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Topical vocabulary general terminology

act - 1) n one of the principal structural divisions of a dramatic work, usually in a play, from one to five in number; 2) v to perform, to represent a character in a dramatic production; 3) v in British terminology, said of a dramatic work which is actable. E. g. It acts well. (U. S.: to play well)

appear, be in = to act, to play

act-change - a change in the stage setting at the end of an act

act intermission - an intermission between acts. British: act interval (also entracte)

actor - a person who acts, that is, who represents a character in a dramatic production (feminine actress)

actor folk = actors

actor manager - an actor who has his own company, in which he himself is usually producer and star

alternate - one of two actors who alternate in specific role

big name - a performer whose name attracts the public, a headliner. Hence, big name actor

born actor/actress

company - a group of actors appearing together in one or more dramatic performances

dead stick - in British terminology, an actor who spoils a performance

extra - an actor who speaks no lines, or speaks lines only as a member of a crowd. British: super (supe, supernumerary)

guest actor - a distinguished actor playing temporarily with a repertory or stock company. Hence: guest performance

headliner - an outstanding actor

matinee idol - a male actor whom female theatre-goers admire extravagantly

old stager - a veteran actor

show-stopper - an actor, a part of a play, so successful that the audience's applause momentarily delays the continuation of a performance

understudy - to learn the role of another actor so if necessary one may take his place. Hence, an understudy, understudying, understudy

People's/Honoured Actor (Dancer)

Honoured for Services to the Arts (e. g. to be put in brackets after the person's name) = Заслуженный деятель искусств

amateur - a person who acts without pay; sometimes used in ridicule to mean 'not of high calibre'. Hence, amateur actor (company, performance, theatre)

as - in the role of

benefit - a theatrical performance, the profits of which are given to some course or person. Hence, benefit night (performance, show, concert)

bill - a playbill, a theatrical advertisement, such as a poster

billboard - a board on which a theatrical advertisement may be posted

board - 1) pl. a stage, e. g. to walk the boards = to act on a stage; 2) a theatre advertisement, a poster; 3) the administrative officials of a theatre

bow [au] - to acknowledge the applause of the audience, by bending forward at the waist

curtain - a hanging screen in a theatre, usually admitting of being drawn up or aside

curtain man - a stage-hand responsible for the operation of a curtain

draw the curtain (on, over)

drop the curtain - to lower the curtain

ring down the curtain - to lower the curtain

ring the curtain up - to raise the curtain

the curtain drops / falls

the curtain rises / swings open

the curtain is up / down

debut - an actor's first appearance, whether at the beginning of his theatrical career, in the opening of a new production, or in a new place

make a debut

drama - 1) = theatre 1); 2) a serious play

drama school, drama student

drama class / course / club

drama / theatre critic

first night - an opening night. Hence, first-nighter - a person who habitually attends first nights


appear before the footlights - to become an actor

smell of the footlights - to be unnatural, stagy

get over the footlights - to be a success (about a performance)

histrionic - theatrical, pertaining to acting or actors. E. g. histrionic powers, abilities


the lights go down / up

matinee - an afternoon, or sometimes a morning performance

opera glasses - binoculars used for viewing the stage


first performance

evening performance


direct, produce, stage a play

do a play (colloq.)

e.g. The Royal Court did a series of plays by D. H. Lawrence.

present a play

put on a play - used mainly with reference to the administrative and financial side

revive a play

types of play: tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy, farce, drama (straight play), historical play / drama, history plays (histories) - Shakespeare's plays on historical subjects - musical, musical comedy

two-act play

stage adaptation / version


production - that version of the play which the director creates for presentation on the stage

preview - a try-out performance before an invited audience

rehearsal - a practice session to prepare a production for public performance. Hence, to be in rehearsal, rehearsal room

camera performance - a rehearsal at which photographs are taken for publicity purposes

dress rehearsal - a complete rehearsal in costume, usually the last one before the opening night

light rehearsal - a rehearsal of all the lighting operations for a production

repertory (repertoire) - a group of plays which a company has been trained to perform and which are usually played in turn. Hence, repertory company (show, theatre)

In repertory / repertoire means “in rotation, in turn, alternating with other productions.”

review - a published critical comment on a stage production, especially in a newspaper or magazine

run - n, v

e.g. There are several musicals running in London at the moment.

This is claimed to be the world's longest-ever run .

scene - a division of a dramatic work smaller than an act

crowd scene - a scene in which many actors, especially extras, participate

the scene of action - the place in which the action of a play is laid

to quit the scene - to retire from the stage

stage name - a name assumed by an actor for professional purposes

theatre - 1) dramatic art, drama, plays; 2) a building where plays are performed

commercial theatres (in Britain) are those which receive no subsidy and therefore run on a commercial basis; a commercial theatre is simply a building, with no resident company

subsidized theatres (in Britain) are publicly owned, and supported from public funds by a subsidy from the Arts Council and / or the local authority; they have a permanent company of directors, actors, designers, etc., and each season stage several productions

theatre party - a group of people going to the theatre together

on tour

touring company

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