Learn the Lingo

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Parts of the Theatre

Apron - the area of the stage in front of the main curtain
Backstage - the area of the stage out of the audience's view
Box Office - the office from which the tickets are sold
Costume Shop - where costumes are made
Dressing Rooms - where actors apply makeup and get into costume
Flies – area above the stage where the scenery and lights are hung, often on moveable pipes so when not needed they can fly out
Greenroom – the room backstage where the actor waits to go onstage
House – the auditorium where the audience sits
House Curtain - the main curtain separating the stage from the audience
Lobby - the area of the theatre outside the house where you might find the box office, the concession stand and the coat check
Orchestra Pit - a lowered area, in front of (sometimes under) the stage
Orchestra, Mezzanine, Balcony, Boxes - different parts of the house
Proscenium - the arch at the front of the stage that, in combination with the stage, forms the frame through which the audience views the play
Scene shop - where scenery is built
Traps – cut outs in the stage floor which can be opened to provide a quick, secret exit
Wings - the area, left and right of the stage, out of the audience's view

People who work at the Theatre

Actor - one who represents a character in a production
Box Office Staff – sell the tickets from the box office
Director - supervises the production of a show
House Manager - in charge of all elements of the front of house, the services to audience members
Props person - gathers and maintains props
Stage Crew - work for the Technical Director and, at the time of the performance, under the direction of the Stage Manager
Stage Manager - assists the director during rehearsals, and is in charge of the stage during a performance
Technical Director - oversees the pre-performance development of all technical elements of a production—lights, sound, scenery and props
Ushers - assist in the seating of audience members
Wardrobe person - prepares and maintains costumes

Words Actors and Directors Use

Ad Lib – to make up your lines
Cue – the word or line that lets you know your line is next
Downstage (close to the audience)
Go up – to forget your lines
Mugging, Hamming, Chewing the Scenery - all slang terms for overacting
On the road – to take a play or show to different theatres all over the country
Places – where everyone is supposed to be at the beginning of the play
Props - objects used in a play other than scenery and costumes
Stage right or left – from the point of view of the actor on stage
Steal a scene – for an actor to do something that take focus away from the rest of the actors
Strike – to take apart the set at the end of the play or to remove from the stage a prop or piece of scenery
Upstage (furthest away from the audience)
Walk-on – a small part with no lines (spear carrier – slang)

Theatre Superstitions

Never say "Good Luck" – instead say "Break a leg!"
Never whistle in the dressing room – it’s bad luck
Never say the title of Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, inside the theatre – instead call it "The Scottish Play" – to say Macbeth in a theatre is extremely  bad luck!

Got questions?  Other lingo you're just not sure about?  Email our Theatre Manager and resident Theatre Linguist Cindy Alexander at cindy@rvccArts.org.


The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College
118 Lamington Road, Branchburg, NJ 08876
Box Office: M-F, 11-4, 908.725.3420

The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College
P.O. Box 3300, Somerville, NJ 08876-1265 (908) 218-8867
Email questions and comments to: (theatre@rvccarts.org)


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