Theatre Lingo III

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? ArtZine’s Lingo series is back! This week, we continue from where we ended in Theatre Lingo II.


Go Up: In theatre slang, a show does not start, it “goes up”; i.e. the curtain goes up.

Green Room: A room backstage used by actors and crew members to wait for their entrances or cues.


House: An abbreviation of Front of House; also used to describe the audience.

House Lights: Lights used to illuminate the auditorium.


Masking: Any flats or curtains that hide the backstage area from the view of the audience.


Off Book: The point in rehearsals when actors need to know all their lines and are no longer allowed to carry their scripts.


Panned: A play that has been panned has been given a very negative review by the theatre critics.

Pass Door: In many theatres, a door which leads from the auditorium to the backstage area.

Per Diems: Very important to actors: the daily expenses paid on tour.

Pit: The sunken area in front of the stage in which the orchestra sits.

Preview: A performance with an audience, which takes place before the official opening of a play. Playwrights, actors and directors use the preview to gauge audience reaction to various parts of the performance.

Preset: The placing of props, costumes, scenic elements, etc. in place prior to the beginning of a rehearsal or performance. Also refers to actors being in place for their entrances.

Prompt Book: The master copy of the script that contains all the actors’ moves on stage and all the technical cues for the production. Used by the stage manager to coordinate the running of the production. Sometimes called the prompt script or simply “the book”.

Prompt Side: The left side of the stage, as you face the audience. Traditionally the side of the stage on which the prompt corner is situated.

Prompter: A person designated to give an actor his or her line when it has been forgotten.


Rake: A stage or a riser that is built on an incline or slant. This may be done to help with visibility, or create a scenic effect.

Reprise: (Musical term) to repeat, in whole or in part, a song which has already been sung in the show.

Right: The right hand side of the stage as you look at the audience. Also known as the “opposite prompt” or “OP” side.

Riser: A platform of any size used on stage to differentiate areas or create focus.

Rostrum: A platform, whether moveable or fixed.

Run-through: A rehearsal in which the actors perform the play from beginning to end without interruption. Run-throughs are usually done toward the end of the rehearsal process when the actors’ characterizations and onstage movements are virtually set. Early attempts to run through the whole play are sometimes called “stagger-throughs” because they tend not to go smoothly.

Read Theatre Lingo I/II here.

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