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 Basic Theater 101

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QuantumCowboy
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PostSubject: Basic Theater 101   Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:33 pm

In the vein of my "posting for posterity" admonition, I am establishing this thread for the purpose of documenting basic theater knowledge and information that could be of use to our members and guests on the forums, especially if they are new to theater.

I will be posting some of the course material handed out in the theater class components of the Palmdale City Players.

All others welcome to contribute.

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"Acting is all about honesty... if you can fake that, you've got it down." --Oscar Wilde.
"You must unlearn what you have learned." --Yoda, Jedi Master.


Last edited by QuantumCowboy on Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:12 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Theater Job Descriptions   Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:51 pm

THEATER JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Producer - The producer is the person who organizes the production. He or she secures the rights to the play, hires the director, actors and crews, leases the theatre, and secures financial backing for the play.

Director - The director is the artistic manager and inspirational leader of the production team. He or she coordinates the work of the actors, designers and crews. This person is ultimately responsible for pulling the production together into one cohesive vision.

Production Manager - The production manager is the person who is responsible for maintaining the schedule of a company's productions, developing rehearsal and performance schedules for each show, as well as construction deadlines, dress rehearsal dates and production meetings.

Stage Manager - The stage manager helps the director by taking responsibility for the majority of administrative details, which include everything from creating and distributing cast lists to communicating changes in the script to all concerned. During a performance, the stage manager's duties change from administrative support of the director to technical coordination of all production activities. The stage manager calls lighting, music and effects cues, and makes sure everyone involved in set changes knows what they are doing. The job of a stage manager is a large one, requiring great organizational and communication skills.

Technical Director - The technical director, also known as the TD, supervises construction of all scenery and properties, oversees the transportation, mounting, rigging and maintenance of the scenery on the stage.

Scenic Designer - Responsible for the appearance and function of the scenic and property elements used in the production. The designer produces sketches or renderings of the sets and props, scale models of the various sets, and scale mechanical drawings that fully describe the setting.

Scenic Artist - Under the supervision of the Designer, the scenic artist is responsible for the painting of the scenery and supervising the work of the paint crew.

Paint Crew - Paints the sets and sometimes props. This challenging job involves painting the set to make it reflect the character of the design. Frequently, the crew is asked to make a set look old, tired, abused and worn. The paint crew must know the techniques to achieve the look.

Makeup Designer - Responsible for designing, executing, and perfecting the look of all facial and other makeup used on stage. May have to perform visual transformations of race, age, gender, time period, physical attributes, and more.

Makeup Artist - work under the direction of the Makeup Designer to implement the makeup designs.

Property Master - Responsible for the design and construction of the various decorative and functional props used in a production.

Property Crew - Constructs and acquires all the props used in a production. Responsible for placement, shifting and storage of the props during performances.

Scene Shop Foreman - Under the direction of the TD, this person is responsible for the actual construction, mounting and rigging of the scenery. He/she usually maintains the scene shop equipment and supplies.

Construction Crew - Composed of the people who build the scenery. After the set has been built and painted, they move it from the shop to the stage and assemble it there.

Stage Crew - The stage crew shifts the set during rehearsals and performances. This work is accomplished under the supervision of the stage manager.

Lighting Designer - Responsible for the design, installation and operation of the lighting and special electrical effects used in the production.

Master Electrician - Under the supervision of the lighting designer, the master electrician implements the lighting design. He/she is directly responsible for the acquisition, installation and maintenance of all lighting equipment, and the supervision of the crews who hang, focus and run the lighting equipment.

Costume Designer - Responsible for the appearance of the actors in the show. This area includes the design of the clothes, accessories (shoes, hats, purses, canes, parasols), jewelry, wigs and make-up worn by the actors during a performance. The designer sketches the concept of the clothing often in several views, and consults with the director to determine the look of the costuming.

Costumer - The costume technician who, under the supervision of the costume designer, actually builds or supervises the building of the costumes.

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"Acting is all about honesty... if you can fake that, you've got it down." --Oscar Wilde.
"You must unlearn what you have learned." --Yoda, Jedi Master.
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keltroncybo
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PostSubject: Re: Basic Theater 101   Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:51 pm

Wow QC...are your fingers smoking after all that typing? Thanks for doing this it's such important info and helps people feel more comfortable in a potentially intimidating environment.

:-)

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PostSubject: Stage Direction   Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:00 pm

This is some info that can be tricky for newbies as well.

Stage directions come from the roots of theatre. Back in the olden days :-) the stages were "raked." This means that the "back" of the stage (the end furthest from the audience) was raised slightly higher than the front (the end closest to the audience). This is why we have "UPSTAGE" and "DOWNSTAGE." Another good tip to remember is that the directions are from the actor's perspective...i.e. stage right is the actor's right (assuming he/she is facing DOWNSTAGE) and stage left is the actor's left.

Clear as mud? :-)

These universal directions are nice for a few reasons...first, we all speak the same language, this simplifies the blocking (setting the actors' movement on stage) process. It also allows for simplified written communication of blocking.

For instance, if an actor writes his blocking in his script (always in pencil) and an understudy has to take over, the language should be easy to interpret.

Glossary of Blocking Acronyms:

US : Up Stage
DS: Down Stage
CS: Center Stage
SR: Stage Right
SL: Stage Left
X: Cross

These are the basics...then you can combine to make sense.....sooooo.....

if your director tells you to enter stage left and cross up stage right you would write:

Enter SL X USR

Also clear as mud?

I'm sure most, if not all of you already know this and more but I thought I would get in on the informative posting action.


albino

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PostSubject: Glossary of Theater Terms   Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:39 pm

GLOSSARY OF THEATRE TERMS A-Z


A

Act - A major division of a play. Generally, a play is divided into two or three acts. Acts may be further divided into scenes.

Apron - The area of the stage in front of the curtain line; also called the forestage.

Arc Light - A spotlight that uses an electrical current arcing between two carbon rods; loosely, any extremely bright stage light.

Arena Stage - a stage completely surrounded by the audience.

Auditorium - the seating area from which the audience observes the play.


B

Backdrop - A flat surface the width of the stage, usually made of canvas, hanging from the flies at the rear of the staging area and painted to represent the desired setting. When painted to represent the sky, it's called a sky drop.

Batten - A long pole that is a part of a theatrical fly system; the part that scenery and drops are hung from.

"Break a leg" - A traditional greeting to an actor given just before a performance. Born of the superstition that if one wishes "good luck," the perverse gods will send the opposite, but if one wishes misfortune, the gods will be tricked into sending an actor good luck.

Breakaway - Scenery or props rigged to break on cue. Includes such things as windowpanes made of candy glass, dishes pre-broken and then lightly glued together, and stair railings pre-broken, lightly glued back together, and backed with thin strips of orange crate to provide appropriate sound effects when broken on stage.

Bridle - A set of lines evenly spaced over the length of a batten to support it.

Bump up - To raise quickly the intensity of the stage lighting.

Bullnose - The wood covering at the front of the stage beyond the apron (also Bullnosing). The bullnose at the Palmdale Playhouse is nearly 100 years old.


C

Call Board - A bulletin board backstage upon which schedules, announcements and even reviews are posted for the cast and crew.

Cast - All the actors performing in the given play.

Center Stage - Literally, the space at the very center of the acting area. Also slang for being the focus of attention.

"Chewing the scenery" - overacting, indulging in histrionics, flailing about, gesturing too broadly, or behaving in an emotional manner; all out of proportion to the content of the scene. Also "hamming it up."

Cue - To supply a line so the actor can say his or her own in rehearsal.

Curtain - Literally, the drape in the proscenium arch theatre that closed off the stage from the audience's view. Also called the house curtain. It may be raised and lowered, or opened side-to-side at the end of scenes, acts, or the play itself. In non-proscenium theatres, the blackout of all stage lighting is used in place of the curtain to signal such endings.

Curtain Line - The last line of the last scene; serves as a signal to bring down the curtain.

Curtain Time - The time a performance starts, also called simply "curtain."

Cyclorama, (or Cyc, for short) - A fabric drape hung from a semicircular track on the flies that creates a curved backdrop for performances. The term may also refer to a curved wall at the back of the stage. The eyc at the Palmdale Playhouse is flat, used to catch downward projected light to create a background.


D

Dark House - No performance, or a theatre that is no longer in use.

Dead Hung - describes a unit of scenery or a batten suspended in the flies with no means of raising or lowering it.

Deck - The stage floor.

Dimmer - An electronic device used to lower or raise the intensity of a stage light. The dimmer board (or light board), is a panel of dimmers, each attached to a different piece of lighting equipment. The light board operator can thus control the intensity and distribution of all the stage lighting from one place.


F

Fade - A gradual dimming of the intensity of the stage lighting.

Flat - The basic unit of stage scenery. It usually consists of a wooden frame with canvas or muslin stretched over it, and wooden crosspieces for backing. The standard flat is 4' by 8'. Several flats lashed or cleated together form a set.

Flameproofing - A chemical flame retardant that is sprayed on. Every piece of scenery that sits on a stage must be flameproofed .

Flies (or Flys) - The area above the stage, hidden from the audience by a border or drapery, to which scenery can be lifted clear of the stage (this is called "flying the scenery"). Also called the fly loft or the rigging. The steel framework in the fly loft is also called the grid.

Flood - Term used to describe widespread focus on a spotlight having the effect of flooding the stage with light. Also used as a shortened reference to a Floodlight.

Fly(ing) - As mentioned, to fly scenery is to hoist it to or from the flies. The term may also apply to the flying of an actor on wires across the stage.

Forestage - The space in front of the curtain line, also called the apron.

FOH - Front of House. When uttered by a technician, refers to the electrical batten (or electric) in the house closest to the stage. For those in the Box Office and House Operations, it refers to the area in front of the stage (see House).

Fresnel - (Pronounced "fren-el") A spotlight with a stepped lens of concentric rings. Named for its inventor, a Fresnel casts a pool of light with soft edges that blends with other light.


G

Grip - A member of the stage crew, so called because he or she grips the scenery to move or place it. More commonly used in TV and Film.

Ground Plan - A bird's eye view of the set. Also called the floor plan.


H

Hanging - The process of placing lighting instruments in their specified positions. Also, the process of attaching the scenery to the battens in the fly system.

Ham - An actor who overacts; often with elaborate gestures, exaggerated facial expressions, or vocal excesses inappropriate to the play. An actor who attempts to keep the focus on himself or herself by such devices when it should pass to others.

"Hit your Mark" - A direction for an actor to go to a certain place onstage and deliver a line, make an entrance, or perform some stage business.

House - The seating area of a theatre, but also the audience itself, as in the phrase, "We have a good house tonight."

House Right/Left - Directions viewed from the perspective of the audience, as distinguished from the actors, which would be stage right and left.

House Seats - Seats set aside at each performance to cover any mix-up in tickets for important guests. If not needed, they are released for sale just before curtain time.


L

Legs - Narrow, vertical stage drapes used for masking the wings.

Light plot - A detailed plan by the lighting designer that included a floor plan of the set, a lighting instrument schedule, and a control board cue sheet. Essentially, the plan shows where the lights are to be focused, and when they are to be used during a production.

Load in - When a show's scenery is moved into the theatre and put in place on the stage. This usually includes all props and costumes as well.

Locking Rail - A rail that holds the rope locks for each counterweight set in the fly system. Also called "the Rail."


M

Mark - Literally, the mark on the floor, established during rehearsal, from which actors deliver their lines.

Mask - To block the audience's view; generally, of backstage equipment and space.

Mugging - Using exaggerated facial expressions as directed for comic effect, out of desire to upstage another actor, or because of bad acting technique. See Ham.


P

Proscenium Arch - The picture frame through which an audience watches the play in a proscenium stage theatre.

Proscenium Stage Theatre - A theatre that divides a large room into two distinct spaces: one for the audience, and one for the actors, the line of demarcation between the spaces being the proscenium arch.

Pulling Focus - The act of distracting the audience from what their attention should be focused on.


R

Rigging - The fly system. Also, the process of hanging scenery or lights, the handling of the stage curtain or drops.

Run of the play - The length of time a play is presented in a series of consecutive performances.

Run-through - A rehearsal at which an entire scene, act, or play is done without stopping for changes or corrections.


S

Safety Curtain - A fireproof sheet of heavy fabric that can be lowered in in front of the house curtain in a proscenium theatre in case of fire in the house or on - or backstage. The curtain prevents drafting of flames into either area.

Scene - A division of an act, or of the play itself (some plays are not divided into acts.) The division may be dictated by a change of time or place in a play, and is signaled to the audience by closing the curtain or briefly darkening the stage.

Stage Directions - Notes added to the script of a play, generally in italics or parentheses, that provide line readings, business, blocking or directions for effects. Stage directions for positioning (stage rightlleft, etc.) are always from the point of view of one on the stage, facing the audience.

Stage Manager - The person responsible for overseeing all of the backstage elements of a production.

Strike The Set - To dismantle the sets after the run of a play. Strike always occurs directly after the final performance, and everyone in the company is expected to pitch in. To strike the props, means to remove them from the stage until they are needed again.


T

Techies - An affectionate nickname for technical crewmembers.

Tech Rehearsal- A rehearsal devoted to trying out the technical aspects )f a production - scenery changes, costume changes, lighting, effects, iound cues, and complicated props. The actors run through the play so lat any technical problem can be ironed out.

Thrust Stage - A low platform stage surrounded on three sides by the ,dience.

Tormentor - The vertical drape (or narrow, fabric-covered flat) that masks the wings at each side of the proscenium arch. See Legs


U

Upstage - The area of the stage farthest away from the audience. Also, the term used to describe the act of taking attention away from another actor.

_________________
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~QC
"Acting is all about honesty... if you can fake that, you've got it down." --Oscar Wilde.
"You must unlearn what you have learned." --Yoda, Jedi Master.
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PostSubject: Re: Basic Theater 101   Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:21 am

Those of you who know TV and Film better than I, perhaps a list of terms that are specific to those genres could be posted in the screenacting forum? You can link back to this thread for terms that are common to both.

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"Acting is all about honesty... if you can fake that, you've got it down." --Oscar Wilde.
"You must unlearn what you have learned." --Yoda, Jedi Master.
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