Theatre Lingo Part 1

Can’t tell apart your phone calls from your stage calls?  Don’t know where upstage or downstage is? What does the stage manager take note of? All these and more will be answered ArtZine‘s Theatre Lingo series. Know your terms and take a look at Part 1 of ArtZine‘s Theatre Lingo series.


Ad Lib: Any lines or actions improvised by the actor.

Apron: The part of the stage floor that extends beyond the proscenium arch. (see picture below) A proscenium arch is a large archway at or near the front of the stage, through which the audience views the play.


Backstage: The whole area behind the stage, including wings, dressing rooms, control booths and green room.

Blocking: Refers to the precise movement and positioning of actors on a stage, usually pre-determined by the director during rehearsal, telling actors where they should move for the proper dramatic effect and to ensure sight lines for the audience. The stage manager takes note of the stage directions using the terms below. (see image)


Call: The warning a stage manager gives to the actors about the exact amount of time left before the curtain rises. The most common call times are half-hour, fifteen minutes, five minutes, and places.

Callboard: Bulletin board located backstage in the green room on which the stage manager posts important information for cast and crew. Examples of posted items are scene breakdown; rehearsal schedule; performance schedule; performance running times; sign-in sheet; ticket request forms; reminders of social events; messages from the public.

Collective Creation: The process by which theatre artists work together as a group to create a play. The group may be made up exclusively of actors, or it may also include a director, playwright and designers.

Corpse: Theatre slang. To “corpse” for an actor means to lose control onstage during a performance or a run-through and laugh uncontrollably. It is often contagious among actors onstage. This is considered unprofessional conduct!

Cue Light: A light that when turned on warns a crew or cast member to perform a cue or to make an entrance. The light going out signals “go.”

More coming soon on ArtZine‘s Theatre Lingo series!

2 thoughts on “Theatre Lingo Part 1

  1. Pingback: Theatre Lingo Part 2 « ArtZine

  2. Pingback: Theatre Lingo III « ArtZine

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