Here is a list of some of the most commonly used theater terms:

Actor: The person on stage portraying a role in a performance.

Actor Positions: How the actor is facing the audience; for example full front, three-quarters right or left, profile right or left, full back, or three quarters right or left.

Aside: Used commonly in melodrama, this is an observation or comment made directly to the audience “not heard” by the other characters onstage.

Backstage: The area where the dressing rooms or green room are located, typically, but not necessarily behind the stage. Props and set pieces are commonly kept here as well.

Beat: A unit of a scene which is smallest and most natural.

Blocking: Movement of the actor onstage, most commonly given by the director.

Casting: The process through which the director and/or the casting committee chose which actors will portray each role.

Character: Someone in the play who is portrayed by an actor.

Climax: The most exciting, tense or interesting part of a play.

Comedy: Any play which has a happy ending. Commonly refers to a humorous play.

Conflict: A clash between two opposing forces or ideas. The inner conflict of a character is usually central to any drama.

Convention: A custom of the theater which is recognized and accepted by the audience.

Cue: A signal of some sort that triggers a line or action.

Dialogue: Any speaking in a play can be referred to as a dialogue, although it is most commonly used when referring to a conversation between two characters.

Downstage, Upstage: Downstage is closest to the audience, upstage farthest away.

Farce: A comedy with broadly humorous situations and slapstick (very physical) comedy.

Melodrama: An overly dramatic play usually involving a conflict between good and evil characters. Many melodramas are written as comedies.

Method Acting: Type of acting taught by Stanislavski. It maintains that an actor must have some personal experience which helps him or her to understand the psychological and emotional make-up in order to portray that character.

Mime: Exaggerated pantomime, usually performed in black clothing and white make-up.

Plot: The “what happens” part of a play.

Property or Prop: A thing that an actor uses onstage. A “hand prop” is a small prop such as a gun, pencil or baseball.

Role: A character in a play as written by the playwright.

Set: The furniture, walls, scenery, etc… that makes up the physical “where” of a play. A set piece is part of the set such as a tree or a chair.

Sightlines: How well the audience can see the actors or the stage. A seat behind a pillar in a theater is said to have a poor sightline.

Stage Business: Actions done by the actor to further the portrayal of a character or situation to make it more authentic, rather that just standing around doing nothing.

Stage Left, Right, and Center: As the actor faces the audience these would be the actor's right, left and center.

Tragedy: A non-comedy; usually consists of much suffering and often the death of the main character.

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