accent
The specific sound qualities of the speech of a region.
agent of fate
A person, situation.
allegory
A form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself.
antagonist
A person, situation, or the protagonist’s own inner conflict that is in opposition to the protagonist’s goals.
arena stage
A performance space in which the audience sits all around the stage; sometimes called “in-the-round.”
articulation
The clear and precise pronunciation of words.
audition
An interview-like opportunity in which actors are able to demonstrate their talents, meet the person hiring the cast, and leave impressions of the themselves.
back story
A biography of a character before the action of a play.
blocking
Coordination of actors’ movements on stage.
casting
Choosing actors to play specific roles in a play.
choreographer
An artist who designs movement for the stage.
cue
A trigger for an action to be carried out at a specific time. Common cues include light cues and sound cues.
dialect
Language features particular to the speech of a specific region.
dramatic structure
The structure of a play, including exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
dramaturg
A special consultant who provides specific, in-depth knowledge and literary resources to a director, producer, or entire theater company. Responsibilities may include selection of plays, working with authors on adaptations of text, and writing programming notes for the company.
emotional recall
The technique of calling upon your own memories of emotions to understand a character’s emotions.
fly space
The area above a stage where lights, drops, and scenery may be flown, or suspended on wire ropes.
foil
A character whose personality and physical appearance contrast with those of the protagonist.
house manager
The person responsible for the day-to-day operations of a theater building, including ticket sales, ushering, and the maintenance of the building.
improvisation
Speaking or acting without a script.
incidental
A character that rarely plays a major role in the story and tends to serve as part of the backdrop of a scene.
librettist
The writer of a text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, musical, or ballet.
monologue
A story, speech, or scene performed by one actor alone.
motivation
A character’s reason for doing or saying things.
pantomime
To act without words through facial expression and gesture.
playwright
A person who writes dramatic literature or drama. These works may be written specifically to be performed by actors or they may be closet dramas or literary works written using dramatic forms but not meant for performance.
primary tools
In acting, the primary tools are body, voice, and mind.
projection
Using voice or gestures forcefully enough to be perceived at a distance.
props
Everything required during the action of a play that does not count as furniture, costume, or scenery. Props may include objects like eyeglasses, knitting, or telephones.
proscenium stage
A performance space in which the audience views the action as if through a picture frame.
protagonist
The main character of a play and the character with which the audience identifies most strongly.
rehearsal
The act of practicing in preparation for a public performance.
rendering
A finished representation of a set or costume, produced with colored pencil, paint, pastel, marking pens, or computer graphics.
scenery
Onstage decoration to help establish the time and place of a play.
script
The text of a play.
script scoring
Making notations on a copy of a script. Actors often add notes about motivation or specific actions during a scene.
secondary tools
In acting, the secondary tools are sets, props, costumes, makeup, sound, and lighting.
set
The onstage physical space and its structures in which the actors perform.
sight lines
Lines indicating visibility of onstage and backstage areas from various points in the theater. Sight lines have to be considered when designing sets and staging action so that as much as possible everyone in the theater can see everything vital to the play.
soliloquy
A character’s speech to himself or herself. The character reveals personal thoughts without addressing another speaker.
stage combat
Physical conflict onstage, both armed and unarmed.
symbol
A concrete image used to represent an abstract concept or idea.
thrust stage
A combination of the proscenium and the arena stages, with the audience sitting on two or three sides of the acting area.
voice-over
A recording of a voice that plays over other sounds.
wings
The left and right sides of a stage immediately outside the scenery, unseen by the audience.