ACTOR – The person who portrays a character in a play. The word “actor” can describe a man or a woman.  Actress is a woman who acts.

AD LIB – To make up lines that are not in the script, to improvise

AUDIENCE – A group of people who come to see a performance.

AUDITION – A tryout by an actor; the director decides who the best person for each part.

BACK-STAGE DIRECTING – “Back-stage directing” is when one actor gives another actor direction, line readings, or character interpretation – this is inappropriate because only the Director or Stage Manager is allowed to do this.  

WORKING BUSINESS – Working business is when one actor works with another on timing, handling props, or stage combat – both actors are in the scene together and benefit from working together.

BLOCKING – Movement on stage; it is developed during rehearsal by the director and the actors. Everyone knows where every actor, prop, and set piece is placed during the play. Blocking is very similar to a dance routine or a football play.

  • UP STAGE –                                       the actor moves to the back of the stage and away from the audience
  • DOWN STAGE –                               the actor moves toward the audience
  • STAGE LEFT –                                    the actor’s left when facing the audience
  • STAGE RIGHT –                                the actor’s right when facing the audience
  • OPEN TO THE AUDIENCE –           keeping the actor’s face and body visible to the audience
  • CHEATING OUT –                            turning the body and face in an open position to the audience

CALLBACK – The last phase of auditions is the “callback.” A select group of actors are called to audition once more for roles in a play. They may read with a number of different actors, receive special coaching, or read the most emotionally demanding scenes one last time before a cast list is posted.

CALL TIME – The absolute latest time an actor can arrive at the theatre.

CHARACTER – A make-believe person played by an actor or actress.

CHOREOGRAPHER – A choreographer is the creative-team member responsible for dance movement to songs and production numbers. He/she may be assisted by a “dance captain” who can also teach and review the choreography with cast members.

COSTUMES – Costumes tell about the character: personality, job (like a nurse or police officer), economic status: wealth or poverty, special occasion (like weddings or school photo day).

CUE – The line or music phrase before a line or entrance or exit that prompts an actor. When memorizing, actors must know the cue before every one of his/her own lines.

DIRECTOR – The person in charge of the play, who casts the characters and who works with the Scene Designer, Costume Designer, Prop Designer, Sound and Lighting Designers to determine how the play will look.

DRESS REHEARSAL – The final rehearsals prior to performances in which all technical elements including costumes and hair/make-up are included. Usually, these rehearsals are run without interruption as if an audience were present.

FLY / FLY RAIL – Scenery that is raised and lowered by ropes and/or wire is called scenery that “flies.” The fly loft is located directly over the stage; it is the tallest point in most theatres to accommodate flying scenery while it is out of sight from the audience. The “fly rail” is the rope, weights, and pulley system needed to fly the scenery. It is very dangerous and off limits to non-crew stage personnel.

LIGHT BOARD OPERATOR – The light board operator is responsible for operating the lighting control system for a specific production. The light board operator attends all technical rehearsals and performances. He/she are expected to participate in any strike following the closing performance.

LOAD IN / STRIKE – Load In is when the set, costumes, props are taken to the theatre and installed in their proper place for the run of the production. Strike is when the set, costumes, props etc., are removed from the theatre and returned to their storage areas.

PERFORMANCE LEVEL – All actors are expected to rehearse with the same energy, commitment, and focus “as if” an audience was present.

PHOTO CALL – Actors arrive at the theatre and get into costume and make-up as quickly as possible to take production photographs.

PROSCENIUM ARCH – The main “picture frame” at the front of the stage – it frames the acting area.

PROPERTIES OR HAND PROPS – Any item carried by an actor: briefcase, hairbrush, puppet, book, …

PROPS MASTER/MISTRESS – Gathers and/or construct props needed for production; attend all tech week & performances.

REHEARSAL – Time spent practicing the play. It includes blocking, memorizing, and creating the characters. Rehearsals don’t have an audience present.

RUN-THROUGH – A rehearsal when the actors have memorized and rehearse the show from beginning to the end without stopping.

SCRIPT – The written version of the play. It tells a story using characters, dialogue (conversation), and actions. A playwright is the author of a play.

SETS/ SCENERY – Locations needed to tell the story: a classroom, a kitchen, a playroom…

SHIFT REHEARSAL – A rehearsal for the stage management team and the Run Crew to rehearse scene changes.

SIDES – the portions of the script used for readings in auditions & call-backs.

SOUND BOARD OPERATOR – The sound Board operator uses the sound equipment to play back sound effects for a specific production. There can be complicated sound effects, which require quick thinking and hand/eye coordination. The sound board operator attends all technical rehearsals and performances.  He/she are expected to participate in any strike following the closing performance

SPIKE MARK – The tape mark on the stage floor showing the actors where to place a piece of scenery or where to stand.


  • “Stage” is the part of the theatre where the acting takes place.
  • “House” is where the audience sits.
  • “Backstage” is where the scenery is kept and where the actors wait to enter.
  • “Front of House” is where the audience buys tickets and waits in the lobby.
  • “Apron” is the extension or acting area in front of the proscenium arch.
  • “Upstage” is the area of the stage farthest from the audience.
  • “Downstage” is the area of the stage closest to the audience.
  • “Wings” are the areas off stage where actors and scenery stay out of sight of the audience.
  • “Legs” are the curtains located at each side of the side that hide the wing space.
  • “Backdrops” are scenic pieces that hang from battens overhead to depict different locations.
  • “Cyclorama” or “Cyc” is a white sheet that hangs from a batten upstage and lit with different colors.
  • “Flats” are smaller backdrops depicting locations and scenery in the play.
  • “Wagons” are scenic pieces on wheels and roll on stage and off.
  • “Platforms” are raised scenic pieces that actors can stand on.



Character names are abbreviated; usually with first initial.

LQ – light cue

SQ – sound cue

R – right

SR – stage right

L – left

SL – stage left

DS- downstage

US- upstage

USR – Upstage right

DSR – down stage right

USL – upstage left

DSL – downstage left

DC- down center

USC- up stage center

En – enter

Ex – exit

X – Cross (as in crosses stage)

SL1 – first “leg” at left stage

SL2 – second “leg” at left stage

SL3 – third “leg” at left stage

SR1 – first “leg” at right stage

SR2 – second “leg” at right stage

SR3 – third “leg” at right stage


STAGE MANAGER – A respected creative-team member who is second to the director. The stage manager is responsible for all aspects of rehearsals/performances, taking down blocking notes for actors, maintaining a property list, creating the property tables for a production, and the person who calls technical cues for lights and sound during a performance.

STOP & START or WORK THROUGH – A rehearsal when the director stops and works a scene or line or set change, and the actors begin the scene again.

STRIKE – The set and costumes and props are sorted, disassembled, moved from the theatre, and stored in their proper place.

TECHNICAL REHEARSAL – A rehearsal when the technical crew learns the cues and movement for a production. Scenery, props, lighting cues, sound cues, music cues, costumes/fast changes are added to the rehearsal. The tech rehearsals always take place in the theatre. These are the most stressful and demanding rehearsals – time, energy, focus, and safety.

TECH/DRESS – A rehearsal when the actors are in full make-up and costume, and run the play as if it is a performance.

WINGS – The areas to the right and left of the stage where actors and scenery wait to come on.