-sided) screw sockets are referred to as "Hex Drivers".

Scrim
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 Actors.

   Sometimes referred to as "Gauze".

Script
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.

See
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 Venue.

Set
  • 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/  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 pieces and 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.

Setting
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.

Semi-Professional
One who derives a good portion of income from performing, but does have other sources of payment for work.
(See Amateur and Professional.)

Shutters
Four or eight flat blades of stainless steel that reside within an Ellipsoidal. Each has an external handle that allow 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.

Sidelight
Any Lighting that comes from positions to either Side of a performer or object.
(See the Lighting Position Diagram.

Sightlines
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.

Skirt
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 "Spring Hook".

Socket
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.

Soliloquy
(soh-LIL-oh-kwee) A long speech given by a solo Actor.

Snoot
See Top Hat.

Special
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.

Special Effects
These are enhancements that are used to punctuate a performance. They might include a strobe light, bubbles, thunder and lightning, or much more elaborate setups such as an Actor skiing down a hill with Scenery moving behind and snow falling.

Spectrum
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.

Spike
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 many marks become too apparent to the Audience. To reduce their noticeability, usually only Upstage corners are marked.

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 during Rehearsal, the Plot is used to recreate the marks from that space on the actual Stage. The Plot is then posted Backstage as a guide for the stage crew to follow during performances.

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 be included.

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.)

Spill
Any Light that shines where it is unwanted.

Stage
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 delayed.

Stage Centre
The Central area of a Stage. Also referred to as "Centre Stage".

Stagehand
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
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.

   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.

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.)

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 that produce a starry sky effect.

Starters
(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 Lens.

Stipple
To dimple or make little mounds on a surface. It is typically done to lenses to soften the Light being transmitted.

Stooge
See Confederate.

Strike
  • 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.

  • 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.

Stripdoors
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 solid barrier.

   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.

Striplight
See Borderlight.

Subtext
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.
 
    T
Talk
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 and 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.

Threefer
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 a point.

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 used.

   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-performer 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. Largely supplanted by Audio recordings.

Tilt
To adjust a Fixture in a Vertical Direction.

Timed Fade
For a Board that is capable, one can set the level to which, or from which, a particular Channel or group of Channels gets brighter or dimmer for a given number of seconds. This is most often seen with Crossfades from one look to another.

Tint
A lighter shade of a colour; one that is not highly Saturated.

Tips
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 tighter seal.

Top Hat
A cylinder the same diameter as the initial Light Beam of a Fixture. A Top Hat fits into a Fixture's Accessory Holder so as to lessen Spill.

   Also known as a "Snoot".

Toplight
Illumination from a Fixture that is pointed straight down.

Tormentor
A Fixture mounted on a Tormentor Pipe. 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. It is said to "torment" actors because of its close proximity and often low angle.

Tormentor Pipe
A Pipe mounted just Off Stage, usually vertically in the Downstage corner.

Track
A recorded, individual Audio Sound or Music File.

Translucent
(trans-LOO-sent) A material that transmits Light but breaks up its rays so that an image is not well defined, if at all.

Transparent
(trans-PAIR-ent) A material that transmits Light and retains an non-distorted image.

Traveler
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
This is three Flats butted along their vertical edges and strapped together to form a Triangle. Each side has a different scene or paint scheme. It is usually on wheels so that fast scene changes can be accomplished by rotating and butting multiple Triangle Flats together.
(See Quad Flat)

Truck
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.

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.

Twist-Lock
A round Electrical Connector that becomes captive to its mate by being Twisted clockwise.

Twofer
A Cable with one Male Connector wired to two Female Connectors. The term comes from "two for one".
 
    U
U-Ground
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.

Ultraviolet
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.

Understudy
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".

Uphouse
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.

Upstage
The area toward the Back of the Stage.
(See the Venue Layout.

   This term also refers to one performer distracting 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 moment.

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.
 
    V
Vamp
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 ready, the musical piece continues onward from the end of the repeated part.

Vanish
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 Misdirection and Reveal.)

Venue
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."
 
    W
Walk-Through
A loose Rehearsal where the actors, dancers and singers Walk Through their roles on the completed Set. This is to have them become used to the finished Set, but also to look for issues with Blocking.

Wardrobe Master
See Costume Master.

Warmup
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, 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.

Wash
To Illuminate a Stage with Light so that most, if not all areas are covered.

Washroom
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.

Wings
The side areas just Off Stage.
 
    X
XLR
(X. L. R.) A three-pin Microphone connector, or a five-pin Lighting Equipment connector for Digital Systems. Also used to designate Cables having XLR connectors.

Xrays
See Borderlight.
 
    Y
Yoke
The rectangular or U-shaped, three-sided frame that supports a Lighting Fixture and allows it to be hung, and to be Panned and Tilted.
 
    Z
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.




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