Stage lingo: Can you speak a theater actor's language?

Annette

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About This Quiz

It's an age-old custom for actors, directors and designers to speak to one another using stage lingo. Whether you're trying to get into theater or you're just a fan, you'll need to know theater-speak in order to understand what the heck everyone is talking about - in rehearsals, during the performance and after the show at the bar. Let the quiz begin!

If the director wants you to come closer to the audience, he or she will tell you to move...

Stages were once designed with a natural tilt to them, so the audience could see actors in the back, behind other actors. As a result, coming "downstage" literally meant coming down in height, as well as coming toward the audience. Sloped stages are still used in some theaters today.

An archaic and beloved expression for being onstage is...

Treading the boards is often used as a term for simply acting in the theater. It refers to the boards that the stage would be made of.

Actors have bad dreams at night about things going wrong on stage, such as forgetting their lines, or their pants. This is called an...

An actor's nightmare specifically refers to bad dreams about a play. It's common that these dreams occur after the play has closed successfully - sometimes even months or years after - and the actor then has dreams that everything went wrong.

Theater folk are superstitious about saying "good luck," so instead they say...

"Break a leg" is interchangeable with "merde" and "in bocca al lupo." For performers, it is considered to be extremely bad luck to simply say "good luck"! In fact, it's almost as damning as uttering the name of Macbeth in the theater. By the way, "merde" is a word for excrement and "in bocca al lupo" literally means "in the mouth of the wolf."

When an actor forgets their line onstage, the poor fellow will never forget .... on that damn line.

"Going up" on a line will simultaneously result in an actor's confidence going down. Going up is a great source of actor nightmares.

When an actor is asked to read from a play without having ever seen it before, this is known as a...

A cold read refers to an actor's first encounter with a script, when they need to read and act their lines without having a clue about what is going on. There are many auditions where actors are required to do a cold read.

When an actor can perform her lines without peeking at the script, she is...

To be "off book" refers to not having to have the script in hand when acting in the play. Getting off book is considered to be a monumental challenge for those who have memorization issues.

When a performer is seriously over-acting, the audience will snicker that they are...

You don't need to be onstage to be chewing the scenery. It happens in movies and on television all the time, as well.

The moment when all the lights in the theater go out, usually at the very beginning and end of the play, is referred to as a....

A full blackout is when there are no lights on the stage. If this should happen by accident, it's not referred to as a blackout, it's referred to as a serious problem!

When the director tells the actor to move around to certain spots on the stage, the actor dutifully notes this .... in his script. ​

This term seems to have come from the use of blocks in the rehearsal room in lieu of furniture. Noting one's blocking in the script helps the actor to remember where they were told to go on which line.

At the very end of the play, a knowledgeable​ audience member or stage manager might utter to herself...

Saying "curtain" at the end of a play is almost like a movie director saying "cut." The curtain doesn't actually fall at the end of all plays, but you can still technically​ say "curtain."

The stage manager is the one that sits up in the booth with the bible of instructions in front of them so that they might ....... the show.

"Calling" the show refers to timing the various commands that need to be given, such as calling a light or a sound cue over a headset. If for some terrible reason a show needs to be canceled, this is also referred to as calling the show.

When actors arrive at​ the theater before the show, they're required to check the ..... board for notes, announcements, and to sign in.

The call board also tells actors what time they're called for rehearsal, performance or costume fittings. Each actor is required to initial by his or her name when they arrive at the theater so that the stage manager knows that they're present.

Actors get a certain number of free tickets that they can give to friends, relatives or others. These are called....

Comps are complimentary tickets that actors can give out to whomever they choose. Sometimes an actor will have a certain number of comps for the duration of the performance.

A technical rehearsal that the actors are not required to attend (and thus, the crew is finally at ease) is called a.....

A paper tech is a time when the designers and crew can work through the show and make any necessary adjustments without having the actors standing around. They're working solely from their notes, which is the paper part of the paper tech.

The pieces of tape used on the stage to denote where pieces of furniture or set pieces should be placed are called....

Spike marks show the actors and crew where specific pieces are supposed to be placed during scene changes. Sometimes these spike marks glow in the dark.

When an actor makes a speedy costume change, it's called a...

The quick change is often a harried and tense experience. There are usually costume attendants to help with the event.

The last run-through of the play before a live performance in front of an audience is known as the...

The final dress rehearsal is considered to be the company's last chance to run through the play without an audience. After that, the play usually goes into previews before finally opening.

A dress rehearsal with an audience made up of friends of the company and fellow theater professionals is called an.....

The invited dress rehearsal puts audience members in the theater who are not paid theatergoers or critics. Often the invited dress audience is kinder than the one that is to follow!

An intern actor who is not in the union is the one that carries the spears, and is known as a ...... actor.

Non-Eq stands for non-equity. Actors Equity is the stage actors' union, and those who aren't members are known as non-Eq. They don't enjoy health insurance and they lack other protections.

A leading actress with a bad temper who is prone to histrionics is called a....

Divas are famous for a reason. Their behavior and over the top antics give them quite the reputation.

The magical, imaginary plane that separates the actors from the audience is called the...

The fourth wall is an imagined construct that helps the actor to create privacy. When the fourth wall gets broken, the actor pays too much attention to someone sitting in the front row.

An actor who strives to become the character, as opposed to merely​ pretending, is called a ...... actor.

Method acting was developed by Constantin Stanislavsky. Method actors are those that do everything they can to transform into the character that they're playing.

A door through which the audience can enter or exit the theater is referred to as the...

A vom is simply a theater entrance or exit. Vom is short for vomitorium, which has nothing to do with literally throwing up. The notion of Romans throwing up during banquets so they could consume more is considered to be a fallacy.

A rehearsal where actors are told to pick up the pace and perform the play at twice the speed is known as an ....... run through​

Another name for this is a Russian run. During an Italian run through, actors are told to speed up the dialogue and action as fast as possible. This teaches the actors to pick up their cues and shows them where they've been going too slow.

The colored pieces of plastic that lighting technicians place on the lamps overhead are called....

Gels come in every shade of the rainbow, and they help to bring life and color to the stage. Lighting designers choose their gels in order to create a certain atmosphere.

The space where the actors hang out, drink coffee and relax during the show is called the...

For whatever mysterious reason, the green room is where the actors can chill, and it's not always painted green. Sometimes it's painted blue.

The network above the stage where all the lights are hung is referred to as the....

The grid is a vast network of poles and cables where the lights are hung. In incredibly fancy theaters, the entire grid can be lowered from the ceiling so technicians​ don't have to climb up to hang lights.

The period of time before the play begins, when actors are getting into costume, is called.....

During half hour, the actors are required to be in their dressing rooms, preparing. If an actor has not signed in by half hour, then something is seriously wrong.

If an audience member is sitting on the right side of the theater, facing the stage, you could say that they're seated.....

When referring to the seating area of the theater, house right is on the right side and house left is on the left side. Duh. But sometimes people get confused. "House" right and left are from the audience's perspective.

When an actor is on the stage, and someone tells them to walk house right, they're actually being instructed to walk...

What is considered house right, is also considered stage left. That's because the perspective changes.

The black curtains that cover the entrances and exits to the stage are known as....

Masking ensures that the audience can't see backstage from where they're seated in the house. If the masking fell, then most likely an actor would be revealed, waiting to go on and in a state of panic.

Sometimes the stage is tilted so that it slants slightly downward towards the audience. This is known as a ..... stage.

A raked stage helps the audience to see all the action better. Female actors hate them because they're difficult when you're wearing heels.

The heeled shoes that actresses wear, which are timeless in appearance, are known as ..... shoes.

Character shoes can also be danced in. They come in various heel styles and usually are black or flesh-colored.

When an actor must sport a fake mustache, the hair is applied with.....

Spirit gum is a foul-smelling adhesive that is used to attach facial hair. It is painful to remove and sticks to the actor's face for days.

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