Wikipedia:WikiProject Stagecraft/Terminology

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Theatrical TerminologyEdit

This is a list of stagecraft terms and abbreviations with short definitions. Items having a separate article of their own are marked as a link in the item's title listed in this article. Those marked (*) are archaic terms.


A communications protocol currently being developed as a replacement for DMX.
Advance Bar
(UK) A lighting batten / bar hung from the Auditorium ceiling, usually fairly close to the stage, to provide steep FOH illumination.
Assistant Lighting Designer. (UK) Association of Lighting Designers - a Professional Association
An obsolete analogue communications protocol for controlling theatrical fixtures.
Animation Disc or Wheel
A large metal disc on the front of a lantern rotated by a motor cut with slots, patterns or made of painted glass, giving the impression of movement when used in profile with gobos to create animated effects (Most often water ripples or flames)
Assistant Production Manager.
Apron, Stage Apron
An area of Stage in front, or downstage, of the Proscenium Arch.
Assistant Stage Manager.
Assistant Technical Director.
Audio Desk
See Mixing Console
Austrian Curtain
See: Curtain
Automated Fixture
Lighting Fixtures with integral electronics allowing the electrician to remotely adjust various features of the fixture, including but not limited to: pan, tilt, intensity, colour, gobo and effects. Also known as a Moving Light when it is capable of movement.


Refers to the areas of a venue, generally behind or beside the performance space, traditionally anywhere behind the Proscenium Arch not accessible to the general public.
Barn Doors
Hinged flaps attached to a frame, mounted on the front of a theatrical fixture to shape or prevent the spill of the light.
A horizontal metal pipe, suspended above the Stage area, from which either Scenery, Cloths or lighting instruments are suspended or 'flown' from the fly system.
Book, The
Name given to the master copy of the Script of a show held by Stage Management in which all the actions and Cues in a show are written down for reference.
Board operator, Board Op
Technician responsible for controlling the Lighting Console or Audio Desk during a performance.
Beam Angle
The portion of the cone of light created by a theatrical fixture where the intensity is at least 50% of maximum.
Beginners Call
(UK) Call for performers given 5 minutes before curtain up, when all performers are expected to be in position ready for the start of the show.
Any utility curtain(s), black in color, intended purely as masking.
Horizontal drapes across and above the Stage area used to hide lighting, scenery, cloths & rigging from view.
A vertical pipe for mounting lighting instruments, scenery, or other items.
Boom Arm
A Clamp attaching to a Boom to hang a lighting instrument from. See: Side Arm
see Color magazine
Booth, Tech Booth
Small Control Room room at the back of the theatre where the lighting and sometimes audio board operator is situated.
Box Boom
A vertical pipe on which lighting instruments are mounted in the Auditorium. Name comes from their position near the "box seats"


A metallic clamp for attaching theatrical fixtures to battens or scenic elements.
An announcement made by the Stage Management team to the backstage area via the paging system. Also refers to the time that the Cast or Crew are asked to arrive at the Theatre the next working day.
Cam-Lok, Cam's
Generic term for the most common single pole high power connector used in North America.
Carpenter, Carps.
The individual or department responsible for the fabrication and installation of scenic elements in a production. In larger venues or productions Stage Carpenters refer are responsible solely for scenic elements on the stage, not fabrication.
A suspended walkway above the stage level to allow access to lighting positions, rigging, or other suspended equipment or scenery.
Centre Line
An imaginary line bisecting the stage centred on the proscenium opening.
Centre Stage
Stage direction denoting positioning on the centre line.
Cheeseburough, Cheese
(US) An extruded aluminum clam-shell coupler designed for quick and safe mounting of heavy equipment on a batten. Rapidly replacing the c-clamp as the most common clamping device for theatrical fixtures.
The Canadian Institute of Theatre Technology.
Coffin Lock
A mechanism for mechanically joining two pieces of scenery, this mechanism is mounted within the scenery so as to be invisible to the audience.
Color Frame
metal assembly used to hold and support gels and color media in the color holder of a lighting instrument.
Color Magazine
A color magazine in a followspot consisting of several gel frames which can be swung in front of the light beam.
Color Media
any type of device used to color a beam of light. Usually referring to color gels but also dirocloric glass, etc.
Company Switch
The switched point of disconnect for a mains feed to power distribution. Typically 100 Amps or greater. There may be an individual company switch for audio that would usually be transformer isolated to minimize noise being induced from dirty power.
An point in the Script which denotes an action by either Cast or Crew. The point is marked in the Book and either Called or signalled by means of a Cue Light by the DSM calling the show.
Cue Light
A small light visible to an actor or technician to allow them to know when to take their Cue, usually controlled by the DSM.
Cyclorama, Cyc
A large, generally white or pale blue, wall or drop upstage in a theater, used when lit to represent Sky, a Setting, or a Horizon.
Cyclorama Light, Cyc Light
lighting instrument typically made up of multiple cells on separate electrical circuits. Each light is typically geled a different color, Red, Green, and Blue, so theoretically any color can paint the white cyclorama. Commonly shortened to Cyc lights, and confused with border lights and strip lights. (UK) Type of asymmetrical Floodlight.
Heavy fabric draped across the proscenium to obscure the stage. Term used to refer to the beginning and ending of a performance (when the curtain opens and closes).
Curtain Call
Piece at end of performance when performers return to stage for audience recognition.


See Dichroic glass. Used as an alternative to color media for more elaborate effects or to better withstand the heat created by a lighting fixture.
A device for controlling the intensity of theatrical fixtures.
towards the audience.
The current industry standard communications protocol for controlling theatrical fixtures.
Doughnut, Donut
A metallic or cardboard frame inserted into the front of a theatrical fixture to reduce the diameter of the emitted beam, creating a more focused light.
A large pipe filled with holes situated just upstage of the Curtain attached to a high pressure hydrant and used to drench the cloth in the event of a fire.
A piece of scenery, generally flat fabric, suspended from above, and often 'dropped' into a scene (Either by unfurling or flying)


Edison Connectors
(US) Standard electrical connectors for residential branch circuits. Available in connectors (female) that support both 15A & 20A Plugs (male). In entertainment they are primarily used in non-dim applications, Power supplies, task lights...
(US) Batten installed with electrical and sometimes data circuits that provide power and information for lighting instruments. (Known as an IWB in the UK)
Title of the department in a theatrical production crew responsible primarily with lighting, but also supplying all electrical needs on-stage for a specific production.
Title given to an individual responsible for lighting, sound & AV in a theatrical production; someone working in the Electrics department. NB: Individuals in a theatrical application titled "Electrician" are NOT necessarily certified or licensed as electricians.
Ellipsoidal reflector spotlight, ERS
Lighting instrument with an ellipsoidal shaped reflector behind the source and crisp optics used to produce sharp projections, long thin beams, and spotlighting. Commonly referred to as ERS, Ellipsoidal, spotlight, or by popular brands such as Source Four/ S4 and Leko.
See Half-top.


An electrical adapter converting from a male stage pin to a Female EDison connector.
Field Angle
The "whole" cone of light created by a theatrical fixture. More specifically, that portion of the cone of light where the intensity is 10% of maximum or more.
Fire Curtain
Fireproof curtain that is rigged downstage-most of all other rigging that can be automatically or manually deployed during a fire as a divided between the house and the stage area to prevent fire spread. The curtain's gear system free falls the curtain to approximately over head height, then slows it down. Also known in the UK as the Iron
Term for theatrical luminaire.
Scenery piece, typically intended to represent walls or similar structures used to define the acting space. Generally constructed of wooden frames consisting of dimensional timber (e.g.: 1" x 3") covered with either theatrical canvas or thin lightweight wood such as masonite or skin-ply.
The act of placing the bottom edge of something hung from the Flys (typically a Flat or Drape) a short distance above the deck. Typically no more than 4 - 6 cm. (2 - 3"). (UK) somewhat dated term for a set of Footlights
Focus position where a lighting fixture is outputing the widest beam possible. Created by moving the lens towards the lamp.
See: Stage
Floor Float
A small wooden or metal plate used as a base to place theatrical fixtures on the floor.
Fly Gallery
Open space above the stage wherein items on movable pipes or battens are stored out of the sight of the audience.
Fly Crew
Individuals responsible for the set-up and operation of the fly system in a theatre. Often a sub-department of Stage Carpenters.
Catch-all term for items on movable pipes or battens hung above the stage on a counter-weight system. Also, used to refer to soft masking, drapery and scenic elements, electrics pipes attached to the counter-weight system. Does not include performers attached to an aerial flying system.
Foy Rig
Originally meant a rigging system designed by Peter Foy to safely fly performers. Commonly used to refer to any Peter Pan type of flying rig, regardless of origin.
Fresnel lantern,Fresnel
Any lighting instrument with a Fresnel lens. Used primarily to produce soft washes and fill light. Inconsistencies in the intensity of light generated by the fresnel lens ('Scatter'), give a particular quality of light most often used for overhead, side, or rear lighting above or around the stage area.
Front of House, FOH
Everything Downstage of the Proscenium Arch and therefore everything accessible to the public outside the performance space (lobby, etc.); OR title for staff who interact directly with the audience, including ushers, ticket takers, etc.
The percentage pleating of a curtain to make a flat curtain wavy. Ex: A curtain of width of 2w hung with 100% fullness would tie to a width of w.


(US) Indicates the brand (Gam) and catalogue number for identifying gel sheets used to colour lighting beams. This code is usually written on gels in grease pencil and used in lighting plots.
Gaffer Tape
Black adhesive tape that is very sticky and deals fairly well with heat. Used in Theatres for a multitude of applications, but most often in taping down Cables & Carpet.
Manufacturer of coloured media for theatrical fixtures (gel), as well as other lighting related products.
High heat resistant colored plastic celophane that is used to color conventional beams of light.
A steel or glass pattern that is placed in the beam of a light of a theatrical fixture to project an image. See pattern.
Gender Bender
An adapter consisting of two identical connectors (female) or plugs (male). Typically used on low voltage control or communication systems. Used on Cam-Lok power systems in the US to account for regional variation in the configuration of mains feed connection.
Gobo Holder
A metallic frame for holding gobo's.
the structure from which items are suspended in a theater.
command for a cue to happen - the moment when it should actually take place, also (US) the time that a show actually starts, as opposed to the call, when one is expected to attend the theatre.


Half, half-hour call
30 minute warning given to cast and crew before performance. A British Half is actually 35 minutes before curtain, in the UK therefore the half hour call is given half an hour before the Beginners call (5 Minutes before curtain up, when all performers are expected to be in position ready for the start of the show).
A portion of a metallic tube mounted to the gel frame holder to shape the output from theatrical fixtures, intended to reduce the spill. Literally 1/2 a top hat. Also may be referred to as a half hat.
Hard Edge
Term referring to the edge of a projected beam of light. A "hard edge" is very distinct and has an abrubt transition into darkness.
Head, H.O.D.
Title given to the individual in a supervisory or managerial capacity of a specific department of a production. e.g.: Head Electrician, Head Rigger, etc. The "Head Of Department".
Call made when something has fallen from above, or when something is flying in outside of a performance. All personnel on-stage should be immediately alert to above and get out of the way as soon as possible.
Hook Clamp
See: C-Clamp
Area of a venue where the audience sits.
House Left / House Right
Stage directions from the perspective of someone in the house facing the stage. Opposite of Stage Left and Stage Right.
House Lights
Architectural lighting that may be controlled by the main lighting system, or another one, and used to light the auditorium before and after the show and during intermission.


Direction of travel for items flown above the stage. Specifically refers to items moving downwards towards the stage.
Intelligent Fixtures
See: Automated Fixtures.
The communication system, used by stage management, passing verbal communications to coordinate cues and other information with all stagehands charged with the run of the show. Clearcom and Telex systems are common.
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
A mechanical diaphragm inserted into the gobo holder, designed to reduce the diameter of the beam in a theatrical fixture, increasing the throw distance.
Another term for the Safety curtain or Fire Curtain


Jack, Jack Brace, Stage Jack
A triangular brace used to hold up scenic elements. In the UK known as a French Brace


Klieg light
A high intensity ERS


Indicates the brand (Lee) and catalogue number for identifying gel sheets used to colour lighting beams. This code is usually written on gels in grease pencil and used in lighting plots.
Abbreviation for Lighting Designer.
Vertical drapes or Flats at the sides of the Stage area. See: Teasers & Tormentors
Level, Audio
Refers to the volume or SPL of a specific audio source.
Level, Lighting
Refers to the intensity of a specific illumination source, most commonly a theatrical fixture.
Light Walker
An individual hired to assist in the focus / level-set process. Generally light walkers are required to act as stand-in's for performers to allow the Lighting Designer and Director to set specific lighting levels. Often Light Walkers are requested to dress in colours close to the final costume designs.
Lighting Console
An electronic device for controlling lighting fixtures.
Lighting Designer
The individual responsible for creating the lighting design for a production, including assisting in the overall production design, the lighting plot, and cues.
Light plot, Lighting Plot
See: Plot.
A term referring to specific emotions or inferences created by a combination of scenic, atmospheric, and lighting effects. A catch phrase for the technical elements in a specific scene. e.g.: "Let's switch back to the graveyard look, I need to change some levels."
Abbreviation for Electrics


Main Rag
See: Curtain
Material intended to obscure portions of the stage from sight lines.
Electrical adapter converting from a Male EDison converting to a female stage pin.
Abbreviation for microphone
Mixing Console
An electronic device for controlling audio signals.
The process of putting a performance into a venue. e.g.: "Next week my summer stock company is going to mount a production of King Lear".
Moving Lights
See: Automated Fixtures


An electrical branch circuit that is not subject to dimming control. Used to power lighting related circuits that do not require or would be adversely affected by a dimmed supply. Non-dims may still be turned on/off remotely either by switch or a triggered relay.


Offstage, Off
Areas immediately to the left and right of the stage, concealed from the sight lines.
Operator (abbrev. Op.)
Title given to the individual functioning a console or similar control system in a production. Most commonly used to refer to the individual using a lighting console. e.g.: "Steve's the board operator on this show."
Direction of travel for items flown above the stage. Specifically refers to items moving upwards away from the stage.


P&D, Pipe and drape
Fixed or telescopic uprights supported by a steel base, and telescopic or fixed horizontals that provide a ground supported drape system with removable drape panel.
Term used to describe rotating a lighting fixture through a horizontal arc (parallel to the stage deck.)
Peter Pan Rig
See: Foy Rig.
Another name for a Batten, Barrell or Bar
Pipe Clamp
See C-clamp
Pit, Orchestra pit
Lowered area in front of the stage in which the Orchestra performs.
Plaster Line
An imaginary line across the upstage edge of the Proscenium delineating where the fire curtain intersects the stage.
A stylized drawing of the acting space containing the basic architectural features of the space (walls, stage apron, proscenium opening, etc.) upon which the specific elements of a production are drafted. Plots specific to a department are often produced for clarity. (e.g.: Lighting plots which contain all the battens with lights on them, but exclude set pieces and drapery. Sound plots which indicate speaker positions, but not lighting, etc.)
A connector designed by Neutrik to carry mains power.
Power Distribution; PD; Distro
The hardware that divides a mains/feed power supply to branch circuits. This device typically has a mains disconnect (master) and individual branch circuit over current protection (circuit breakers), may also be provided with pass thru mains/feed connectors.
Practical, Practical Fixture
The catch all term for ordinary lighting fixtures (such as desk lamps), or receptacles included into a set by the electrics department, intended to be operated by the performers. The term practical can also refer to a Practical effect.
Proscenium, Proscenium Arch
The opening at the front of the stage.
Production Manager
Individual on a theatrical production ultimately responsible for all production and personnel requirements which do NOT fall under the role of the Technical Director. Typically this also includes all production budgeting.
Abbreviation of Production Manager.
Abbreviation for pyrotechnics.
An individual trained in the safe fabrication, installation and operation of pyrotechnic effects.


Abbreviation of Cue.


Indicates the brand (Rosco) and catalogue number for identifying gel sheets used to colour lighting beams. This code is usually written on gels in grease pencil and used in lighting plots.
Slope (typically, but not exclusively, from upstage to downstage) built into the stage.
Rigger, Riggers
See: Fly crew.
Manufacturer of coloured media for theatrical fixtures (gel), as well as other lighting related products.
Rail, Pin Rail
The control area for fly systems, also the point at which rigging is secured.
Running crew
The people from the tech crew who are active while a production is actually running.


Safety Curtain
See Fire Curtain
Safety Cable, Safety Chain
A length of wire rope with a carabiner affixed to a theatrical fixture as a secondary restraint.
Set Plot
See Plot.
Sight Lines
Imaginary lines used to represent the edges or termination of the field of view of the audience.
Show Portal
A false proscenium, typically hard scenic element, specific to the show.
Sill Iron
Metal strapping affixed underneath door openings in flats to provide rigidity.
Abbreviation for Stage Manager.
Smoke Pocket
Metal flange attached to the proscenium for the fire curtain to travel in.
See Top Hat.
A large 19-pin electrical connector used to terminate multicables.
Soft Edge
Term referring to the edge of a projected beam of light. A "soft edge" is indistinct and fades smoothly into darkness.
Soft Goods
Catch all term referring to all fabric hung off battens.
Sound Plot
See Plot.
See: Mixing Console.
A type of cable connector, manufactured by Neutrik, mostly used in professional audio systems for connecting loudspeakers to amplifiers.
Uncontrolled or unintended light falling on objects or areas at the periphery of the region being illuminated.
Focus position where a lighting fixture is outputing the narrowest beam possible. Created by moving the lens away from the lamp. Catch all term for stage lighting fixtures not intended for wash lighting. Also, short for followspot or spotlight.
Slang for an electrician, disparaging.
Surface upon which a theatrical performance takes place.
Stage Carpenter, Stage Carps.
See Carpenter
Stage Left / Stage Right
Direction from the perspective of someone standing on stage facing the audience. Opposite of House Left and House Right.
Stage Manager
The individual responsible for maintaining order during a production and communicating between departments to run a show.
Stage Pin
A power connector using three linearly arranged split pins. The 20A version is constructed with a leading ground pin central to the two legs. The 60 & 100A versions have alternate configurations. Also referred to as 2P&G (2 Pins and Ground).
person used to assist in fine tuning of lighting levels, insuring that the look is perfect.
The process of disassembling a production after the final performance.


Colloquial British term used to refer to public-address or paging system.
Tableau Curtain, Tabs
See: Curtain
Teasers & Tormentors
Horizontal and vertical flat drapes or hard framed masking intended to mask portions of the stage. Named, respectively, for their relative ease to work with or change. Typically these elements are used in conjunction to create a false proscenium immediately upstage of the main curtain.
Technical crew or tech crew
The people who run the off-stage aspects of a production - sets, sound, lightning and so on.
Technical Director
Individual on a theatrical production ultimately responsible for ALL technical aspects and personnel of a production.
Abbreviation of Technical Director.
A purpose built venue designed for the mounting and presentation of acting, musical, or dance performances.
Term used to describe rotating a lighting fixture through a vertical arc (90° to the stage deck.)
Toggle, Toggle Rail
Horizontal braces across the back of a flat.
Top Hat
A metallic tube mounted to the gel frame holder to shape the output from theatrical fixtures, intended to reduce the spill.
Trap Room
Room below the stage allowing access to the trap doors.
See: Curtain
Trunion arm
see Yoke
An adaptor cable with two female connectors and one male plug. The term is generally reserved for power adapters that allows two loads to be connected to a single supply.
Type of electrical connector commonly used in theatrical fixtures. When the 'male' and 'female' ends of the connector are mated together, a slight twisting motion locks the plug and receptacle together, preventing accidental disconnection. Available in a wide variety of pin configurations and voltage ratings.


U-Ground Connectors
See: Edison Connectors
Away from the audience.
The United States Institute of Theatrical Technology.


Venetian Curtain
See: Curtain
The facility in which a production is presented.
Voice of God, VOG
Colloquial term used to refer to respectively, the Stage Manager, the Director or Stage Manager's paging system, or a building wide paging system. Named in reference to a disembodied voice issuing commands.
Vom, Vomitorium
A passage situated below or behind a tier of seats, through which performers can enter.


Refers both to covering a broad area, with several stage lighting instruments, with an even intensity field of light; as well as a specific type of fixture designed to create a wash lighting effect (e.g.: Fresnel lantern).
The act of storing a drop or similarly hung soft-good by gathering the material up from the floor to the batten and securing into a long tube of fabric, either directly to the batten; or, more commonly, into a bag for long-term storage.
An L shaped piece of bracing affixed to the back of a flat or scenery piece for stiffening or to affix multiple pieces together. Often also used to affix rigging hardware to scenery. Note: Regional slang term, your results may vary.


XLR Connector, XLR
A locking multi-pin connector commonly used in theatre for the transmission of audio (3-pin), DMX (5-pin), and other low voltage signals.


A U-shaped piece of metal attached to a theatrical fixture to allow rotation through the vertical axis.